Alan Pierson

Artistic Director, Conductor, Keyboards (he/him)

It’s fun to pick out early evidence that I was destined for a conducting career. There’s a picture of me age six waving Sir George Solti’s baton. And two years later, I led the first all pre-teen production of The Amazing Snowman: The Musical. But the photo was a fluke—someone thought I looked cute with the baton and asked me to model it for an auction catalogue—and my Amazing Snowman performance ended tragically when the title actor, supposedly having melted, emerged from the teacher’s office in her kimono shouting “I’m the Chinese snowman.” Music was actually just one among many childhood interests: I directed the fifth grade’s only weekly comedy news show, and spent most of high school writing science fiction novels and scripts which got rejected by Star Trek. Then, as an undergraduate at MIT, I majored in physics and developed a new algorithm for modeling planetary system dynamics that I can no longer explain to anyone.

But whatever I’ve been interested in, I’ve always been an organizer, dreaming up big projects and bringing together people with diverse talents and their own big ideas to make things happen. And when I eventually decided to focus on music—initially as a composer rather than a conductor—I started doing the same. I helped to found Ossia, the Eastman group which launched Alarm Will Sound, and was soon spending most of my time producing concerts, playing chamber music, and leading ensembles. Without these Eastman School experiencees with the musicians who would eventually found Alarm Will Sound with me, I don’t think I’d be conducting today.

In more recent years, I’ve conducted many other ensembles, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, L.A. Opera, Nationaltheater Mannheim. I’ve been Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Principal Conductor of the Crash Ensemble. And I’m on faculty at Northwestern University, co-directing the Bienen School of Music’s Contemporary Music Ensemble. But coming back to work with Alarm Will Sound is always like coming home, and I can’t imagine my life without these people.