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Andris Nelsons conducts J.S. Bach Mass in B minor

Andris Nelsons conducts J.S. Bach Mass in B minor

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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J.S. Bach's B minor Mass is one of the great works of music history. Although Bach composed most of his sacred cantatas, masses, and Passions wholly in the Lutheran tradition, the B minor Mass sets the complete conventional Catholic Mass text in its five big sections: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. Composed over the course of several years beginning in 1733, the Mass is a monumental, encyclopedic achievement, a culmination of Bach's lifetime of music for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra.

Featured Performers & Ensembles

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

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, Dvoˇrák, 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 Malin Christensson, soprano
Malin Christensson, soprano View biography in full page >

Born in Sweden, soprano Malin Christensson studied at the Royal College of Music.    

Highlights in her 2016/17 season include Fauré's Requiem with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Alexandre Bloch, Bach's Mass in B Minor and Mahler's Symphony no. 2 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons and Handel's Messiah with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia and Paul Goodwin and in staged performances for the Bergen National Opera.           

Recent engagements have included Susanna in staged performances of Le nozze di Figaro  with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Dudamel and with the Gulbenkain Orchestra under McCreesh; Zerlina Don Giovanni for the Houston Grand Opera and at the Helsinki Festival; Bach's Weihnachts-Oratorium with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and Pinnock, the Matthäus-Passion  with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Nézet-Séguin, Mozart's Mass in C Minor with the CBSO and Nelsons and Beethoven's Symphony no. 9 with the Swedish Radio Orchestra and Blomstedt.         

Appearances in opera have also included Barbarina Le nozze di Figaro at the Salzburg Festival and Susanna at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and in Santiago di Chile; Sophie Werther at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden; Miss Wordsworth Albert Herring at the Glyndebourne Festival; Marzelline Fidelio at the Beethoven Festival in Warsaw; Flower Maiden Parsifal at Covent Garden; Drusilla L'incoronazione di Poppea  at the Drottningholms Slottsteater and Papagena Die Zauberflöte at the Théâtre du Châtalet, in Montpellier and at the Vienna Festival.        

She has also appeared at the BBC Proms and at the Lucerne and Daytona Festivals and her recent highlights have included the London Symphony Orchestra with Harding; the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Bělohlávek; the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with Jacobs, Labadie and Leonhardt; the Philharmonia Orchestra with John Wilson, the Gävle Symfoni Orkester with Søndergård; the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with Denève and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Ticciati.       

In recital she works regularly with Simon Lepper, Malcolm Martineau and Roger Vignoles and her appearances include London's Wigmore Hall, the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, the Tonhalle in Zurich and the Innsbruck, Cheltenham, Bath Mozart and Oxford Lieder Festivals.      


Malin Christensson, soprano
Christine Rice, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice, mezzo-soprano Benjamin Bruns, tenor
Benjamin Bruns, tenor View biography in full page >

Benjamin Bruns began his singing career as an alto soloist with the boys' choir in his home city of Hanover. After four years of private singing lessons with Prof. Peter Sefcik, he studied at the Academy of Music and Theatre in Hamburg under the Kammersängerin Renate Behle. While still a student, he was offered a permanent contract by the Theater Bremen, a position which allowed him to build up a broadly based repertoire at an early stage. It was followed by a similar contract with the opera house in Cologne. His professional journey then took him via the Dresden State Opera to the Vienna State Opera, where he can be heard in the great lyrical roles for his voice, such as Tamino, Don Ottavio, Ferrando and Conte Almaviva. In the 2012/2013 season Benjamin Bruns will also be performing there in a new production of Christoph Willibald Gluck's Alceste as Evandro and as the Italian singer in Richard Strauss' Capriccio. He has performed in a guest capacity at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich, the Staatstheater in Nuremberg, at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and also at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. In summer 2012 he made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival as the Steersman in The Flying Dutchman.

Oratorio and lieder form an important counterweight to Benjamin Bruns's stage work. At the heart of his extensive concert repertoire are the great sacred works by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn. He has sung with such renowned ensembles as the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Czech Philharmonic, the Munich Philharmonic, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the WDR Symphony Orchestra, the Cappella Istropolitana, the chorus and orchestra of Netherlands Radio, the Tölzer Knabenchor, the Dresden Baroque Orchestra, the Bremen Philharmonic, the London Symphony Chorus, the orchestra of the Bach Academy in Stuttgart, and the Gächinger Kantorei conducted by Helmuth Rilling. He has a particularly close relationship with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Choir and its artistic director Rolf Beck.

In the 2012/2013 season too, he has found time for interesting concert projects: The Staatskapelle Dresden's prestigious Christmas Concert under the baton of Christian Thielemann, Johann Sebastian Bach's St Matthew Passion conducted by Baron Enoch zu Guttenberg in Berlin and Munich, Pasquale Anfossi's Lucio Silla at the Mozart Week in Salzburg, Haydn's The Creation under H. Rilling in Moscow, Haydn's The Seasons under J. P. Weigle in Berlin, and Mendelssohn's Lobgesang under Daniel Raiskin in Antwerp.

