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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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THE TRAINING GROUNDS FOR THE MUSICIANS OF
The Tanglewood Music Center Fellowship Program is the Boston
Symphony Orchestra's summer academy for advanced musical study. The
TMC offers an intensive schedule of study and performance for
emerging professional instrumentalists, singers, conductors, and
composers who have completed most of their formal training in
Serge Koussevitzky, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's music
director from 1924 to 1949, founded the school with the intention
of creating a premier music academy where, with the resources of a
great symphony orchestra at their disposal, young musicians would
sharpen their skills under the tutelage of Boston Symphony
Orchestra musicians and other specially invited artists.
The Berkshire Music Center opened formally on July 8, 1940, with
both speeches (Koussevitzky, alluding to the war then raging in
Europe, said, "If ever there was a time to speak of music, it is
now in the New World") and music, including the first performance
of Randall Thompson's Alleluia for unaccompanied chorus, which was
written for the ceremony and arrived less than an hour before the
event was to begin, but which made such an impression that it is
sung every summer at the TMC's Opening Exercises. The TMC became
Koussevitzky's pride and joy for the rest of his life. He assembled
an extraordinary faculty in composition, operatic and choral
activities, and instrumental performance; he himself taught the
most gifted conductors.
Koussevitzky continued to develop the Tanglewood Music Center
until 1950, a year after his retirement as the BSO's music
director. Charles Munch, his successor in that position, ran the
TMC from 1951 through 1962, working with Leonard Bernstein and
Aaron Copland to shape the school's programs. In 1963, new BSO
Music Director Erich Leinsdorf took over the school's reins,
returning to Koussevitzky's hands-on leadership approach while
restoring a renewed emphasis on contemporary music. The TMC's
annual Festival of Contemporary Music, produced in association with
the Fromm Music Foundation, was begun in 1963.
In 1970, three years before his appointment as BSO music
director, Seiji Ozawa became head of the BSO's programs at
Tanglewood, with Gunther Schuller leading the TMC and Leonard
Bernstein as general advisor. Leon Fleisher served as the TMC's
Artistic Director from 1985 to 1997. In 1994, with the opening of
Seiji Ozawa Hall, the TMC centralized its activities on the Leonard
Bernstein Campus, which also includes the Aaron Copland Library,
chamber music studios, administrative offices, and the Leonard
Bernstein Performers Pavilion adjacent to Ozawa Hall. In 1998,
Ellen Highstein was appointed to the new position of Director of
the Tanglewood Music Center, operating under the artistic
supervision of Seiji Ozawa. Maestro James Levine took over as Music
Director of the BSO in 2005 and has continued the tradition of
hands-on involvement with the TMC, conducting both orchestral
concerts and staged operas, as well as participating in
masterclasses for singers, conductors, and composers.
It would be impossible to list all the distinguished musicians
who have studied at the Tanglewood Music Center. According to
recent estimates, 20 percent of the members of American symphony
orchestras, and 30 percent of all first-chair players, studied at
Today, alumni of the Tanglewood Music Center play a vital role
in the musical life of the nation. Tanglewood and the Tanglewood
Music Center, have become a fitting shrine to the memory of Serge
Koussevitzky, a living embodiment of the vital, humanistic
tradition that was his legacy. At the same time, the Tanglewood
Music Center maintains its commitment to the future as one of the
world's most important training grounds for the composers,
conductors, instrumentalists, and vocalists of tomorrow.
Tanglewood Music Center Conducting Fellows