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Andris Nelsons conducts Schumann and Bruckner featuring pianist Yuja Wang

Andris Nelsons conducts Schumann and Bruckner featuring pianist Yuja Wang

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Andris Nelsons and the BSO are joined by the firebrand Chinese pianist Yuja Wang for Schumann's Piano Concerto, a work blending the composer's unique Romantic lyricism and brilliance. The concerto began as a single-movement Fantasia written for his wife Clara, who was considered one of the great virtuosos of the age. Bruckner's magisterial Symphony No. 9, a work left just short of completion at the composer's death in 1896, shows the continuing influence of Wagner in its harmonic language and scope, with the particular Austrian grace and gift for counterpoint for which Bruckner was known.

Featured Performers

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 Yuja Wang, piano
Yuja Wang, piano View biography in full page >

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
Program Notes Audio
SCHUMANN - Piano Concerto (30 min)
BRUCKNER - Symphony No. 9 (59 min)
Concert Preview - Full Program Notes
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