A palpable sense of anticipation hung in the air Wednesday evening at the Gaillard, as the fair-sized audience settled into their seats for this year’s single festival orchestral concert. Word had gotten around that emerging American conductor James Gaffigan is a force to be reckoned with and that rehearsals had gone brilliantly.

But let’s get one thing straight, Gaffigan is not here to replace Emmanuel Villaume as the festival’s director for opera and orchestra. The selection process for the festival’s future director is far from complete, as I explained in detail in my event preview. But don’t think that means we shouldn’t be overjoyed to have snagged Gaffigan from his busy schedule for even a single concert — especially after what a happy and wonder-struck crowd just experienced at the Gaillard.