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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 New York Times calls Leif Ove Andsnes “a pianist of magisterial elegance, power, and insight,” and the Wall Street Journal names him “one of the most gifted musicians of his generation.” With his commanding technique and searching interpretations, the celebrated Norwegian pianist has won international acclaim, playing concertos and recitals in the world’s leading concert halls and with its foremost orchestras, while building an esteemed and extensive discography. He is the founding director of the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, was co-artistic director of the Risør Festival of Chamber Music, and has served as music director of California’s Ojai Music Festival. A Gramophone Hall of Fame inductee, he received honorary doctorates from Norway’s University of Bergen and New York’s Juilliard School.
Andsnes launched the season with the release on Sony Classical of Chopin: Ballades & Nocturnes, his first recording of the composer’s music in more than a decade. In concert, he played Brahms’s First Piano Concerto with London’s Philharmonia and the Staatskapelle Dresden, and looks forward to reprising it with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony in Italy and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSB) in Asia. He rejoins the RSB for Mozart, whose concertos also take him to the Munich Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, and Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with which he tours Germany, France, and Portugal. The tour marks the launch of “Mozart Momentum 1785/86,” a major new multi-season project that sees him and the orchestra explore one of the most creative and seminal periods of the composer’s career.
In recital this season, Andsnes debuted a colorful solo program of Schumann, Bartók and Janáček with dates in Paris, Frankfurt, and Florence He also joins baritone Matthias Goerne for Schubert lieder in Paris, Essen, and Barcelona, and returns to Norway for his fourth summer at the helm of the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival.
Perhaps Andsnes’s most ambitious achievement to date is “The Beethoven Journey,” his epic four-season focus on the composer’s music for piano and orchestra, with more than 230 live performances in 108 cities across 27 countries. The project was chronicled in the documentary Concerto – A Beethoven Journey and captured on the Sony Classical series The Beethoven Journey. The first volume was named iTunes’ Best Instrumental Album of 2012 and awarded Belgium’s Prix Caecilia, the second recognized with BBC Music’s coveted “2015 Recording of the Year Award,” and the complete series chosen as one of the “Best of 2014” by the New York Times.
Andsnes now records exclusively for Sony Classical, having previously recorded more than 30 titles, many of them bestsellers, for EMI Classics. He recently received his ninth Grammy nomination, for Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring & other works for two pianos four hands, recorded with Marc-André Hamelin for Hyperion. His many other international prizes include six Gramophone Awards, and two of his albums were named “Best CD of the Year” by the New York Times and awarded coveted Penguin Guide “Rosettes.”
Andsnes has received two of Norway’s top tributes: Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav and the Peer Gynt Prize. He has been honored as a New York Philharmonic’ Artist-in-Residence, as the first Scandinavian to curate Carnegie Hall’s “Perspectives” series, and as been the subject of a London Symphony Orchestra Artist Portrait Series. The recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist Award and the Gilmore Artist Award, he was named one of Vanity Fair’s “Best of the Best” in 2005.
Leif Ove Andsnes was born in Karmøy, Norway in 1970, and studied at the Bergen Music Conservatory. He is currently an Artistic Adviser for the Prof. Jirí Hlinka Piano Academy in Bergen, where he lives with his partner and their three children.
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano