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Andris Nelsons conducts Dvořák Stabat Mater

Andris Nelsons conducts Dvořák Stabat Mater

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Dvořák wrote the piece in 1876-77 in response to the deaths of three of his children, using the traditional Medieval Latin poem on the subject of Mary's sorrow over Christ's death. Dvořák's poignant and dramatic setting expresses a heartfelt, personal experience of grief via the four solo roles, and its universality through the power of the chorus and orchestra. The BSO has only performed this work in its entirety on two previous occasions: under Seiji Ozawa in 1980, and in a single performance in Louisville, Kentucky, led by Arthur Nikisch in 1891.


Kristine Opolais has withdrawn from the upcoming Boston Symphony Orchestra performances of Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, under the direction of BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons, February 28-March 2.  Please see social media link/message below from Ms. Opolais about her decision to withdraw from these performances. Ms. Opolais is still scheduled to appear in the role of Sister Angelica in the BSO’s upcoming performances of Puccini’s Suor Angelica, February 21 and 23; she sang the role of Sister Angelica at the Metropolitan Opera earlier this season. 

American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen, in her BSO subscription season debut, will now take on the soprano part in the Stabat Mater. Ms. Willis-Sørensen’s only previous performance with the BSO took place at Tanglewood in summer 2016 when she sang the soprano part for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, under the direction of Andris Nelsons. 

Ms. Opolais has shared the following messages about her decision to withdraw from the BSO’s performances of Stabat Materon her social media platforms.

Featured Performers & Ensembles

Andris Nelsons, conductor
Andris Nelsons, conductor View biography in full page >

The 2020-2021 season is Andris Nelsons seventh as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director. In summer 2015, following his first season as music director, his contract with the BSO was extended through the 2021-22 season. In February 2018 Mr. Nelsons was also named Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. On October 5, 2020, the BSO and GHO jointly announced extensions to Mr. Nelsons current contracts. His contract with the BSO was extended until 2025, and his GHO contract until 2027. An evergreen clause in his BSO contract reflects a mutual intention for a long-term commitment between the BSO and Mr. Nelsons beyond the years of the agreement.

Mr. Nelsons’ two positions, in addition to his leadership of a pioneering alliance between the institutions, have firmly established the Grammy Award-winning conductor as one of the most renowned and innovative artists on the international scene today. In fall 2019 Mr. Nelsons and the BSO hosted the Gewandhausorchester in historic concerts at Symphony Hall that included two performances by the GHO as well as concerts featuring the players of both orchestras together.

In the 2019-20 season, Andris Nelsons led the BSO in repertoire ranging from favorites by Beethoven, Dvořák, Grieg, Mozart, Mahler, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky to world and American premieres of BSO-commissioned works from Eric Nathan, Betsy Jolas, and the Latvian composer Arturs Maskats. The season also brought the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra and collaborations with an impressive array of guest artists. Mr. Nelsons’ work with the BSO resumes with his return to Boston at the start of 2021.

Andris Nelsons’ and the BSO’s ongoing series of recordings of the complete Shostakovich symphonies for Deutsche Grammophon has included the composer’s symphonies 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11 (The Year 1905), and most recently a two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies 6 and 7 (Leningrad). The cycle has earned three Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Performance and one for Best Engineered Album. The next installment, featuring symphonies nos. 1, 14, and 15 and the Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a (arr. Rudolf Barshai), is scheduled for release in summer 2021. Future releases will go beyond the symphonies to encompass the composer’s concertos for piano, violin, and cello, and his monumental opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Mr. Nelsons’ other recordings with the orchestra include the complete Brahms symphonies for the BSO Classics label and a Naxos release of BSO-commissioned world premiere works by four American composers: Timo Andres, Eric Nathan, Sean Shepherd, and George Tsontakis.

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. In November 2017, Mr. Nelsons and the BSO 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. A scheduled February 2020 tour to East Asia was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

In his capacity as BSO Music Director and Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Mr. Nelsons 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 aspect of the alliance is a focus on complementary programming, through which the BSO celebrates “Leipzig Week in Boston” and the GHO celebrates “Boston Week in Leipzig,” highlighting each other’s musical traditions through uniquely programmed concerts, chamber music performances, archival exhibits, and lecture series. The two orchestras have jointly commissioned and premiered works from Latvian, American, and German and Austrian composers.

In addition to his Shostakovich recordings with the BSO, Mr. Nelsons’ exclusive partnership with Deutsche Grammophon includes two other major projects. With the Gewandhausorchester he continues his critically acclaimed Bruckner symphonic cycle under the Yellow Label, of which four volumes have been released to date. His recordings of Beethoven’s complete symphonies with the Wiener Philharmoniker were released by Deutsche Grammophon in October 2019.

