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Andris Nelsons conducts Lee, Shostakovich, and Smetana featuring pianist Yuja Wang and BSO principal trumpet Thomas Rolfs

Andris Nelsons conducts Lee, Shostakovich, and Smetana featuring pianist Yuja Wang and BSO principal trumpet Thomas Rolfs

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Firebrand Chinese pianist Yuja Wang returns to Symphony Hall to perform Shostakovich’s brightly powerful Piano Concerto No. 1, which includes virtuosic exchanges between the pianist and a solo trumpet, here the BSO’s principal trumpet, Thomas Rolfs. Opening the program is American composer James Lee III’s celebratory, at times mysterious Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula, a ten-minute work referring to the autumnal Feast of the Tabernacles. (Lee was a 2002 Fellow of the BSO’s Tanglewood Music Center.) Closing the program is music from Bedřich Smetana’s patriotic orchestral cycle Má Vlast (“My Country”), colorful and widely varying musical pictures evoking the composer’s Czech homeland.

Featured Performers

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

Andris Nelsons is Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. These two positions, in addition to his leadership of a pioneering alliance between both institutions, have firmly established Grammy Award-winning Nelsons as one of the most renowned and innovative conductors on the international scene today. Andris Nelsons is Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. These two positions, in addition to his leadership of a pioneering alliance between both institutions, have firmly established Grammy Award-winning Nelsons as one of the most renowned and innovative conductors on the international scene today.

Nelsons began his tenure as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the 2014/15 season. This season, the BSO and Nelsons embark on a major tour throughout Asia, giving their first concerts together in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The orchestra also continues its appearances at Carnegie Hall as part of the Great American Orchestras series, with a special concert performance Tristan und Isolde featuring Jonas Kaufmann. Since his appointment as Gewandhauskapellmeister in Leipzig in February 2018, Nelsons and the Gewandhausorchester have completed a number of successful tours, including their first Asia tour together in May/June 2019, performing in Japan and China. This season, the orchestra looks forward to two European tours, which will include performances at the BBC Proms, the festivals in Salzburg and Lucerne, special highlight for Nelsons, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Gewandhausorchester: three joint performances in Boston will be given as part of the alliance between the two orchestras, and the Gewandhausorchester will perform additional concerts

During the 2019/20 season, Nelsons continues his regular collaborations with the Wiener Philharmoniker, with whom he conducts Furthermore, th anniversary, the Wiener Philharmoniker and Nelsons present a cycle of Beethoven's symphonies at the Musikverein and on tour at the Philharmonie de Paris, Philharmonie am Gasteig in Munich, and collaborations with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and has been a regular guest at the Bayreuther Festspiele and at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

Andris Nelsons has an exclusive recording relationship with Deutsche Grammophon, which has paved the way for three landmark projects. Nelsons and the BSO partner on recording the complete Shostakovich symphonies and the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District. The fourth and most recent instalment was released in February 2019. Each of the first three releases of the cycle have received Grammy Awards for Best Orchestral Performance, the third additionally winning in the Best Engineered Album, Classical category. Nelsons and the yellow label also have embarked upon a critically acclaimed project with the Gewandhausorchester that sheds new light on the symphonies of Bruckner, and pairs these distinctive symphonic pieces with works by Wagner. The most recent instalment was released in May 2019. Finally, Philharmoniker will be released in October 2019.

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 from 2008-2015, Principal Conductor of Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany 2006-2009 and Music Director of the Latvian National Opera 2003-2007.

 

Andris Nelsons, conductor Yuja Wang, piano
Yuja Wang, piano View biography in full page >

Her singular blend of technical prowess, keen musical insight, and emotional depth have established Yuja Wang as one of the world's finest performers.

The power of her interpretations emerges from a distinct combination of her exceptional presence on stage and a natural affinity and inquisitive approach to the repertoire, which ranges from Mozart to Gershwin and beyond. 'Charismatic', 'breathtaking', 'flawless' and 'heartfelt' are just a selection of the superlatives used frequently by critics worldwide.

Yuja's 2017-18 season features recitals, concert series, and extensive tours with some of the world's most venerated ensembles and conductors. She begins the summer of 2017 on tour with the London Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas and a programme featuring Brahms' Piano Concerto No.2, followed by a performance of the first concerto at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Lionel Bringuier. Later engagements include concerts with the Munich Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev, a series of performances at the Verbier Festival, and a three-city German tour with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic.

She also embarks on play-conduct tours with two of the best chamber orchestras in the world, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe, as well as joining the inaugural tour of Jaap van Zweden with the New York Philharmonic and the final tour of Yannick Nézet-Séguin's directorship with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Other notable appearances include concerts in Hong Kong, Miami, Washington D.C., Prague, Tel Aviv, and Berlin.

