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LEIPZIG WEEK IN BOSTON
J.S. BACH Christmas Oratorio

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Assembled and composed for Leipzig's Christmas season, Bach's Christmas Oratorio is a celebration of the nativity of Jesus Christ originally performed over the course of six days beginning on Christmas Day 1734. As was often Bach's practice, he re-used music from several earlier works, including the independent secular cantatas nos. 214-216. In addition to chorus, the work features soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone soloists, as well as an orchestra configured differently for each of the six sections. The BSO hasn't performed this important work since Charles Munch conducted it in 1960. For these performances, Andris Nelsons and the orchestra are joined by an outstanding group of soloists and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

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 Carolyn Sampson, soprano
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Equally at home on the concert and opera stages, Carolyn Sampson has enjoyed notable successes in the UK as well as throughout Europe and the US.

On the opera stage her roles for English National Opera have included the title role in Semele and Pamina in The Magic Flute.  For Glyndebourne Festival Opera she sang various roles in Purcell's The Fairy Queen, now released on DVD.  In 2012 she sang Anne Truelove The Rake's Progress in Sir David McVicar's new production for Scottish Opera.  Internationally she has appeared at Opéra de Paris, Opéra de Lille, Opéra de Montpellier and Opéra National du Rhin. She also sang the title role in Lully's Psyché for the Boston Early Music Festival, which was released on CD and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy in 2008.  In the 16/17 season she debuts the role of Mélisande Pelléas and Mélisande  for Scottish Opera.

Carolyn Sampson's numerous concert engagements in the UK have included regular appearances at the BBC Proms and with orchestras including The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The English Concert, Bach Collegium Japan, Britten Sinfonia and The Sixteen. She is a frequent guest with the Hallé and has performed with City of London Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras.

In Europe her many appearances have included concerts with Bergen Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of the Bayerische Rundfunk, WDR Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Gürzenich Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra.

In the US Carolyn Sampson has featured as soloist with San Francisco Symphony, Boston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, St Paul Chamber Orchestra and is a regular guest at the Mostly Mozart Festival.  In October 2013 she made her Carnegie Hall recital debut to a sold-out audience in the Weill Recital Hall.

Carolyn works with conductors such as Sir Mark Elder, Markus Stenz, Ivor Bolton, Philippe Herreweghe, Harry Bicket, Trevor Pinnock, Riccardo Chailly, Louis Langrée, Harry Christophers, Robert King and William Christie.

A consummate recitalist, Carolyn Sampson appears regularly at the Wigmore Hall where a recital of lute songs with Matthew Wadsworth was recorded on the Wigmore Live label and released to huge critical acclaim. She has given regular recitals at the Saintes and Aldeburgh Festivals as well as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.  In the 14/15 season Carolyn was a "featured artist" at London's Wigmore Hall.

Carolyn has built up a partnership with the pianist Joseph Middleton over recent years.  Her debut song recital disc, 'Fleurs', with Joseph was released early in 2015 featuring songs by composers from Purcell to Britten, and was nominated in the solo vocal category of the Gramophone Awards. They recently released their second recital disc together, 'A Verlaine Songbook', exploring settings of the poetry of Paul Verlaine for BIS Records.

Carolyn's Harmonia Mundi recording of Poulenc's Stabat Mater and Sept Répons de Ténèbres was awarded the Choc de l'Année Classica 2014. Other recordings include Mozart's Requiem with Bach Collegium Japan and her recording of Purcell songs for BIS which was selected as Editor's Choice in the December 2007 issue of Gramophone Magazine. Her many recordings for Hyperion with The King's Consort include a highly acclaimed CD of Mozart sacred music 'Exsultate jubilate' which was selected as BBC Music Magazine's "Record of the Month" and was also the recipient of an ECHO Award.  She recorded a highly-acclaimed CD of Stravinsky's Les Noces and Mass for Harmonia Mundi and Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly for the Decca label.

Her recent recording with Ex Cathedra on the Hyperion label, 'A French Baroque Diva' - celebrating Marie Fel, a star soprano of Rameau's time won the recital award in the 2015 Gramophone Awards.

Recent highlights include Carolyn's debut with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra, concert performances of Semele with Concerto Köln and Ivor Bolton, recordings and concerts with both Bach Collegium Japan and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, two BBC Prom 2016 performances (Mozart's Mass in C minor with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Ilan Volkov, and a duet programme with Iestyn Davies), a tour of Orlando (Dorinda) with the English Concert, concerts with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, as well as further recording plans and recitals with Joseph Middleton and Matt Wadsworth including the Lincoln Centre New York, San Francisco, Wigmore Hall, and Japan.

Carolyn Sampson, soprano
Christine Rice, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice, mezzo-soprano Sebastian Kohlhepp, tenor Sebastian Kohlhepp, tenor
Andrè Schuen, baritone Andrè Schuen, baritone
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
J.S. BACH - Christmas Oratorio
(150 + 20-minute intermission after Part III)