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Saturday Morning Rehearsal - Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Bernstein

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Featured Performers & Ensembles

Andris Nelsons, conductor
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The 2018-19 season is Andris Nelsons’ fifth as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director. Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year, Mr. Nelsons will lead fourteen of the BSO’s twenty-six subscription programs in 2018-19, ranging from orchestral works by Haydn, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Copland to concerto collaborations with acclaimed soloists, as well as world and American premieres of pieces newly commissioned by the BSO from Thomas Adès, Sebastian Currier, Andris Dzenītis, and Mark-Anthony Turnage; the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra, and concert performances of Puccini’s one-act opera Suor Angelica. 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. In February 2018, he became Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, in which capacity he brings both orchestras together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance. Immediately following the 2018 Tanglewood season, Maestro Nelsons and the BSO made their third European tour together, playing concerts in London, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Lucerne, Paris, and Amsterdam. Their first European tour, following the 2015 Tanglewood season, took them to major European capitals and the Lucerne, Salzburg, and Grafenegg festivals; the second, in May 2016, took them to eight cities in Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg.

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 5, 8, 9, and 10, the initial releases in a complete Shostakovich symphony cycle for that label; and a new two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies 4 and 11, The Year 1905. 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.

The 2018-19 season is Maestro Nelsons’ final season as artist-in-residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund and marks his first season as artist-in-residence at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. In addition, he continues his regular collaborations with the Vienna Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic. Throughout his career, he has also established regular collaborations with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, 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 Yuja Wang, piano
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Her singular blend of technical prowess, keen musical insight, and emotional depth have established Yuja Wang as one of the world's finest performers.

The power of her interpretations emerges from a distinct combination of her exceptional presence on stage and a natural affinity and inquisitive approach to the repertoire, which ranges from Mozart to Gershwin and beyond. 'Charismatic', 'breathtaking', 'flawless' and 'heartfelt' are just a selection of the superlatives used frequently by critics worldwide.

Yuja's 2017-18 season features recitals, concert series, and extensive tours with some of the world's most venerated ensembles and conductors. She begins the summer of 2017 on tour with the London Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas and a programme featuring Brahms' Piano Concerto No.2, followed by a performance of the first concerto at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Lionel Bringuier. Later engagements include concerts with the Munich Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev, a series of performances at the Verbier Festival, and a three-city German tour with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic.

She also embarks on play-conduct tours with two of the best chamber orchestras in the world, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe, as well as joining the inaugural tour of Jaap van Zweden with the New York Philharmonic and the final tour of Yannick Nézet-Séguin's directorship with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Other notable appearances include concerts in Hong Kong, Miami, Washington D.C., Prague, Tel Aviv, and Berlin.

Winter of 2017 sees Yuja reunite with violinist and frequent collaborator Leonidas Kavakos for a European chamber tour, whilst in the spring of 2018, Ms. Wang will embark on a vast-reaching recital tour at premiere venues in the US and Europe; New York City, San Francisco, Rome, Vienna, Berlin, Paris, and beyond.

As part of its commitment to the arts, Rolex selected Yuja Wang as one of its cultural ambassadors in 2009, a distinction she holds to this day. She has been described by the New York Times as "one of the best young pianists around" and hailed by the Sydney Morning Herald for her "blistering technique." In July 2015 the Los Angeles Times declared: "Hers is a nonchalant, brilliant keyboard virtuosity that would have made both Prokofiev (who was a great pianist) and even the fabled Horowitz jealous." This combination of critical acclaim, audience ovations, return engagements at leading international venues, and an exclusive recording relationship with Deutsche Grammophon confirm Yuja Wang's status as one of this century's most compelling and engaging artists.

Yuja's way of making music connects with a strikingly broad demographic. It appeals to everyone, from classical music newcomers to devoted pianophiles, and has attracted an exceptionally youthful following. Her love for fashion, recognized by her induction into Giorgio Armani's Sì Women's Circle, has also contributed to the popular appeal of an artist who is armed with the ability to challenge the status quo and to welcome fresh converts to the concert hall.

Yuja Wang was born in Beijing and encouraged to make music at a young age by her dancer mother and percussionist father, which served as the catalyst for the never-ending thirst for knowledge that has sustained her continued musical development.

She began piano lessons at the age of six, and her progress was accelerated by studies at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. In 1999 she moved to Canada to participate in the Morningside Music summer programme at Calgary's Mount Royal College, and thereafter enrolled as the youngest ever student at Mount Royal Conservatory. Wang's exceptional gifts were widely recognised in 2001 with her appointment as a Steinway Artist, and again the following year when she was offered a place at Philadelphia's prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Gary Graffman.