Winter of 2017 sees Yuja reunite with violinist and frequent collaborator Leonidas Kavakos for a European chamber tour, whilst in the spring of 2018, Ms. Wang will embark on a vast-reaching recital tour at premiere venues in the US and Europe; New York City, San Francisco, Rome, Vienna, Berlin, Paris, and beyond.

As part of its commitment to the arts, Rolex selected Yuja Wang as one of its cultural ambassadors in 2009, a distinction she holds to this day. She has been described by the New York Times as "one of the best young pianists around" and hailed by the Sydney Morning Herald for her "blistering technique." In July 2015 the Los Angeles Times declared: "Hers is a nonchalant, brilliant keyboard virtuosity that would have made both Prokofiev (who was a great pianist) and even the fabled Horowitz jealous." This combination of critical acclaim, audience ovations, return engagements at leading international venues, and an exclusive recording relationship with Deutsche Grammophon confirm Yuja Wang's status as one of this century's most compelling and engaging artists.

Yuja's way of making music connects with a strikingly broad demographic. It appeals to everyone, from classical music newcomers to devoted pianophiles, and has attracted an exceptionally youthful following. Her love for fashion, recognized by her induction into Giorgio Armani's Sì Women's Circle, has also contributed to the popular appeal of an artist who is armed with the ability to challenge the status quo and to welcome fresh converts to the concert hall.

Yuja Wang was born in Beijing and encouraged to make music at a young age by her dancer mother and percussionist father, which served as the catalyst for the never-ending thirst for knowledge that has sustained her continued musical development.

She began piano lessons at the age of six, and her progress was accelerated by studies at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. In 1999 she moved to Canada to participate in the Morningside Music summer programme at Calgary's Mount Royal College, and thereafter enrolled as the youngest ever student at Mount Royal Conservatory. Wang's exceptional gifts were widely recognised in 2001 with her appointment as a Steinway Artist, and again the following year when she was offered a place at Philadelphia's prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Gary Graffman.

By the time Yuja graduated from Curtis in 2008, she had already gained momentum following the spectacular success of her debut three years earlier with the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa. Wang attracted widespread international attention in March 2007 when she replaced Martha Argerich on short notice in performances of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and within the span of just a few seasons she was working with conductors of the highest calibre. Over the past decade of her career, she has worked with such pre-eminent Maestros as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel, Valery Gergiev, Michael Tilson Thomas, Antonio Pappano, Charles Dutoit, and Zubin Mehta.

In January 2009, Yuja Wang became an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist. Her debut album, Sonatas & Etudes, prompted Gramophone to name her as its 2009 Young Artist of the Year. Her 2011 release of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto and Paganini's Rhapsody with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Claudio Abbado was nominated for a Grammy® Award in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category. Subsequent releases for the label include Fantasia, an album of encore pieces by Albéniz, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, Scriabin, and others; a live recording of Prokofiev's Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and an acclaimed coupling of Ravel's two piano concerti with Fauré's Ballade, recorded with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and Lionel Bringuier.

Reviewers around the world have documented the full range of Wang's work, capturing the essence of her musicianship and observing the development of an artist blessed with consummate technical abilities, an inexhaustible creative imagination, and an unmatched artistry.

Yuja Wang, piano
Thomas Rolfs, trumpet
Thomas Rolfs, trumpet View biography in full page >

Thomas Rolfs, Principal Trumpet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops, began his career with the BSO in 1991 under Seiji Ozawa. He served first as 4th trumpet, and was later promoted by Ozawa to Associate Principal Trumpet. He was promoted to Principal Trumpet by James Levine. As a student, Mr. Rolfs 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 returned to Minnesota for a five-year tenure with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. As a soloist, Rolfs has performed with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops orchestras and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as performing the posthorn solo in Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with the Dallas Symphony. At the request of John Williams, he was a featured soloist on the composer's Grammy-nominated soundtrack for 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. His varied performance background also includes appearances withthe National Brass Ensemble, Minnesota Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Empire Brass, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the American Ballet Orchestra. Rolfs is a founding member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet, which is in residence at Boston University. As an educator, Rolfs has presented masterclasses throughout the world, including North America, South America, Asia, and Europe. He has served on the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center since 1998, regularly coaches the New World Symphony, and teaches at both the New England Conservatory and Boston University.

Thomas Rolfs, trumpet
Program Notes Audio
James LEE III - Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula
SHOSTAKOVICH - Piano Concerto No. 1
SMETANA - Selection from Má Vlast
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