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Andris Nelsons Returns to BSO After Nearly a Year's Absence Due to the Pandemic; New Online Programming Announced

Thursday, January 14, at noon: Stefan Asbury leads a Boston Symphony Orchestra program.

Andris Nelsons Returns to BSO After Nearly a Year's Absence Due to the Pandemic; New Online Programming Announced

Boston Symphony Orchestra has announced new BSO NOW video streams for January, plus much more!

• Thursday, January 14, at noon: Stefan Asbury leads a Boston Symphony Orchestra program including Thomas Adès' Dawn, Debussy's Printemps, Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending with violin soloist Elena Urioste, and Smetana's The Moldau; the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, with guest conductor Jorge Soto, perform Elena Langer's Five Reflections on Water

• Thursday, January 21, at noon: Thomas Wilkins leads a BSO program with selections from Kareem Roustom's Aleppo Songs, Piazzolla's Aconcagua, Concerto for Bandoneón and Orchestra, with soloist Hector Del Curto, and Hindemith's Mathis der Maler; chamber music performance of Carlos Simon's Warmth from Other Suns, featuring BSO musicians Victor Romanul and Wendy Putnam, violins; Mary Ferrillo, viola; and Adam Esbensen, cello

• Thursday, January 28, at noon: Making her BSO debut, Anna Rakitina leads a BSO program featuring Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, Classical, Arvo Pärt's Fratres, with violin soloist Gil Shaham, and Stravinsky's The Firebird Suite; chamber music performance of Missy Mazzoli's Set That on Fire, featuring BSO musicians Elizabeth Klein, flute; Thomas Martin, clarinet; Thomas Siders, trumpet; and Valeria Vilker Kuchment, violin; with guest pianist Vytas Baksys

• Thursday, February 11, at noon: Andris Nelsons leads the BSO in Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Eroica, and Hannah Kendall's Disillusioned Dreamer; chamber music performance of Caroline Shaw's Blueprint, featuring BSO musicians Xin Ding and Catherine French, violins; Mary Ferrillo, viola; and Mickey Katz, cello

• Thursday, February 18, at noon: Andris Nelsons leads the BSO in Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, Pastoral, and Iman Habibi's Jeder Baum spricht; chamber music performance of Debussy's Sonata for flute, viola, and harp, featuring BSO musicians Cynthia Meyers, flute; Danny Kim, viola; and Jessica Zhou, harp

• Thursday, February 25, at noon: Andris Nelsons leads the BSO in Beethoven's Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7 and Carlos Simon's Fate Now Conquers; chamber music performance of Schoenberg's Phantasy for violin and piano, featuring BSO violinist Haldan Martinson and guest pianist Max Levinson

Please note: Each of the BSO's Music in Changing Times online video programs will include a magazine-style segment with musicians, composers, and conductors shedding light on the musical selections and themes associated with each program.


Andris Nelsons, in a Highly Anticipated Return to the BSO, Leads the Orchestra in Concert Streams Launching February 11, 18, and 25: "The Spirit of Beethoven"
BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons-in a highly anticipated return to the Symphony Hall podium after nearly a year's absence due to the live performance hiatus related to the COVID-19 pandemic-will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a series of recordings in the first two weeks of January to be released on the orchestra's new streaming platform, BSO NOW, on February 11, 18, and 25. In a poignant reflection on the Beethoven symphonic cycle Mr. Nelsons was to have conducted with the orchestra this past October and November in honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth-before the forced cancellation of the entire BSO 2020-21 season-the February concert streams will feature Mr. Nelsons and the orchestra in four Beethoven symphonies, nos. 3, 5, 6, and 7, as well as recent orchestral works by Iranian-Canadian composer Iman Habibi, British composer Hannah Kendall, and American composer Carlos Simon. Andris Nelsons loves conducting all the Beethoven symphonies and has been engrossed in recording and performing them over the last two to three years. This selection of symphonies highlights Beethoven's different approaches to the form, as well as being great showcases for the strengths of the BSO. Click here for a video statement from Mr. Nelsons.

Topics for the magazine segments for these Andris Nelsons-led programs will be "Beethoven and the BSO," spotlighting the BSO's unique associations with the composer's music, as well as the history behind the famous Beethoven medallion-the only composer name featured in the architecture of the hall-at the top of the stage proscenium; "Beethoven and Change," reflecting the personal and political realities of Beethoven's life that influenced his composing and affected his music; and "Beethoven and the Visual Arts," focusing on the countless ways Beethoven's music and life story have been depicted in the varied world of the visual arts, including film.

This will also be Mr. Nelsons' first time back in Boston since the October 5, 2020 announcement of a three-year extension of his contract as BSO Music Director through August 2025, with an evergreen clause in place reflecting a mutual intent for a long-term commitment well beyond the years of the new contract extension. The fifteenth music director since the orchestra's founding in 1881, Mr. Nelsons began his tenure in that role in fall 2014. His last appearance with the BSO was in January 31, 2020 when he led the orchestra in Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K.491 (with soloist Yefim Bronfman), and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2.

Stefan Asbury, Thomas Wilkins, and Anna Rakitina Lead the BSO in Concert Streams Launching January 14, 21, and 28, Respectively: "New Beginnings"

Santa]In January, the three episodes in the Boston Symphony Orchestra's second BSO NOW streaming concert series explore different facets of the concept "New Beginnings." The first episode's BSO performances, led by conductor Stefan Asbury (right), focus on the idea of rejuvenation in the natural world: Smetana's depiction of the river Moldau from its source to its end, Debussy's colorful, musical Spring, and Thomas Adès' Dawn, an addition to the great tradition of musical sunrises. Elena Langer's chamber music work Five Reflections on Water was cormmissioned for and originally premiered by the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, who perform it here with guest conductor Jorge Soto. This episode also includes a rhapsodic feature exploring musical depictions of rivers as a complement to Smetana's The Moldau, as well as introductory remarks by BSO violinist Jennie Shames and a conversation between conductor Stefan Asbury and soloist Elena Urioste.

Led by BSO Youth and Family Concerts Conductor Thomas Wilkins, Episode 2 of the series examines the role of place and home in an artist's experience. The Syrian-born, Boston-based composer Kareem Roustom embraces the land of his youth in three of his Aleppo Songs, based on urban folk music of that ancient city. Although he grew up largely in New York City, the Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla's musical "home" was Buenos Aires and the tango, which he transformed with unique sophistication. Hector Del Curto channels Piazzolla's spirit as soloist in the composer's bandoneón concerto Aconcagua, named for an Argentine mountain. Paul Hindemith remained true to his artistic principles even in light of his oppression by the Third Reich, which led to his immigration to the U.S. in 1940. His 1934 Symphony, Mathis der Maler, an orchestral parallel to his opera of the same name, concerns the Renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald's struggle for artistic freedom during a time of social strife. Concluding this episode is Atlanta-born composer Carlos Simon's brief string quartet Warmth from Other Suns, which references the great Black writer Richard Wright's quote about the Great Migration of the 20th century, in which millions of African Americans left the Jim Crow South to seek new lives in the North. Also part of this program are a dynamic feature on the bandoneón with soloist Hector Del Curto, plus a conversation with Kareem Roustom as part of a feature on composers finding their artistic voice far from their place of birth.

BSO Assistant Conductor Anna Rakitina makes her debut with the orchestra leading works representing the distinctive voices of three composers. Violinist Gil Shaham is soloist for Arvo Pärt's atmospheric, ceremonial Fratres ("Brothers"), one of his best-known and most characteristic pieces. With Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, Gil Shahamwe find that talented but deliberately provocative young composer broadening his range to embrace music of grace, clarity, and charm. The first of Stravinsky's three great ballet scores, The Firebird, composed when he was 27, was far more ambitious and imaginative than anything he had written previously. Closing this episode is celebrated American composer Missy Mazzoli's Set That on Fire for chamber ensemble, which takes its title from a phrase used by the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. The energy and precision of the piece demand virtuosic performances from the BSO musicians. Magazine elements in Episode 3 include a feature on "arrivals" in terms of a composer's musical style, as well as a conversation between BSO Assistant Conductor Anna Rakitina and BSO bassoonist Suzanne Nelsen.

Formal BSO titles for conductors referenced in this release: Andris Nelsons is the Ray and Maria Stata BSO Music Director; Anna Rakitina is BSO Assistant Conductor; Thomas Wilkins is the BSO's Artistic Advisor, Education and Community Engagement, and Germeshausen Youth and Family Concerts Conductor; Thomas Adès is the Deborah and Philip Edmundson Artistic Partner; and Stefan Asbury holds the Sana H. Sabbagh Master Teacher Chair on the Tanglewood Music Center Conducting Faculty. The director for the concert portions of the BSO NOW series is Habib Azar; click here for a recent biography.

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