Benjamin Bruns is an awardee of the Bundeswettbewerb Gesang (Federal Singing Competition) in Berlin, the Mozart Competition in Hamburg and the international singing competition of the Schloss Rheinsberg Chamber Opera.

The very special honours accorded to him include the 2008 Kurt Hübner Prize awarded by the Theater Bremen and the 2009 Young Musicians' Prize awarded by the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival.

Benjamin Bruns, tenor
Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass-baritone
Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass-baritone View biography in full page >

The bass baritone Hanno Müller-Brachmann works together with many influencing musicians' personalities of our time as a song, concert and opera singer. Including Sir Simon Rattle, Bernard Haitink, Daniel Barenboim, Herbert Blomstedt, Iván Fischer, Andris Nelsons, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Michael Gielen, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Chailly, Adam Fischer, Daniel Harding, Franz Welser-Möst, Charles Dutoit, Andrés Erozco-Estrada, Jesús López Cobos, Enoch zu Guttenberg or Christian Thielemann. The late conductors Claudio Abbado, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Kurt Masur or Lorin Maazel have deeply impressed Hanno Müller-Brachmann in their joint sessions.

His song debut at the Berlin Philharmonie he gave with Malcolm Martineau. At his song debut in the London Wigmore Hall András Schiff was his partner with whom he establishes a long and deep cooperation in the categories song, chamber music and concert. Further important partners on the piano were Hartmut Höll, Hendrik Heilmann, Philippe Jordan and Daniel Barenboim.

It was Daniel Barenboim who integrated the then 27-year-old student in the ensemble of the Berlin State Opera. In his 13 years' membership he was singing the big Mozart parts under Barenboim's management, but also Orest (Elektra), Amfortas (Parsifal), Escamillo (Carmen) or Wotan (Rhine gold). Under Michael Gielen and Sir Simon Rattle he there vocalized Golaud (Pelleas et Melisande). Furthermore, he could work here with Gustavo Dudamel, Sebastian Weigle and Philippe Jordan. Guest contracts followed in the operas of San Francisco, Madrid, Sevilla and Modena as well as in the State Operas of Vienna, Munich and Hamburg.

Educated as child in the Knabenkantorei Basel, Hanno Müller-Brachmann was very early sought after as a concert singer: The Rias-Kammerchor under Marcus Creed, the Collegium Vocale Gent under Philippe Herreweghe or the Monteverdi Choir under Sir John Elliot Gardiner were his partners. 

He gave his debut in the New York Carnegie Hall in 2000 in Elliott Carter's American premiere of the opera "What next" with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim. He had premiered this piece in the Berlin State Opera before. Further debut performances were Pascal Dusapin's opera "Faustus - the last night" and Otfried Büsing's song cycle "Songs of an island" at the Berlin State Opera as well as a song cycle of Manzoni on the occasion of Claudio Abbados' 75th birthday at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Today the bass baritone can look back on musical experiences with the leading orchestras in Berlin, New York, Boston, Chicago, London, San Francisco, Madrid, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, München, Lissabon, Cleveland, Paris, Zürich, Los Angeles, Mailand et al. He was several times invited to famous festivals as Salzburg, Florence, Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, BBC Proms and others. Award-winning CD and DVD productions manifest his work.

The highlights of the season 2016/2017 are the premiere of "Requiem-Strophen" by Wolfgang Rihm with the symphony orchestra of the Bavarian Broadcasting under Mariss Janson in Munich and Lucerne, his renewed invitation to the Milan Scala (Beethoven "Missa solemnis") under Bernard Haitink, to the London Wigmore Hall with Hendrik Heilmann at the grand piano, to the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst (Golaud in Debussy's "Pelléas et Mélisande") as well as to the Boston Symphony orchestra under Andris Nelsons (J.S.Bach's h-moll Messe). Furthermore, the bass baritone gives his debuts in the Danish National Symphony Orchestra under Michael Schoenwandt in Schumann's "Faust scenes" and in the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Charles Dutoit in Britten's "War Requiem".

Hanno Müller-Brachmann studied under Ingeborg Most in Freiburg and under Rudolf Piernay in Mannheim. He attended the song class of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in Berlin. Now he lectures as a professor for song at the Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe. The triple father is juror for international contests and dedicates himself vehemently for the survival and improvement of the musical education in Germany.

Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass-baritone
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, (TFC) View biography in full page >

Tanglewood Festival Chorus
James Burton, BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
John Oliver (1939-2018), Founder

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus joins the BSO this season for performances of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Poulenc’s Gloria led by Andris Nelsons (September 19-21, the opening program of the 2019-20 subscription season); Galina Grigorieva’s On Leaving and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 2, also under Maestro Nelsons (November 21-26); Duruflé’s Requiem under Giancarlo Guerrero (February 27-March 3), and Stravinsky’s Perséphone with Thomas Adès conducting (March 26-28). In addition, to mark the TFC’s fiftieth anniversary in April 2020, James Burton leads the ensemble in a post-concert Casual Friday performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (April 17). Originally formed under the joint sponsorship of Boston University and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus was established in 1970 by its founding conductor, the late John Oliver, who stepped down from his leadership position with the TFC at the end of the 2015 Tanglewood season. In February 2017, following appearances as guest chorus conductor at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, and having prepared the chorus for that month’s BSO performances of Bach’s B minor Massled by Andris Nelsons, James Burton was named the new Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also being appointed to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director. Mr. Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair on the Boston Symphony Orchestra roster.

Though first established for performances at the BSO’s summer home, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus was soon playing a major role in the BSO’s subscription season as well as BSO concerts at Carnegie Hall; the ensemble now performs year-round with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops. It has performed with the BSO on tour in Hong Kong and Japan, and on two European tours, also giving a cappella concerts of its own on those two occasions. The TFC made its debut in April 1970 at Symphony Hall, in a BSO performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Leonard Bernstein conducting. Its first recording with the orchestra, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with Seiji Ozawa, received a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance of 1975. The TFC has since made dozens of recordings with the BSO and Boston Pops, with Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Leonard Bernstein, Sir Colin Davis, Keith Lockhart, and John Williams. In August 2011, with John Oliver conducting and soloist Stephanie Blythe, the TFC gave the world premiere of Alan Smith’s An Unknown Sphere for mezzo-soprano and chorus, commissioned by the BSO for the ensemble’s 40th anniversary. Its most recent recordings on BSO Classics, all drawn from live performances, include a disc of a cappella music marking the TFC’s 40th anniversary; Ravel’s complete Daphnis et Chloé (a 2009 Grammy-winner for Best Orchestral Performance), Brahms’s German Requiem, and William Bolcom’s Eighth Symphony for chorus and orchestra (a BSO 125th Anniversary Commission). On July 4, 2018, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus joined Keith Lockhart for the “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular” on the Charles River Esplanade.

Besides their work with the BSO, TFC members have also performed with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic and in a Saito Kinen Festival production of Britten’s Peter Grimes under Seiji Ozawa in Japan. The ensemble had the honor of singing at Sen. Edward Kennedy’s funeral; has performed with the Boston Pops for the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics; and can be heard on the soundtracks of Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, John Sayles’s Silver City, and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. TFC members regularly commute from the greater Boston area and beyond to sing with the chorus in Boston and at Tanglewood. For more information about the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and upcoming auditions, please visit


James Burton
James Burton, conductor View biography in full page >

James Burton was appointed Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director, in February 2017. He made his BSO subscription-series conducting debut in October 2018, leading the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in Maija Einfelde’s Lux aeterna. In August 2019 he led the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir and Boston Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of his The Lost Words, a BSO co-commission, as part of the summer’s gala Tanglewood on Parade concert. In April 2020 he will conduct the Tanglewood Festival Concert in a post-concert Casual Friday performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil to celebrate the TFC’s fiftieth anniversary. Mr. Burton made his debut with the Boston Pops in December 2017, returned to the Pops podium last December—as he will again for Holiday Pops concerts in December 2019—and led the Pops this past June at Tanglewood in a program celebrating Queen with Marc Martel.

Born in London, James Burton holds a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier. He began his training at the Choir of Westminster Abbey, where he became head chorister, and was a choral scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge. He has conducted concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hallé Orchestra, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata. Opera credits include performances at English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Garsington Opera, and the Prague Summer Nights Festival, and he has served on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera and Opera de Paris. Mr. Burton’s extensive choral conducting has included guest invitations with professional choirs including the Gabrieli Consort, the Choir of the Enlightenment, Wrocław Philharmonic, and the BBC Singers, with whom he performed in the inaugural season of Dubai’s Opera House in 2017. From 2002 to 2009 he served as choral director at the Hallé Orchestra, where he was music director of the Hallé Choir and founding conductor of the Hallé Youth Choir, winning the Gramophone Choral Award in 2009. From 2002 to 2017 he was music director of the Schola Cantorum of Oxford. Well known for his inspirational work with young musicians, he was director of the National Youth Choir of Japan in 2017 and founded the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir in 2018. Mr. Burton has given conducting master classes at the Royal Academy of Music in London and at the Tanglewood Music Center, and founded a scholarship for young conductors at Oxford. His growing composition portfolio includes works for commissioners including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge, and the Exon Festival, where he was composer-in-residence in 2015. His works are published by Edition Peters. As BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, James Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair, endowed in perpetuity.


Program Notes Audio
J.S. BACH - Mass in B minor (120 min)
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