2019-20 BSO Season

BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra Announce the 2019-20 Season

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2019-20 BSO Performances

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Very Dear Friends,

In 2019–20, my sixth season with the orchestra, the BSO and I look forward to continuing our musical journey not only with each other but with you, our devoted audience. Whether you are a longtime subscriber or new to Symphony Hall, the sense of family and community we share together is so very meaningful to us all. The need for music in our hearts, and in our lives, feels more and more important each year.

A special highlight of next season will be our third “Leipzig Week in Boston” celebrating our wonderful BSO/GHO Alliance with the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig. This year, the GHO itself comes to Boston not only for concerts of its own, but to join forces with the BSO in programs featuring principal players from both orchestras as soloists. Our Shostakovich symphony cycle being recorded live for Deutsche Grammophon continues with the composer’s Symphony No. 12, Symphony No. 2, and Chamber Symphony. Our exploration of Strauss’ music continues with the Symphonia domestica. Among the many guest artists either returning to Symphony Hall or making debuts with the orchestra, tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who was here for Act II of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in 2018, returns for Act III. I am also very happy to be conducting BSO commissions by HK Gruber, Betsy Jolas, Arturs Maskats, and Eric Nathan.

The idea of family remains central, with principal cello Blaise Déjardin, principal wind players John Ferrillo, Elizabeth Rowe, and Richard Svoboda, and principal trumpet Thomas Rolfs among our soloists. Artistic Partner Thomas Adès returns to the BSO podium, and BSO Assistant Conductor Yu-An Chang makes his subscription series debut. April brings a significant family milestone with the 50th anniversary of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

Of course, these are just a few highlights of what promises to be another truly exciting season. We look forward to your being part of it, and we extend continuing thanks for your devotion and great support.

With warm wishes,

Andris Nelsons and the BSO

For his sixth season as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons leads fifteen of the 2019-20 subscription season’s twenty-six weeks of concerts, offering an intriguingly varied mix of music ranging from repertoire favorites to works newly commissioned by the BSO. Audience favorites include music of Beethoven, Dvořák, Gershwin, Grieg, Mozart, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky. Newly commissioned music includes the world premieres of Eric Nathan’s Concerto for Orchestra, Betsy Jolas’s Letters from Bachville, and Arturs Maskats’s “My River runs to thee…” (Homage to Emily Dickinson), plus the American premiere of HK Gruber’s Short Stories from the Vienna Woods.

Guest soloists making debuts with Maestro Nelsons on the podium include Dutch duo-pianists Lucas and Arthur Jussen in Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Austrian soprano Genia Kühmeier in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in their BSO debuts, and young Swedish violinist Daniel Lozakovich in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto for his subscription series debut. Making return appearances are soprano Nicole Cabell in Poulenc’s Gloria, violinist Augustin Hadelich in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Yuja Wang in Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (also featuring BSO principal trumpet Thomas Rolfs, and on a program with James Lee III’s Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula), Mitsuko Uchida in Ravel’s G major piano concerto, Leif Ove Andsnes in Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Yefim Bronfman in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 and Mozart’s C minor piano concerto, K.491, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet in Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F.

In October 2019, for the third “Leipzig Week in Boston” marking the BSO/GHO Alliance, Andris Nelsons leads two programs with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig featuring violinist Leonidas Kavakos and cellist Gautier Capuçon, and a special program bringing together both the BSO and GHO with organ soloist Olivier Latry, BSO wind principals John Ferrillo and Richard Svoboda, and GHO string principals Frank-Michael Erben and Christian Giger. Continuing the BSO’s Shostakovich symphony cycle being recorded live for release on Deutsche Grammophon, Maestro Nelsons leads the composer’s Symphony No. 2, To October; Symphony No. 12, The Year 1917; and Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony in an arrangement by Rudolf Barshai. Maestro Nelsons and the BSO also continue their series of live-in-concert Strauss recordings, this season with the composer’s Symphonia domestica. Following upon his performances here in Act II of Tristan und Isolde, renowned tenor Jonas Kaufmann now returns for concert performances under Andris Nelsons of Act III, with Emily Magee making her BSO debut as Isolde in a starry cast also including returning guest artists Michelle DeYoung as Brangäne, Kostas Smoriginas as Kurwenal, and Günther Groissböck as Marke.

Guests Galore

Compelling collaborations by distinguished guest conductors and soloists are another hallmark of the BSO’s 2019-20 subscription season. Returning to the BSO podium after too-long absences are Sir András Schiff, making his first BSO appearances in the dual role of conductor-soloist, with a program of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Bartók; Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki, with a program of Fauré, Messiaen, Debussy, and the American premiere of a BSO-commissioned work for piano and orchestra by Swiss composer Dieter Ammann, featuring Andreas Haefliger; and Christoph von Dohnányi, who closes the season with music of Haydn, Ligeti, and Tchaikovsky, with BSO principals Elizabeth Rowe and John Ferrillo as soloists in the Ligeti.

Russian-born conductor Dima Slobodeniouk makes his subscription series debut in a program featuring Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk in Elgar’s Cello Concerto; Christian Zacharias returns as conductor and pianist for a program of Brahms and Schumann; French conductor Alain Altinoglu returns for a program featuring the BSO debut of French organist Thierry Escaich as soloist in Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, String Orchestra, and Timpani and Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony; and Pinchas Zukerman returns as conductor and violin soloist for a program of Strauss, Bruckner, Mozart, and Haydn.

