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Boston Symphony OrchestraAndris Nelsons conducts Copland and Grieg featuring pianist Jan Lisiecki

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons conducts Copland and Grieg featuring pianist Jan Lisiecki

Tanglewood

Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA View Map

BSO principal trumpet Thomas Rolfs and English horn player Robert Sheena join Andris Nelsons and the orchestra for the opening work on the July 12 program, Copland’s Quiet City, followed by a performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Jan Lisiecki in his Tanglewood debut and ending with Copland’s Symphony No. 3.

Featured Performers

Andris Nelsons, conductor
Andris Nelsons, conductor View biography in full page >

The 2020-2021 season is Andris Nelsons seventh as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director. In summer 2015, following his first season as music director, his contract with the BSO was extended through the 2021-22 season. In February 2018 Mr. Nelsons was also named Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. On October 5, 2020, the BSO and GHO jointly announced extensions to Mr. Nelsons current contracts. His contract with the BSO was extended until 2025, and his GHO contract until 2027. An evergreen clause in his BSO contract reflects a mutual intention for a long-term commitment between the BSO and Mr. Nelsons beyond the years of the agreement.

Mr. Nelsons’ two positions, in addition to his leadership of a pioneering alliance between the institutions, have firmly established the Grammy Award-winning conductor as one of the most renowned and innovative artists on the international scene today. In fall 2019 Mr. Nelsons and the BSO hosted the Gewandhausorchester in historic concerts at Symphony Hall that included two performances by the GHO as well as concerts featuring the players of both orchestras together.

In the 2019-20 season, Andris Nelsons led the BSO in repertoire ranging from favorites by Beethoven, Dvořák, Grieg, Mozart, Mahler, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky to world and American premieres of BSO-commissioned works from Eric Nathan, Betsy Jolas, and the Latvian composer Arturs Maskats. The season also brought the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra and collaborations with an impressive array of guest artists. Mr. Nelsons’ work with the BSO resumes with his return to Boston at the start of 2021.

Andris Nelsons’ and the BSO’s ongoing series of recordings of the complete Shostakovich symphonies for Deutsche Grammophon has included the composer’s symphonies 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11 (The Year 1905), and most recently a two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies 6 and 7 (Leningrad). The cycle has earned three Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Performance and one for Best Engineered Album. The next installment, featuring symphonies nos. 1, 14, and 15 and the Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a (arr. Rudolf Barshai), is scheduled for release in summer 2021. Future releases will go beyond the symphonies to encompass the composer’s concertos for piano, violin, and cello, and his monumental opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Mr. Nelsons’ other recordings with the orchestra include the complete Brahms symphonies for the BSO Classics label and a Naxos release of BSO-commissioned world premiere works by four American composers: Timo Andres, Eric Nathan, Sean Shepherd, and George Tsontakis.

The fifteenth music director in the history of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons made his BSO debut at Carnegie Hall in March 2011, his Tanglewood debut in July 2012, and his BSO subscription series debut in January 2013. In November 2017, Mr. Nelsons and the BSO toured Japan together for the first time. They have so far made three European tours together: immediately following the 2018 Tanglewood season, when they played concerts in London, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Lucerne, Paris, and Amsterdam; in May 2016, a tour that took them to eight cities in Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg; and, after the 2015 Tanglewood season, a tour that took them to major European capitals and the Lucerne, Salzburg, and Grafenegg festivals. A scheduled February 2020 tour to East Asia was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

In his capacity as BSO Music Director and Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Mr. Nelsons brings the BSO and GHO together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance including a BSO/GHO Musician Exchange program and an exchange component within each orchestra’s acclaimed academy for advanced music studies. A major aspect of the alliance is a focus on complementary programming, through which the BSO celebrates “Leipzig Week in Boston” and the GHO celebrates “Boston Week in Leipzig,” highlighting each other’s musical traditions through uniquely programmed concerts, chamber music performances, archival exhibits, and lecture series. The two orchestras have jointly commissioned and premiered works from Latvian, American, and German and Austrian composers.

In addition to his Shostakovich recordings with the BSO, Mr. Nelsons’ exclusive partnership with Deutsche Grammophon includes two other major projects. With the Gewandhausorchester he continues his critically acclaimed Bruckner symphonic cycle under the Yellow Label, of which four volumes have been released to date. His recordings of Beethoven’s complete symphonies with the Wiener Philharmoniker were released by Deutsche Grammophon in October 2019.

