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In a career spanning five decades, John Williams has become one of America's most accomplished and successful composers for film and for the concert stage. He has served as music director and laureate conductor of one of the country's treasured musical institutions, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and he maintains thriving artistic relationships with many of the world's great orchestras. He remains one of our nation's most distinguished and contributive musical voices.
Mr. Williams has composed the music and served as music director for more than 100 films. His nearly 40-year artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood's most acclaimed and successful films, including Schindler's List, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones films, Lincoln, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse, The Adventures of Tintin, Amistad, Munich, Hook, Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and Empire of the Sun. Mr. Williams also composed the scores for all six Star Wars films, the first three Harry Potter films, Superman, JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, Memoirs of a Geisha, Far and Away, The Accidental Tourist, Home Alone, Nixon, The Patriot, Angela's Ashes, Seven Years in Tibet, The Witches of Eastwick, Rosewood, Sleepers, Sabrina, Presumed Innocent, The Cowboys, The Reivers, and Goodbye, Mr. Chips, among many others. His most recent film project was The Book Thief. He has worked with such legendary directors as Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, and Robert Altman. He adapted the score for the film version of Fiddler on the Roof, for which he composed original violin cadenzas for renowned virtuoso Isaac Stern. He has appeared on recordings as pianist and conductor with Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Jessye Norman, and others. Mr. Williams has received five Academy Awards and a total of forty-nine Oscar nominations, making him the Academy's most-nominated living person. He also has received seven British Academy Awards (BAFTA), twenty-one Grammys, four Golden Globes, five Emmys, and numerous gold and platinum records.
A composition student of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Mr. Williams also studied piano at the Juilliard School with Madame Rosina Lhevinne. He began his career in the film industry working with such accomplished composers as Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, and Franz Waxman. He went on to write music for more than 200 television films for the groundbreaking, early anthology series Alcoa Theatre, Kraft Television Theatre, Chrysler Theatre, and Playhouse 90. His more recent contributions to television music include themes for NBC Nightly News ("The Mission"), the theme for what has become network television's longest-running series, NBC's Meet the Press, and the prestigious PBS arts showcase Great Performances.
Mr. Williams has composed numerous works for the concert stage, among them two symphonies, and concertos for flute, oboe, violin, clarinet, viola, and tuba. His cello concerto was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered by Yo-Yo Ma at Tanglewood in 1994. Mr. Williams also has filled commissions by several of the world's leading orchestras, including a bassoon concerto for the New York Philharmonic, a trumpet concerto for the Cleveland Orchestra, and a horn concerto for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. "Seven for Luck," a seven-piece song cycle for soprano and orchestra based on texts by former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, was premiered by the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood in 1998. And at the opening concert of their 2009-10 season, James Levine led the Boston Symphony in the premiere of Mr. Williams's "On Willows and Birches," a new concerto for harp and orchestra.
In January 1980, Mr. Williams was named nineteenth conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, succeeding the legendary Arthur Fiedler. He currently holds the title of Laureate Conductor, which he assumed following his retirement in December 1993, after fourteen highly successful seasons. He also holds the title of Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood.
One of America's best-known and most distinctive artistic voices, Mr. Williams has composed music for many important cultural and commemorative events, including "Liberty Fanfare" for the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986, "American Journey" for the America's Millennium concert in Washington, D.C., on New Year's Eve 1999, and "Soundings" for the gala opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. In the world of sport, he has contributed musical themes for the 1984, 1988, and 1996 Summer Olympic Games, and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
Mr. Williams holds honorary degrees from twenty-one American universities, including The Juilliard School, Boston College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Boston University, the New England Conservatory of Music, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, The Eastman School of Music, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and the University of Southern California. He is a recipient of the 2009 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States Government. In 2003 he received the Olympic Order, the IOC's highest honor, for his contributions to the Olympic movement. He served as the Grand Marshal of the 2004 Rose Parade in Pasadena, and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honor in December 2004. In January 2009, Mr. Williams composed and arranged "Air and Simple Gifts" especially for the inaugural ceremony of President Barack Obama.
John Williams, conductor
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Andris Nelsons is Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and is Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. With these positions, and in leading a pioneering alliance between two such esteemed institutions, Grammy Award-winning Nelsons is firmly underlined as one of the most renowned and innovative conductors on the international scene today.
Nelsons began his tenure as Music Director of the BSO in the 2014/15 season and after one year, his contract was extended through the 2021/22 season. Last season, the BSO and Nelsons embarked on a tour to Japan together for the first time, notably with three performances in Suntory Hall. At the beginning of the 2018/19 seasons, Nelsons toured Europe together with the orchestra for the third time since Nelsons’ Music Directorship, visiting the London Proms, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Lucerne, Paris and Amsterdam. Nelsons gave his debut with the Gewandhausorchester in 2011, followed by regular performances at the Gewandhaus zu Leipzig in subsequent years. In February 2018, Nelsons received the title of Gewandhauskapellmeister in a four-week inaugural festival, also marking the 275th anniversary of the orchestra. Three joint tours for the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Nelsons have been incorporated into the 2018/2019 season: two European tours, one in October 2018, including stops at London’s prestigious Royal Festival Hall, in Scandinavia and in Nelsons' native city, Riga, and the other in January 2019, to venues including the new Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Philharmonie de Paris and Vienna’s Musikverein. The season’s third tour in May/June 2019 takes the orchestra and Nelsons to Japan and China, where they will appear together for the first time.
The 2018/19 season marks Nelsons’ final season as Artist-in-Residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund, and Nelsons’ first season as Artist-in-Residence at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. Furthermore, Nelsons continues his regular collaborations with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Wiener Philharmoniker, with whom he lead a tour through China last season in addition to his ongoing guest performances at the Musikverein in Vienna. In 2020, he will conduct the Wiener Philharmoniker’s prestigious New Year’s Day concert, broadcast to millions across the world. Throughout his career, Nelsons has established regular collaborations with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Philharmonia Orchestra. Nelsons has been a regular guest at the Bayreuther Festspiele and at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
Andris Nelsons has an exclusive recording relationship with Deutsche Grammophon, which has paved the way for three landmark projects. Nelsons and the BSO partner on recording the complete Shostakovich symphonies, and the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District. The first and second instalments have both received consecutive Grammy Awards for Best Orchestral performance, the third has been nominated for two Grammy Awards, and the fourth instalment will be released in February 2019. Nelsons and the yellow label also have embarked upon a project with the Gewandhausorchester that sheds new light on the symphonies of Bruckner, and pairs these distinctive symphonic pieces with works by Wagner. The most recent release appeared in April 2018 to widespread critical acclaim. Furthermore, Nelsons will record Beethoven’s complete symphonies with the Wiener Philharmoniker between 2016-2019, and will return to Vienna to perform the complete cycle in 2020, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
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 2008-2015, Principal Conductor of Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany 2006-2009 and Music Director of Latvian National Opera 2003-2007.
Andris Nelsons, conductor