2018 Artist of the Year

[Andris Nelsons] Andris Nelsons Named Musical America's 2018 Artist of the Year
Mason Bates, Augustin Hadelich, Sondra Radvanovsky, and Francisco J. Núñez Recognized as Composer, Instrumentalist, Vocalist, and Educator of the Year

NEW YORK, NY Oct. 17--Musical America, now in its third century as the indispensable resource for the performing arts, today announced the winners of the annual Musical America Awards, recognizing artistic excellence and achievement in the arts.

The announcement precedes the December publication of the 2018 Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts, which, in addition to its comprehensive industry listings, pays homage to each of these artists in its editorial pages.

The annual Musical America Awards will be presented in a special ceremony at Carnegie Hall.

Artist of the Year: Andris Nelsons

Boston Symphony musicians still talk about Andris Nelsons's first concert with the orchestra, in the spring of 2011. He had stepped in on a moment's notice for indisposed Music Director James Levine in the Mahler Ninth Symphony at Carnegie Hall, and a certain "chemistry" was unmistakable. Further concerts cemented the relationship, and in May 2013, the venerable orchestra announced his appointment as music director, beginning the following year.

Born in Riga in 1978 into a family of musicians, Nelsons was 5 years old when he was taken to a performance of Wagner's Tannhäuser, an experience he considers the pivotal moment of his young life. He began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying conducting. He was music director of Britain's City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2015, principal conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Hereford, Germany, from 2006 to 2009, and music director of the Latvian National Opera from 2003 to 2007. His contract with the Boston Symphony has currently been extended through the 2021-22 season.

In addition to his Boston position, in February 2018 Nelsons becomes Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, in which capacity he will bring both orchestras together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance that includes tour appearances by each ensemble in the other's home city, commissions of new works, musician exchanges, and programming that highlights each organization's historical legacy.

Nelsons's work with both orchestras will be documented by an ongoing collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon. With the BSO, he will record a cycle of Shostakovich's 15 symphonies, the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and other works by the Russian composer. The first two releases of symphonies both received Grammy Awards for Best Orchestral Performance. In Leipzig, Nelsons will record the nine Bruckner symphonies, many of them paired with works by Richard Wagner. The first in this series, of the Third Symphony and Tannhäuser Overture, was released earlier this year. The nine Beethoven symphonies will be recorded in advance of the Beethoven year in 2020 with the Vienna Philharmonic, and he also leads the VPO on tour in China. Moreover, he continues his recordings for the BSO Classics label with the four Brahms symphonies, recorded live at Symphony Hall in November 2016 and recently released.  Nelsons also maintains regular collaborations with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He has also been a regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he conducts a new David Alden production of Wagner's Lohengrin this season.

Photo: © 2017 Marco Borggreve/BSO