Mr. Nelsons frequently leads such orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. As an opera conductor, he has made regular guest appearances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Bayreuth Festival. 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 (2008-2015), Principal Conductor of Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany (2006-09), and Music Director of the Latvian National Opera (2003-07).


Andris Nelsons, conductor Rachel Willis-Sørensen
Rachel Willis-Sørensen View biography in full page >

American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen is known for her diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart to Wagner. A regular guest at the leading opera houses around the world, her voice has been hailed as having a “carmel tone” that is “as lyrical as she is luminous.” 

Her 2018/19 season’s opera engagements include her role debut as Leonora (Il Trovatore) at the Teatro Regio, Hélène (Les Vêpres siciliennes) at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Rosalinda in J. Strauss’s (Die Fledermaus) at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and a televised performance with the Staatskapelle Dresden, Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) at the Metropolitan Opera, and her role debut as the title role in Rusalka at the San Francisco Opera.   

Previous engagements included Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier) at Glyndebourne, Elsa (Lohengrin) at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Opernhaus Zurich, Countess (Le nozze di Figraro) at the Metropolitan Opera and the Wiener Staatsoper, Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Wiener Staatsoper, Houston Grand Opera and Semperoper Dresden, Eva (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) at the San Francisco Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte) at the LA Opera, Leonora (Fidelio) at the Accademia di Santa Cecillia, and Leonora (Il Trovatore) at the Teatro Regio di Torino.

Equally at home on the concert stage, she has performed Strauss's Four Last Songs multiple times, including notably at HRH Prince Charles's birthday celebration. Other repertoire includes Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and Mahler’s 8th Symphony.

Rachel was a member of the ensemble at the Dresdner Semperoper for three years, where she sang the title role in  (Die Lustige Witwe), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Vitellia (La clemenza di Tito), Elettra (Idomeneo), Diemut (Feuersnot), Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus) and Mimi (La bohème).  She won first prize at the 2014 Operalia competition in Los Angeles and at the 2011 Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition, and she was a winner of the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She holds both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Brigham Young University and is an alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

Rachel Willis-Sørensen
Violeta Urmana, mezzo-soprano
Violeta Urmana, mezzo-soprano View biography in full page >

Born in Lithuania, Violeta Urmana is one of the most highly sought-after singers of dramatic German and Italian repertoire.

​At the very beginning of her career, Violeta Urmana made a name for herself worldwide as a highly acclaimed Kundry in Parsifal and as Eboli. She also sang Azucena, Amneris, Didon, Santuzza, Fides, Leonor de Guzman, Judith, Laura, Adriano Colonna, Fricka and others at all major opera houses in the world. In the years 2001-2002 she made the transition to dramatic soprano and sang parts such as Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera, Elisabetta in Don Carlo, Leonora in La Forza del Destino, the Lady in Macbeth, Odabella in Attila, the title roles in Aida, La Gioconda, Medea, Tosca, Norma, Iphigénie en Tauride and Ariadne auf Naxos, Brünnhilde in Siegfried, Sieglinde in Die Walküre und Isolde.

​Now Violeta Urmana continues to sing Italian and German dramatic mezzo-soprano repertoire, that is constantly expanding. V.Urmana is a regular guest at the world’s major opera houses - the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Teatro Real in Madrid, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Opéra National de Paris, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Vienna State Opera, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London - and at the festivals of Bayreuth, Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence, Edinburgh and the BBC Proms.

​She has worked with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Bertrand de Billy, Pierre Boulez, Semyon Bychkov, Riccardo Chailly, James Conlon, James Levine, Jesús López Cobos, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Sir Simon Rattle, Donald Runnicles, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Franz Welser-Möst and Christian Thielemann.

​As a highly acclaimed concert and recital singer Violeta Urmana performs music by G.Mahler, R.Strauss, A.Schoenberg, H.Berlioz, R.Wagner and G.Verdi in the most famous concert halls of Europe, the United States of America and Japan.

​Many CD and DVD recordings document her career: La Gioconda, Il Trovatore, Oberto, Un Ballo in Maschera, Aida, La Forza del Destino, Macbeth, Don Carlo, Andrea Chenier, Parsifal, Cavalleria Rusticana, Verdi’s Requiem, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Rückert-Lieder, Zemlinsky’s Maeterlinck-Lieder, Berlioz’ La mort de Cléopâtre, Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Stravinsky’s Rossignol, songs by R.Strauss, A.Berg, F.Liszt and her CD Puccini Ritrovato a.o. She is Kundry in Tony Palmer's film The Search for the Holy Grail.

Violeta Urmana has received many awards: in London the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for singers, in Vienna the title Österreichische Kammersängerin. In Lithuania she was awarded with the title "Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania" and in Italy with the title "Commendatore dell'Ordine della Stella d'Italia". The Academy for Music and Theatre in Vilnius has awarded her an honorary degree. Violeta Urmana is Artist for Peace of UNESCO.


