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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
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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
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
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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
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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
Robert Sheena, oboe / English horn