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The 2019-20 season, Andris Nelsons’ sixth as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director, marks his fifth anniversary in that position. Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year, Mr. Nelsons leads fifteen of the BSO’s twenty-six weeks of concerts this season, ranging from repertoire favorites by Beethoven, Dvořák, Gershwin, Grieg, Mozart, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky to world and American premieres of BSO-commissioned works from Eric Nathan, Betsy Jolas, Arturs Maskats, and HK Gruber. The season also brings the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra, and collaborations with an impressive array of guest artists, including a concert performance of Tristan und Isolde, Act III—one of three BSO programs he will also conduct at Carnegie Hall—with Jonas Kaufmann and Emily Magee in the title roles. In addition, February 2020 brings a major tour to Asia in which Maestro Nelsons and the BSO give their first concerts together in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
In February 2018, Andris Nelsons became Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester (GHO) Leipzig, in which capacity he also 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 highlight of the BSO/GHO Alliance is a focus on complementary programming, through which the BSO celebrates “Leipzig Week in Boston” and the GHO celebrates “Boston Week in Leipzig,” thereby highlighting each other’s musical traditions through uniquely programmed concerts, chamber music performances, archival exhibits, and lecture series. For this season’s “Leipzig Week in Boston,” under Maestro Nelsons’ leadership in November, the entire Gewandhausorchester Leipzig comes to Symphony Hall for joint concerts with the BSO as well as two concerts of its own.
In summer 2015, following his first season as music director, Andris Nelsons’ contract with the BSO was extended through the 2021-22 season. In November 2017, he and the orchestra 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.
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. His recordings with the BSO, all made live in concert at Symphony Hall, include the complete Brahms symphonies on BSO Classics; Grammy-winning recordings on Deutsche Grammophon of Shostakovich’s symphonies 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11 (The Year 1905) as part of a complete Shostakovich symphony cycle for that label; and a recent two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies 6 and 7 (Leningrad). This November, a new release on Naxos features Andris Nelsons and the orchestra in the world premieres of BSO-commissioned works by Timo Andres, Eric Nathan, Sean Shepherd, and George Tsontakis. Under an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, Andris Nelsons is also recording the complete Bruckner symphonies with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the complete Beethoven symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic.
During the 2019-20 season, Andris Nelsons continues his ongoing collaborations with the Vienna Philharmonic. Throughout his career, he has also established regular collaborations with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, and has been a regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
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 to 2015, principal conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany, from 2006 to 2009, and music director of Latvian National Opera from 2003 to 2007.
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