Mr. Nelsons frequently leads such orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. As an opera conductor, he has made regular guest appearances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Bayreuth Festival. Born in Riga in 1978 into a family of musicians, Andris Nelsons began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying conducting. He was Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (2008-2015), Principal Conductor of Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany (2006-09), and Music Director of the Latvian National Opera (2003-07).

 

Andris Nelsons, conductor Jan Lisiecki, piano
Jan Lisiecki, piano View biography in full page >

Just 23, Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki has won acclaim for his extraordinary interpretive maturity, distinctive sound, and poetic sensibility. The New York Times has called him "a pianist who makes every note count". Lisiecki's insightful interpretations, refined technique, and natural affinity for art give him a musical voice that belies his age.

Jan Lisiecki was born to Polish parents in Canada in 1995. He began piano lessons at the age of five and made his concerto debut four years later, while always rebuffing the label of "child prodigy". His approach to music is a refreshing combination of dedication, skill, enthusiasm and a realistic perspective on the career of a musician.

Lisiecki was brought to international attention in 2010, after the Fryderyk Chopin Institute issued a recording of Chopin's piano concertos, performed live by Jan at age 13 and 14. BBC Music Magazine wrote of the "mature musicality" of his playing and commended the "sensitively distilled" insights of his Chopin interpretations; the release was awarded the Diapason Découverte. Confirming his status among the most imaginative and poetic pianists of his generation, Deutsche Grammophon signed an exclusive contract with Jan in 2011, when he was just 15 years old.

Lisiecki's first recording for DG, released in 2012, features Mozart's Piano Concertos K. 466 and 467. It was followed in 2013 by Chopin's Etudes Op. 10 and 25, praised by Gramophone magazine for being "played as pure music, given as naturally as breathing". Jan's recording of Schumann's works for piano and orchestra was released in January 2016 and as ClassicFM wrote, "he may be young but Jan Lisiecki plays Schumann like a legend". His latest album, featuring Chopin's rarely-performed works for piano and orchestra, was released in March 2017, and has been awarded the prestigious ECHO Klassik.

Jan says his aim is to always perform in a way that carries forward the beauty and brilliance of the original work. He has demonstrated that he is capable of rendering compositions remarkably close to the way they were intended. "Going into a concert hall should be like going into a sanctuary. You're there to have a moment of reflection, hopefully leaving feeling different, refreshed and inspired."

In March 2013, Lisiecki substituted at short notice for Martha Argerich, performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in Bologna with the Orchestra Mozart under Claudio Abbado. He crowned that season with a sensational account of Schumann's Piano Concerto at the BBC Proms. The following year he performed three Mozart concertos in one week with the Philadelphia Orchestra, making his debuts as concerto soloist with the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala in Milan, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, and with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. The same season, Jan gave debut recitals at Wigmore Hall, Rome's Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and in San Francisco. The pianist's development has taken place in company with many of the world's leading orchestras, including the Orchestre de Paris, New York Philharmonic, and BBC Symphony, at venues such as Suntory Hall, the Kennedy, Lincoln, and Barbican Centres, and Royal Albert Hall. Jan has cultivated relationships with prominent conductors including Sir Antonio Pappano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Daniel Harding.

The remarkable 22-year-old musician made his debut in the main auditorium at New York's Carnegie Hall in January 2016. In its rave review, the New York Times noted that it was an "uncommonly sensitive performance". Other significant performances included subscription series debuts with the Cleveland Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and multiple tours, including with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Jan also performs concertos leading from the piano, with ensembles such as the Zürich Chamber Orchestra and Camerata Salzburg.

In the 2017/18 season, Jan will perform extensively across the world, including recital tours of Europe and Asia, and subscription debuts with the Boston Symphony, Wiener Symphoniker, and Staatskapelle Dresden, among others. Foremost radio and television networks in Europe and North America have extensively broadcast Lisiecki's performances, he was also the subject of the CBC National News documentary The Reluctant Prodigy. In 2013 he received the Leonard Bernstein Award at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and was also named as Gramophone magazine's Young Artist of the Year. Jan is involved in charity work, donating time and performances to such organizations as the David Foster Foundation, the Polish Humanitarian Organization and the Wish Upon a Star Foundation. In 2012 he was named UNICEF Ambassador to Canada having been a National Youth Representative since 2008.

