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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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Three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn is renowned for her clear and brilliant musicality, expansive interpretations of an incredibly varied repertoire, and organic connections with her audience. Her creative approach to music-making and her commitment to sharing her experiences with a global community have made her a fan favorite. She recently created the Instagram project #100DaysOfPractice for which she posted videos of herself practicing for a hundred days straight, openly sharing her behind-the-scenes work with her fans to break down perceived barriers around the creative process.
Hahn devotes much of the 2018-19 season to a thread that has bound her entire musical career together. In October she released Bach's Partita No. 1 and Sonatas 1 and 2, after the two decades of anticipation from fans and critics alike that followed her first album, Hilary Hahn plays Bach, released when she was only 17. Throughout the fall and spring, she performs solo Bach recitals in Vienna, Paris, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Toronto, Tokyo, Seoul, Berlin, London, and Munich. Also in 2018-19, she is Artist-in-Residence at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, with whom she will perform Sibelius in Austria, Germany, France, and Spain and premiere the final violin concerto of Einojuhani Rautavaara, written for Hahn and completed posthumously by Kalevi Aho. She takes Mozart's fifth concerto to Japan and Korea with Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, performs Prokofiev's first concerto with Järvi and the Philharmonia Orchestra in Germany, and returns to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Sibelius.
Bach has been a part of Hahn's life from the beginning of her musical studies, including with her first teacher, Klara Berkovich. At ten she was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to study with Jascha Brodsky, a former pupil of Eugène Ysaÿe and Efrem Zimbalist, who dedicated part of nearly every lesson to solo Bach. She often incorporates movements of the partitas and sonatas into her free – and sometimes surprise – concerts for knitting circles, community dance workshops, yoga groups, art students, and parents with their babies. She developed these mini concerts as part of recent residencies in Vienna, Seattle, Lyon, and Philadelphia, and will continue to do so this year at Radio France, encouraging music lovers to combine live performance with their interests outside the concert hall and providing opportunities for parents to enjoy live music with their infants.
In addition to honoring the traditional violin literature, Hahn constantly delves into the unexpected. Her latest commission, her first for solo violin and her first of a set of works from a single composer, is six partitas by Antón García Abril, which she premiered in the United States, Europe, and Japan. García Abril was also one of the composers for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, Hahn's multi-year commissioning project to revitalize the duo encore genre. Her album of those encores won a Grammy for Best Chamber Music/ Small Ensemble Performance in 2015, and the print edition of the complete sheet music will be released by Boosey & Hawkes. Complete with Hahn's fingerings, bowings, and performance notes, the sheet music will ensure that the encores become part of the active violin repertoire.
Hahn's curiosity extends beyond music. After having completed her university requirements at the Curtis Institute at sixteen and having already made her solo debuts with the Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Utah, and Bavarian Radio symphony orchestras; the Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Budapest Festival orchestras, and the New York Philharmonic, among others, she chose to continue her studies for three more years, delving into languages, literature, and writing. She spent four summers at the Marlboro Music Festival and another four in the total-immersion German, French, and Japanese programs at Middlebury College. She holds honorary doctorates from Middlebury College and Ball State University, where there are also three scholarships in her name.
Hahn has released eighteen albums on the Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, and Sony labels, in addition to three DVDs, an Oscar-nominated movie soundtrack, an award-winning recording for children, and various compilations. Hahn's first Grammy came in 2003 for her Brahms and Stravinsky concerto album. A pairing of the Schoenberg and Sibelius concerti spent 23 weeks on the charts and earned Hahn her second Grammy. Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, which was written for Hahn and which Hahn recorded along with the Tchaikovsky concerto, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 2012 Hahn launched Silfra with experimental prepared-pianist Hauschka. The album was produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson and was entirely improvised by Hahn and Hauschka following an intensive period of development. In 2017 she released a retrospective collection that also contained new live material and art from her fans, in keeping with a decades-long tradition of collecting fan art at concerts.
Hahn is known for her natural ability to connect with fans, from their art projects and her YouTube interview series (youtube.com/hilaryhahnvideos), to her violin case's comments on life with a concert violinist on Twitter and Instagram (@violincase). She was an early blogger, sending her fans “postcards from the road” on her website, hilaryhahn.com, and publishing articles in mainstream media. In 2001, Hahn was named “America’s Best Young Classical Musician” by Time magazine, and in 2010, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. Hahn was featured in the Oscar-nominated soundtrack to The Village and has participated in a number of non-classical productions, collaborating on two records by the alt-rock band ….And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, on the album Grand Forks by Tom Brosseau, and on tour with folk-rock singer-songwriter Josh Ritter.
Hilary Hahn, violin