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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
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Susan Graham - hailed as "an artist to treasure" by
the New York Times - rose to the highest
echelon of international performers within just a few years of her
professional debut, mastering an astonishing range of repertoire
and genres along the way. Her operatic roles span four centuries,
from Monteverdi's Poppea to Sister Helen Prejean in Jake
Heggie's Dead Man Walking, which was written
especially for her. She won a Grammy Award for her collection of
Ives songs, and her recital repertoire is so broad that 14
composers from Purcell to Sondheim are represented on her most
recent Onyx album, Virgins, Vixens & Viragos.
This distinctly American artist has also been recognized throughout
her career as one of the foremost exponents of French vocal music.
Although a native of Texas, she was awarded the French government's
prestigious "Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur," both for her
popularity as a performer in France and in honor of her commitment
to French music.
To launch the 2017-18 season, Ms. Graham will reprise her star
turn in the title role of Susan Stroman's production of
Lehár's The Merry Widow at the MET, then she
joins Nathan Gunn for Bernstein's Trouble in
Tahiti at Lyric Opera of Chicago, in a special concert to
mark the composer's 100th birthday. To conclude the operatic
season, she returns to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opposite James
Morris in Marc Blitzstein's 1948 opera Regina. At the
Boston Symphony, she joins Charles Dutoit for Berlioz's La
Damnation de Faust and Andris Nelsons for Mahler's Third
Symphony, which is also the vehicle for her summer collaborations
at the Tanglewood Festival and later on tour in Europe. Besides
reuniting with Dutoit for Ravel's Shéhérazade at
the San Francisco Symphony, she headlines a gala concert to
celebrate Tulsa Opera's 70th anniversary. She also gives solo
recitals at Emory University and Washington University, and rounds
out the season with a night of cabaret at the Park Avenue Armory in
Last season, Graham partnered with Renée Fleming for the San
Francisco Symphony's opening-night gala, and joined Anna Netrebko,
Plácido Domingo, and a host of other stars to celebrate the
Metropolitan Opera's five decades at Lincoln Center. Having created
the role of Sister Helen Prejean in the world premiere production
of Dead Man Walking at San Francisco Opera, she
reprised her role in Washington National Opera's revival of the
piece. She returned to Santa Fe Opera as Prince Orlofsky in a new
production of Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus, and
reprised her signature portrayal of Dido in Berlioz's Les
Troyens at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Concert highlights
included selections from Mahler's Des Knaben
Wunderhornat Carnegie Hall and Canteloube's Chants
d'Auvergne with the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as a
star-studded Der Rosenkavalier at the Boston
Symphony. She gave U.S. recitals of "Frauenliebe und -leben
Variations," her program inspired by the Schumann song cycle, and
expanded her discography with Nonesuch Records' DVD/Blu-ray release
of William Kentridge's new treatment of Berg's Lulu,
which captured her role debut as Countess Geschwitz at the Met.
Graham's earliest operatic successes were in such trouser roles
as Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di
Figaro. Her technical expertise soon brought mastery of
Mozart's more virtuosic roles, like Sesto in La clemenza
di Tito, Idamante in Idomeneo and Cecilio
in Lucio Silla, as well as the title roles of
Handel's Ariodante and Xerxes. She
went on to triumph in two iconic Richard Strauss mezzo roles,
Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier and the Composer
in Ariadne auf Naxos. These brought her to prominence
on all the world's major opera stages, including the Met, Lyric
Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Covent Garden, Paris Opera,
La Scala, Bavarian State Opera, Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg
Festival, among many others. She performed the leading ladies in
the MET world premieres of John Harbison's The Great
Gatsby and Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy,
and made her Dallas Opera debut as Tina in a new production
of The Aspern Papers by Dominick Argento. As
Houston Grand Opera's Lynn Wyatt Great Artist, she starred as
Prince Orlofsky in the company's first staging of Die
Fledermaus in 30 years, before heading an all-star cast
as Sycorax in the Met's Baroque pastiche The Enchanted
Island and making her rapturously received musical theater
debut in a new production of Rodgers &
Hammerstein's The King and I at the Théâtre du
Châtelet in Paris.
It was in an early Lyon production of
Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict that Graham
scored particular raves from the international press, and a triumph
in the title role of Massenet's Chérubin at Covent
Garden sealed her operatic stardom. Further invitations to
collaborate on French music were forthcoming from many preeminent
conductors, including Sir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, James Levine
and Seiji Ozawa. New productions of Gluck's Iphigénie en
Tauride, Berlioz's La damnation de Faust and
Massenet's Werther were mounted for the mezzo in New
York, London, Paris, Chicago, San Francisco and beyond. She
recently made title role debuts in Offenbach's comic
masterpieces La belle Hélène and The
Grand Duchess of Gerolstein at Santa Fe Opera, as well as
proving herself the standout star of the Met's star-studded revival
of Les Troyens, which was broadcast live to
cinema audiences worldwide in the company's celebrated "Live in HD"
series. Graham's affinity for French repertoire has not been
limited to the opera stage, having also served as the foundation
for her extensive concert and recital career. Such great cantatas
and symphonic song cycles as Berlioz's La mort de
Cléopâtreand Les nuits d'été,
Ravel's Shéhérazade and
Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer provide
opportunities for collaborations with the world's leading
orchestras, and she makes regular appearances with the New York
Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Orchestre de Paris and London
Graham's distinguished discography features all the works
described above, as well as a series of lauded solo albums,
including Un frisson français, a program of French
song recorded with pianist Malcolm Martineau for
Onyx; C'est ça la vie, c'est ça l'amour!, an album of
20th-century operetta rarities on Erato; and La Belle
Époque, an award-winning collection of songs by Reynaldo Hahn
with pianist Roger Vignoles, from Sony Classical. Among the mezzo's
numerous honors are Musical America's Vocalist of the
Year and an Opera News
Award; Gramophone magazine has dubbed her
"America's favorite mezzo."
Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano
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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 www.bso.org/tfc.
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, (TFC)
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The BSCC performs with the BSO, Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus at Symphony Hall, as well as at Tanglewood. After holding auditions for nearly 200 children in the fall of 2017, sixty-five singers grades 5-9 were selected by BSO Choral Director James Burton to take part in the BSO's January 2018 performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 3. These concerts featured the BSO, Women of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and the Mahler 3 Children's Choir under the baton of Maestro Andris Nelsons. Following the success of that project, the Boston Symphony Children's Choir (BSCC) was officially announced as a permanent ensemble of the BSO. The BSCC continues to perform with the BSO, Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus in performances during the Winter Season in Symphony Hall, as well as during Holiday Pops, Spring Pops and at Tanglewood.
Boston Symphony Children's Choir
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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.
James Burton, conductor