By the time Yuja graduated from Curtis in 2008, she had already gained momentum following the spectacular success of her debut three years earlier with the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa. Wang attracted widespread international attention in March 2007 when she replaced Martha Argerich on short notice in performances of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and within the span of just a few seasons she was working with conductors of the highest calibre. Over the past decade of her career, she has worked with such pre-eminent Maestros as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel, Valery Gergiev, Michael Tilson Thomas, Antonio Pappano, Charles Dutoit, and Zubin Mehta.

In January 2009, Yuja Wang became an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist. Her debut album, Sonatas & Etudes, prompted Gramophone to name her as its 2009 Young Artist of the Year. Her 2011 release of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto and Paganini's Rhapsody with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Claudio Abbado was nominated for a Grammy® Award in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category. Subsequent releases for the label include Fantasia, an album of encore pieces by Albéniz, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, Scriabin, and others; a live recording of Prokofiev's Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and an acclaimed coupling of Ravel's two piano concerti with Fauré's Ballade, recorded with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and Lionel Bringuier.

Reviewers around the world have documented the full range of Wang's work, capturing the essence of her musicianship and observing the development of an artist blessed with consummate technical abilities, an inexhaustible creative imagination, and an unmatched artistry.

Yuja Wang, piano
Rafi Bellamy Plaice, boy soprano
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Rafi was a chorister at Chichester Cathedral for six years, from 2011-2017, becoming Head Chorister in his final year. During his first three years in the choir he worked under the direction of Sarah Baldock, and then in his last three under Charles Harrison.

As a chorister he toured to Germany, France and the Netherlands. He was also featured as a soloist as Young Nicholas in Britten's St Nicholas (Petersfield Music Festival and Southern Cathedrals Festival) and in the role of the Boy in Mendelssohn's Elijah for the Fernhurst Choral Society. As a pupil at the Prebendal School, he sang the title roles of Robin Hood and Oliver.

Rafi is now in his first year as a music scholar at  Lancing College, where he sings in the choir under the direction of Neil Cox, balancing his school commitments with his busy schedule as BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year.

Rafi's favourite composers are Mozart, Purcell and Gibbons. His other passions besides music are Lego, Egyptology and the works of JRR Tolkien.

Rafi Bellamy Plaice, boy soprano
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.

 

 

James Burton
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James Burton was appointed Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and to the new position of BSO Choral Director, in February 2017. Born in London, Mr. Burton began his training at the Choir of Westminster Abbey, where he became head chorister. He was a choral scholar at St. John's College, Cambridge, and holds a master's degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier. He has conducted concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hallé, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata; in early 2016 he made his debut with the Orquestra Sinfònica Nacional with concerts in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Opera credits include Don Giovanni and La bohème at English National Opera, Così fan tutte at English Touring Opera, The Magic Flute at Garsington, and Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica at the Prague Summer Nights Festival. He has served on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra de Paris, English National Opera, Opera Rara, and Garsington Opera, where he was honored with the Leonard Ingrams Award in 2008. He has also conducted in London's West End and led a UK tour of Bernstein's Wonderful Town in 2012. His 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 at the Dubai Opera house in its inaugural season earlier this year. 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. He returned to Manchester in 2014, preparing the choirs for a Grammy-nominated recording under Sir Mark Elder of Vaughan Williams's Sea Symphony. From 2002 to 2017 he was music director of the chamber choir Schola Cantorum of Oxford, touring all over the world and recording with Hyperion Records. He collaborates regularly with leading young musicians and in 2017 appeared as guest director of the National Youth Choir of Japan and the Princeton University Glee Club, as well as the Genesis Sixteen. He teaches conducting, and has given master classes at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music. In 2011 he founded a conducting scholarship with Schola Cantorum of Oxford. His compositions and arrangements have been performed internationally, and his orchestral arrangements for Arlo Guthrie have been performed by the Boston Pops, by many other leading U.S. orchestras, and at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. His commissions have included the music for the 2010 World Equestrian Games opening ceremony, a setting for chorus and orchestra of Thomas Hardy's The Convergence of the Twain commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, and a recent Christmas carol premiered by the Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge, live on BBC Radio 3. His choral 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
MENDELSSOHN - Symphony No. 4, Italian (38 min)
BEETHOVEN - Piano Concerto No. 1 (37 min)
BERNSTEIN - Chichester Psalms (20 min)
Full Program Notes - -