Jan Lisiecki, piano
Thomas Rolfs, trumpet
Thomas Rolfs, trumpet View biography in full page >

Thomas Rolfs is principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, occupying the Roger Louis Voisin Chair; he is also principal trumpet of the Boston Pops Orchestra, occupying the Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Chair. Mr. Rolfs began his career with the BSO in 1991, serving first as fourth trumpet and later as associate principal trumpet. Initially hired by Seiji Ozawa, he was promoted to associate principal trumpet by Ozawa and to principal trumpet by James Levine. Mr. Rolfs’ primary teachers were David Baldwin, Vincent Cichowicz, Arnold Jacobs, Manny Laureano, and Charles Schlueter. As a student, he was a Tanglewood Music Center Fellow in 1978, earned his bachelor of music degree from the University of Minnesota, and received his master of music degree from Northwestern University. He then returned to Minnesota for a five-year tenure with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. As a soloist, Thomas Rolfs has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra, and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. At the request of John Williams, he was a featured soloist on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack of the Academy Award-winning film Saving Private Ryan. He was also soloist in Williams’s Summon the Heroes for the nationally televised Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade on July 4, 2001, under Keith Lockhart’s direction. At the invitation of conductor Jaap van Zweden, he was posthorn soloist in performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Dallas Symphony Orchestra, also recording that work with the Dallas Symphony. Mr. Rolfs’ varied performance background also includes appearances with the National Brass Ensemble, Minnesota Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Empire Brass, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and American Ballet Orchestra. Mr. Rolfs is a founding member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet. As an educator, he has presented master classes throughout the world, including North America, South America, Asia, and Europe. A Yamaha Performing Artist, he collaborated on the development of the second and third generations of Yamaha’s New York C trumpet. A Tanglewood Music Center faculty member since 1998, he also teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music and Northwestern University. Mr. Rolfs has been soloist with the BSO in Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds, Timpani, Percussion, and String Orchestra, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, Jolivet’s Concertino for trumpet, string orchestra, and piano, and Copland’s Quiet City. In July 2019, with Andris Nelsons conducting the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (TMCO), he gave the world premiere of Detlev Glanert’s BSO-commissioned Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra. In July 2017, with Andris Nelsons, the TMCO, and Håkan Hardenberger, he performed Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Dispelling the Fears for two trumpets and orchestra.

Thomas Rolfs, trumpet Robert Sheena, oboe / English horn
Robert Sheena, oboe / English horn View biography in full page >

Robert Sheena has been the English horn player of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra since 1994, during which time his uniquely vocal style of playing has garnered accolades from audience members and the media alike. In his more than twenty years as a member of the BSO, Mr. Sheena has performed as soloist with the orchestra on several occasions, most notably in the world premiere performances of George Tsontakis's Sonnets-a BSO commission composed specifically for him-at Symphony Hall in February 2016 with Andris Nelsons conducting, followed by a Tanglewood performance that August. He has also been featured in BSO performances at Tanglewood of André Previn's Reflections and Aaron Copland's Quiet City. With the Boston Pops Orchestra he has been featured at Symphony Hall in Quiet City and Michael Daugherty's Spaghetti Western.From 1987 to 1991 Mr. Sheena was the assistant principal oboe and English horn of the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Since then he has made numerous trips to perform in Asia, not only with the BSO, but also to perform in Japan as a guest English hornist with the Super World Orchestra (2001), Affinis Music Festival (2009), and Seiji Ozawa's Saito Kinen Orchestra (2014). From 1991 until joining the BSO he was assistant principal oboe and English horn with the San Antonio Symphony. From 1984 to 1987 he was a freelance oboist in the Chicago area, playing in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and frequently as a substitute oboist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Sheena is an instructor of both the oboe and the English horn at Boston University's School of Music and Tanglewood Institute, at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and at the Longy School of Music of Bard College. An alumnus of the Tanglewood Music Center, he works with the fellowship oboists there every summer as a TMC faculty member, coaching them in chamber music and giving English horn master classes. Mr. Sheena occupies the Beranek Chair in the woodwind section of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Robert Sheena, oboe / English horn
Program Notes Audio
COPLAND - Quiet City
GRIEG - Piano Concerto
COPLAND - Symphony No. 3 (42 min)
Full Program Notes - PDF
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