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Sakari Oramo conducts Sibelius and Busoni

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo and Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein return to Symphony Hall, joining the BSO and the men of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for the visionary Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni's monumental Piano Concerto, a fascinating but rarely heard work of Mahlerian scope dating from the first years of the 20th century. These are the first BSO performances. (Future BSO conductor Karl Muck led the premiere in Berlin in 1904.) Opening the program is a very different sort of piece from the same era, Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 3, a sunny, open work with numerous touches of folk-music simplicity.

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Sakari Oramo, conductor
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Sakari Oramo is Chief Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Principal Conductor of Kokkola Opera, and Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Between 1999 and 2008 he was Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Oramo appears regularly as guest conductor with the most prestigious orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, NDR Sinfonieorchester and the New York and Oslo Philharmonics. Future highlights include engagements with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Göteborgs Symfoniker, Staatskapelle Dresden, Orchestre de Paris and a European tour with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in April 2010.

Originally a concertmaster of the orchestra and an accomplished violinist, Sakari Oramo rose to prominence after stepping in to conduct the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra at a very short notice. The success of this concert led to his appointment as Associate Principal Conductor with the orchestra in 1993, becoming their Chief Conductor in 2003.

During his ten seasons as Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo toured extensively with the orchestra, including a visit to Romania in 2001 where he was awarded the prize for an "outstanding performance of Enescu's work" at the George Enescu International Festival in Bucharest.

Oramo's programmes reflect his Finnish origins, and explore the English tradition through composers such as Bax, Bridge, Britten, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Walton and Constant Lambert. He is also a strong advocate of contemporary music. In 2003 he was Artistic Director of 'Floof' - the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's critically-acclaimed new music festival.

Sakari Oramo has many recordings to his credit. With the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra he has recorded for Ondine a number of discs, including twentieth and twenty-first century works by Finish composer such as Klami, Pingoud, Kaipainen and Lindberg. Oramo has also featured on record as a violinist, performing Kurtag's Kafka-Fragments with the soprano Anu Komsi, as well as works by Magnus Lindberg with the Avanti! String Quartet and with the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra for Ondine.

Oramo's highly-acclaimed discs with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on Warner Classics include a live recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 5, a complete Sibelius Symphony Cycle, and Grieg and Sibelius songs with soprano Karita Mattila. He has also recorded Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No.1 with Leila Josefowicz, and the Rachmaninov Piano Concertos with Nikolai Lugansky. His complete set of Saint-Saëns Piano Concertos with Stephen Hough for Hyperion has earned several awards, including the Gramophone 'Gold Disc' Award in 2008.

In June 2004, Sakari Oramo received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Central England, Birmingham, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the musical life of the city. In 2008 he was awarded  the Elgar Medal for furthering the reputation of Elgar and his music, and in 2009 he received an Honorary OBE from HM the Queen in recognition of his services to music.

Sakari Oramo, conductor Kirill Gerstein, piano
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The multifaceted pianist Kirill Gerstein is rapidly ascending into classical music's highest ranks. With a masterful technique, discerning intelligence, and a musical curiosity that has led him to explore repertoire spanning centuries and numerous styles, he has proven to be one of today's most intriguing and versatile musicians.

Mr. Gerstein is the sixth recipient of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award, presented every four years to an exceptional pianist who, regardless of age or nationality, possesses broad and profound musicianship and charisma and who desires and can sustain a career as a major international concert artist. Since receiving the award in 2010, Mr. Gerstein has shared his prize through the commissioning of boundary-crossing new works by Oliver Knussen, Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau, Timothy Andres and Alexander Goehr. Mr. Gerstein was also awarded First Prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv, received a 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award and a 2010 Avery Fisher Grant.

Highlights of his 2015-16 season in North America include performances of Scriabin's Prometheus: Poem of Fire with Ricardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony, Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2 with Semyon Bychkov and the Berlin Philharmonic, Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 1 with the Cleveland Orchestra, and playing both of George Gershwin's piano concertos in the original jazz-band version to open New York's 92nd Street Y's 15/16 season; re-engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as well as with the Toronto, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Colorado, Utah and Oregon symphonies and the National Arts Centre Orchestra; a tour to Australia and New Zealand; his debut with the Royal Concertgebouw with concerts in Amsterdam and Frankfurt; a European tour with the Czech Philharmonic; and recitals in New York and Houston.

Kirill Gerstein's recent North American engagements include performances with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, and the Boston, St. Louis, San Francisco, Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Indianapolis and Montreal symphonies among others. He has also recently appeared at the Aspen Music Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chicago's Grant Park, Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony, Blossom with the Cleveland Orchestra, and with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Bravo! Vail Valley Festival, Mann Music Center and Saratoga; and performed in recital at New York's 92nd St. Y and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and in Boston, Toronto, Berkeley, Vancouver, Detroit, Miami and Princeton.

Internationally, Kirill Gerstein has played with such prominent European orchestras as the Czech, Munich, Rotterdam and London Philharmonics, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Dresden Staatskappelle, Finnish Radio Orchestra, Tonkünstler Orchestra Vienna, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne and the Zurich Tonhalle, as well as with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo. He has performed recitals in Paris, Prague, Hamburg, London's Wigmore Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, and at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. He made his Salzburg Festival debut playing solo and two piano works with Andras Schiff and has also appeared at the Lucerne and Jerusalem Chamber Music Festivals as well as at the Proms in London.

Mr. Gerstein's second solo recording featuring Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Schumann's Carnaval was released by Myrios Classics in June 2014. His first solo recording with works by Schumann, Liszt and Oliver Knussen, also for Myrios, was chosen by The New York Times as one of the best recordings of 2010. He also collaborated with Tabea Zimmerman on two recordings of sonatas for viola and piano for Myrios, released in February 2011 and November 2012. His most recent recording of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 and the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin was released by Myrios in March 2015 and is the first recording using the new critical edition recently completed by the Tchaikovsky Museum in Moscow using the composer's original second version.

Born in 1979 in Voronezh, Russia, Mr. Gerstein studied piano at a special music school for gifted children and taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parents' extensive record collection. At the age of 14, he came to the United States to study jazz piano as the youngest student ever to attend Boston's Berklee College of Music. After completing his studies in three years and following his second summer at the Boston University program at Tanglewood, Mr. Gerstein turned his focus back to classical music and moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Solomon Mikowsky and earned both Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees by the age of 20. He continued his studies in Madrid with Dmitri Bashkirov and in Budapest with Ferenc Rados.

Mr. Gerstein became an American citizen in 2003 and divides his time between the United States and Germany.

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

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 Mass led by Andris Nelsons, the British-born James Burton was named the new Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also being appointed to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director. He occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair on the Boston Symphony Orchestra roster. This season the Tanglewood Festival Chorus joins the BSO for performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (October 25-30), Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (November 29-December 1), Puccini’s Suor Angelica (February 21 and 22), and Dvořák’s Stabat Mater (February 28-March 2) all under Andris Nelsons, and Estévez’s Cantata Criolla (April 11-13) with conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

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. Now numbering more than 300 members, the ensemble 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, 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. Throughout its history, the TFC has established itself as a favorite of conductors, soloists, critics, and audiences alike.

 

 

Program Notes Audio
SIBELIUS - Symphony No. 3 (31 min)
BUSONI - Piano Concerto (75 min)
Audio Concert Preview - Program Notes
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