In addition, Giancarlo Guerrero returns to lead Helen Grime’s BSO-commissioned Limina, Walton’s Cello Concerto with soloist Johannes Moser, and Duruflé’s Requiem with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus; Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu leads music of Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the award-winning young Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho in his BSO debut, and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2; André Raphel makes his subscription series debut with a program of Coleridge-Taylor, Still, and Uri Caine featuring the BSO debuts of the Uri Caine Trio and vocalist Barbara Walker, along with the BSO Gospel Chorus; and the young Greek conductor Constantinos Carydis makes his BSO debut in a program featuring Midori in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, closing with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, and also including music of Kodály and Greek composer Periklis Koukos.

“Leipzig Week in Boston”

In this third year of the BSO/GHO Alliance, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig itself comes to Boston in late October/early November for two programs of its own, as well as two joint concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, all under the direction of Andris Nelsons. The first of the GHO’s two programs pairs Brahms’s Double Concerto for violin and orchestra, featuring Leonidas Kavakos and Gautier Capuçon, with Schubert’s Great C major symphony. The second program, of music by Mahler, Schumann, Wagner, and Mendelssohn, features Gautier Capuçon in Schumann’s Cello Concerto. The BSO/GHO joint concerts feature Olivier Latry in Richard Strauss' Festive Prelude for organ and orchestra; and BSO wind principals John Ferrillo and Richard Svoboda and GHO string principals Frank-Michael Erben and Christian Giger in Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante in B-flat for oboe, bassoon, violin, and cello, with music of Schoenberg and Scriabin filling out those evenings.

james burtonA Cornucopia of Choruses

As part of the BSO’s 2019-20 season, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, James Burton, conductor, joins Andris Nelsons and the orchestra for Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Poulenc’s Gloria on the season’s opening program, returning later for Galina Grigorjeva’s unaccompanied On Leaving and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 2 also with Maestro Nelsons; Duruflé’s Requiem with guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero; Stravinsky’s Perséphone with Thomas Adès on the podium, and, in April, to mark the TFC’s 50th anniversary that month, selections from Rachmaninoff’s a cappella All-Night Vigil to be led by James Burton.

The season also brings performances by Vocal Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, the BSO Gospel Chorus in Uri Caine’s The Passion of Octavius Catto with conductor André Raphel, and the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir in Duruflé’s Requiem and Stravinsky’s Perséphone.

Family Ties

Members of the BSO taking center stage during the 2019-20 season include, with Andris Nelsons on the podium, principal trumpet Thomas Rolfs in Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Yuja Wang at the keyboard; principal oboe John Ferrillo and principal bassoon Richard Svoboda with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig in Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante in B-flat, also featuring GHO string principals Frank-Michael Erben, violin, and Christian Giger, cello; and principal cellist Blaise Déjardin as soloist in Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1. In addition, BSO principal flute Elizabeth Rowe and principal oboe John Ferrillo join forces with Christoph von Dohnányi and the BSO for Ligeti’s Double Concerto for Flute, Oboe, and Orchestra.

BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès returns to the BSO podium in March with a program bookended by music of Stravinsky—his Pulcinella Suite and Perséphone for speaker, tenor, chorus—plus Adès’s own Lieux retrouvès for cello and orchestra with soloist Steven Isserlis, for whom he wrote it.

Family kinships extend still further to the Symphony Hall podium. Making his subscription series debut, BSO Assistant Conductor Yu-An Chang leads the world premiere of a BSO-commissioned work from Taiwanese-American composer Chihchun Chi-sun Lee, Mozart’s C major piano concerto, K.503, with Austrian pianist Till Fellner, and Tchaikovsky’s rarely performed Symphony No. 3, Polish. The Brazilian-born, former BSO assistant conductor Marcelo Lehninger returns with a program featuring renowned Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire in Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto and closing with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

BSO In Residence, Community Chamber Concerts, Youth and Family Concerts, Casual Fridays, and Discounted Tickets

Following upon the successful launch in fall 2017 of the BSO In Residence program—a new paradigm for building wide-ranging creative collaborations between an orchestra and its surrounding communities—the initiative will continue in 2019–20 with a final year of new activities in Jamaica Plain beginning in fall 2019. As part of the 2019–20 BSO In Residence program, the BSO will collaborate with composers Elena Roussanova, Julius Williams, and Andrew List—all three of whom are members of the Jamaica Plain community and on the Berklee College of Music faculty—to commission three new works, each inspired by an aspect of Jamaica Plain, to be performed both at Symphony Hall and in Jamaica Plain by a chamber orchestra made up of members of the BSO. 

The BSO is also pleased to present another season of Community Chamber Concerts featuring members of the BSO performing in various community venues throughout Greater Boston and beyond, also including the participation of young local musicians. In addition, “Trading Stages,” introduced this past season and continuing in 2019–20, invites student groups from host communities to perform at BSO events at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood throughout the year (details of both programs will be announced at a later date). The BSO will also present its annual Youth and Family Concert Series, featuring three programs throughout the 2019–20 BSO season, including a program led by BSO Youth and Family Concerts Conductor Thomas Wilkins and two programs with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras: Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with conductor Adrian Slywotsky and a program led by conductor Marta Żurad and featuring magician Matt Roberts

“Casual Fridays” will continue in 2019–20 with Friday-evening programs designed to make concerts more affordable and accessible, including free pre- and post-concert receptions for all concertgoers, and an opportunity for audience members to hear from BSO musicians who introduce the program from the Symphony Hall stage. This popular series also features a special section for Conductor-Cam seating, as well as ConcertCue, an innovative app introduced in the 2017–18 season, which presents contextual program notes and images on concertgoers’ mobile devices in real-time during the musical performance. In addition, the BSO’s highly successful $25 tickets for patrons under the age of 40, College Card, High School Card, and Rush Ticket programs—all offering significantly discounted tickets for concertgoers—will continue in the 2019–20 season.