Violeta Urmana, mezzo-soprano Dmytro Popov, tenor
Dmytro Popov, tenor View biography in full page >

Ukrainian tenor Dmytro Popov began his career at a young age, as a soloist with the Kiev National Theatre where he made his professional debut as Lensky in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. He came to international attention in 2013 when he performed the role of Rodolfo La bohème at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

From here, his global career took off and he has performed multiple roles across the world at significant opera houses with highlights including; Nicias Thais at the Teatro Regio di Torino, Pinkerton Madama Butterfly, Cavaradossi Tosca and Rodolfo Luisa Miller with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Vodemont Iolanta with the Teatro Real Madrid, Macduff Macbeth with the Opéra National de Lyon, Andrej Mazeppa with the Opéra de Monte-Carlo and Un Ballo in maschera at the Theatre du Capitole. Other operatic roles include Tosca at the Oper Stuttgart and Dresden Opera, La traviata at the Wiener Staatsoper and La bohème at the Bayerische Staatsoper.

As well as being an experienced character performer, Popov is established on the concert platform having performed works including Rachmaninov’s The Bells with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome conducted by Antonio Pappano and with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Other performances have included Verdi’s Requiem for the Tanglewood Music Festival and London Philharmonic Orchestra, A Life for the Tsar at the Festival Radio France, Montpéllier and most recently Carmen in concert at the Verbier Festival under Charles Dutoit.

He has recorded Rachmaninov’s The Bells with the Berliner Philarmoniker, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and released on EMI (2013) and continues to work with many great conductors including Antonio Pappano, Valery Gergiev, Kent Nagano, Kazushi Ono, and Vladimir Jurowski to name a few.

Future engagements include Carmen at the Opernahaus Zurich, Rusalka at the Wiener Staatsoper, La Boheme at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Boris Godunov and Rusalka at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Iolanta at the Opera National de Paris Bastille, Un Ballo in maschera at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, La Rondine at the Theatre du Capitole, Iolanta at the Bolshoi Theatre conducted by Tugan Sokhiev and a stage version of the Verdi Requiem at the Hamburgische Staatsoper. He has just sung his house debut at the Metropolitan Opera in La Boheme.

He became the youngest ever opera artist to be granted the title of ‘Honoured Artist of Ukraine’ (2003) which recognises outstanding contribution to performing arts.  In 2007, he also became a winner of the prestigious Placido Domingo Operalia Competition.

Dmytro Popov, tenor
Matthew Rose, bass
Matthew Rose, bass View biography in full page >

British bass Matthew Rose studied at the Curtis Institute of Music before becoming a member of the Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

In 2006 he made an acclaimed debut at the Glyndebourne Festival as Bottom A Midsummer Night’s Dream – for which he received the John Christie Award – and has since sung the role at La Scala, Covent Garden, Opéra National de Lyon, Houston Grand Opera and at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. Recent opera engagements include Oroveso (Bellini Norma) and Colline at The Metropolitan Opera and Grande Inquisitore (Verdi Don Carlo) at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Concert engagements include the London Symphony Orchestra with Sir Colin Davis, Harding and Tilson Thomas; the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Dudamel; the Dresden Staatskapelle with Mackerras; the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Sir Andrew Davis, Belohlávek and Minkowski; the LPO and Philadelphia Orchestra with Nézet-Séguin; the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Dutoit, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Pappano, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Nagano, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Jurowski.

Highlights of the 2018/19 season include a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Colline and Ashby (Puccini La Fanciulla del West), Pimen (Mussorgsky Boris Godunov) at Covent Garden and Bottom (Britten A Midsummer Night’s Dream) for Philadelphia Opera. Forthcoming concerts appearances include Mozart Requiem with Manfred Honeck and the New York Philharmonic, Nick Shadow (Stravinksy’s The Rake’s Progress) with Vladimir Jurowksi and the LPO, Bartok’s Cantata Profana and Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the LSO, Berlioz L’Enfance du Christ with Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, a recital at London’s Wigmore Hall and a European concert tour with the Monteverdi Choir.

Matthew’s recital appearances include the Brighton, Chester and Cheltenham International Festivals, and at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Kennedy Center, Washington and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Recordings include a critically acclaimed Winterreise with pianist Gary Matthewman, Schwanengesang with Malcolm Martineau (Stone Records) and Arias for Benucci with Arcangelo and Jonathan Cohen (Hyperion).

Matthew is Artistic Consultant to the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and an advisory member of the Mahler Foundation. During the 2017/18 season, Matthew was an Artist in Residence at the National Opera Studio.


Matthew Rose, bass
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, (TFC) View biography in full page >

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


James Burton
James Burton, conductor View biography in full page >

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.


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DVOŘÁK - Stabat Mater (90 min)
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