Tickets & Events

Ken-David Masur

Music in Changing Times: American Promise
Dvořák, Ives and Florence Price

Boston Symphony Orchestra


Watch the video here

Available November 19 - December 19

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 2020-2021 season, “Music in Changing Times,” reflects on both the challenges and the hope that define this era of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. This concert, introduced by former BSO Associate Conductor Ken-David Masur, offers two wellsprings of American music—though one is by a Czech composer. Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony was the fruit of the composer’s stay in the United States in the early 1890s, and benefitted from his exposure to African American and Native American music. His example, in turn, provided a strong example for generations of African American composers in particular to use the raw materials of slave songs and spirituals in creating works for the concert hall. The celebrated Arkansas-born musician Florence Price was one composer who took up this challenge; her warm, folk-inflected String Quartet in G is a fine example of her music. Opening these programs is a piece evoking humanity’s enduring transcendental quest for meaning: Charles Ives’s The Unanswered Question. Now more than 110 years old, this innovative, exploratory work anticipated, both musically and philosophically, many of the most pressing inquiries of modern art and culture.

Two brief video features within the presentation, touching on the BSO’s history and hopes and the life of Florence Price, respectively, add further context to the program.

Featured Performers

Ken-David Masur, conductor
Ken-David Masur, conductor View biography in full page >

Boston Symphony Orchestra Associate Conductor Ken-David Masur makes his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia in summer 2018, leading two all-Tchaikovsky programs, then returns to Tanglewood to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra in music of Glinka, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Kirill Gerstein, and Stravinsky's Firebird. He travels to Tokyo at summer's end to conduct workshops and a concert celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Mendelssohn Foundation in Japan. In October 2018 he leads a subscription week with the BSO. Guest engagements in the coming season include those with the Louisville Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, and Chicago Civic Orchestra, plus concerts abroad with the National Philharmonic of Russia, Collegium Musicum Basel, Stavanger Symphony, and Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra in France. Recent performance highlights include weeks with the Milwaukee, Colorado, and Portland (ME) symphonies and returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, Chicago Civic Orchestra, Munich Symphony, where he is Principal Guest Conductor, and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Japan. He led l' Orchestre National de France in Paris in a program with Anne-Sophie Mutter, and regularly conducts in Germany, Korea, and Moscow. As a sought-after leader and educator of younger players, Mr. Masur frequently conducts the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Boston University Tanglewood Institute orchestra, and the New England Conservatory, and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestras.

Ken-David Masur and his wife, pianist Melinda Lee Masur, are founders and Artistic Directors of the Chelsea Music Festival, an annual two-week multimedia production of music, art, and cuisine, which in June 2018 presented its 9th season, "Bach 333," in New York City. Its productions are varied and internationally themed, always including premieres of new works by young and established composers. The New York Times frequently features the festival amongst its Best Classical picks of the season.

In 2011 Ken-David Masur was the recipient of the Seiji Ozawa Conducting Fellowship at Tanglewood, where he was invited to return as a Fellow in 2012. He made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut at Tanglewood in July 2012, sharing a program with his father, conductor Kurt Masur. He became a BSO assistant conductor in fall 2014. Previous appointments include associate conductor of the San Diego Symphony, assistant conductor of the Orchestre National de France, and resident conductor of the San Antonio Symphony. He has had guest engagements with the Dresden, Israel, and Japan Philharmonics; with the Orchestre National de Toulouse, and the Hiroshima, Omaha, and Memphis symphonies. Ken-David Masur has recently made recordings with the English Chamber Orchestra and violinist Fanny Clamagirand, as well as with the Stavanger Symphony. As founding music director of the Bach Society Orchestra and Chorus at Columbia University, he toured Germany and released a critically acclaimed album of symphonies and cantatas by W.F. Bach, C.P.E. Bach and J.S. Bach. Masur received a Grammy nomination from the Latin Recording Academy in the category Best Classical Album of the Year for his work as a producer of the album "Salon Buenos Aires."

Ken-David Masur, conductor
Program Notes Audio
IVES - The Unanswered Question (6 min)
DVOŘÁK - Symphony No. 9, From the New World (40 min)
PRICE - String Quartet in G
Full Program Notes - Available Here