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Boston Symphony Orchestra Announces Return to Live Performances at Symphony Hall with 2021-22 Season


Highlights include Concert performances of Berg’s Wozzeck with Bo Skovhus and Christine Goerke, World premieres by Julia Adolphe, HK Gruber, and Kaija Saariaho & more.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Announces Return to Live Performances at Symphony Hall with 2021-22 Season

The Boston Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Andris Nelsons will present a 2021-22 Symphony Hall season, September 30-April 30, that will first and foremost celebrate reuniting with their music community post-pandemic, while also continuing the orchestra's commitment to welcoming new audiences to experience the singular gifts the BSO and Mr. Nelsons are so eager to share with devoted listeners in Boston and throughout the world. This commitment to returning to performances with audiences is matched by an equally strong commitment to the health and safety of everyone associated with the BSO, including patrons, staff, and musicians.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra looks forward to reaching out to the greater Boston community and beyond, with such activites as a free Symphony Hall Community Concert on October 3, led by Andris Nelsons, Keith Lockhart, Thomas Wilkins, and John Williams and its free series of community chamber music concerts throughout the city and accompanying neighborhoods, BSO Youth and Family Concerts, including a sensory-friendly program, and annual presentation of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra performances. In addition, the BSO is commited to offering a variety of discounted ticket programs, including its highly popular $30 College Card, its founding tradition of Rush Tickets (now $10), and $25 tickets for people under 40, as well as its Casual Friday and Open Rehearsal four-concert series.

The BSO's 2021-22 Season with BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons
The Boston Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Andris Nelsons take special pleasure in reopening the orchestra's legendary home, Symphony Hall, to its loyal audiences, and in announcing program details for 2021-22. It will be the first fall-winter-spring season since the COVID-19 virus necessitated the shuttering of Symphony Hall in March 2020 and the resultant 18-month hiatus from live performances with audiences. The very first work concertgoers will hear in the BSO's opening concert (9/30, 10/2) is Beethoven's Consecration of the House Overture-a most fitting choice not just because it imparts a sense of renewal and revitalization. It was the work that opened the orchestra's inaugural concert in 1881 and the music used to underscore the opening credits of the BSO NOW streaming programs offered during the orchestra's hiatus from performances for live audiences. This special reopening concert will also feature Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra and the Boston premiere of a new work by the BSO's very own John Williams-his Violin Concerto No. 2 performed by Anne-Sophie Mutter, under the direction of Mr. Williams.

The following week (10/7, 8, 9, 12), Mr. Nelsons leads the first of the season's explorations of the major works of Richard Strauss, the "Love Scene" from Feuersnot, and Death and Transfiguration, on a program with Mozart's Duo-Piano Concerto, K.365, featuring the Jussen brothers, Lucas and Arthur. Also in October (10/14-16), Mr. Nelsons leads Strauss' Symphonic Fantasy on Die Frau ohne Schatten, on a program with Still's Threnody: In Memory of Jan Sibelius and the Sibelius Violin Concerto featuring soloist Lisa Batiashvili (right). The Still and Strauss works remain on the October 19 program, alongside Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, the BSO's most famous commission. Rounding out his programs for the month, Mr. Nelsons leads an all-Russian program featuring Sofia Gubaidulina's The Light of the End, honoring the composer's 90th birthday, and Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 3.

In November, Mr. Nelsons is joined by frequent collaborator Håkan Hardenberger for the American premiere of Jörg Widmann's Towards Paradise (Labyrinth VI), for trumpet and orchestra, on a program with Mahler's Symphony No. 1 (11/18-20). The following week (11/23, 26, 27) brings an all-Brahms program featuring the Serenade No. 2 and Symphony No. 1.

Returning to the BSO podium in 2022 (1/6-8), Mr. Nelsons leads a program highlighted by the world premiere of HK Gruber's Short Stories from the Vienna Woods and an appearance by Hilary Hahn as soloist in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5. The following week (1/13-16) Mitsuko Uchida (left) joins Mr. Nelsons and the BSO for Beethoven's Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4, the launch of a performance cycle of all the Beethoven piano concertos to take place over the next three seasons; this program opens with the world premiere of Julia Adolphe's Makeshift Castle.

Mr. Nelsons' next program (2/24, 25, 26; 3/1) opens with Arvo Pärt's Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, followed by Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with Baiba Skride as soloist, the world premiere of the orchestral version of Kaija Saariaho's Saarikoski Songs with soprano Anu Komsi as soloist, and, to conclude the concert, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (1919 version). Also in March (3/3-5), Mr. Nelsons leads the American premiere of Unsuk Chin's Violin Concerto No. 2, Scherben der Stille (Shards of Silence), with soloist Leonidas Kavakos, on a program with Ives' The Unanswered Question and Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique. The Ives and Berlioz works make up the March 11 Casual Friday program. The season's opera-in-concert, Berg's Wozzeck, boasts an all-star cast, to include Bo Skovhus (right) in the title role, Christine Goerke as Marie, Sasha Cooke as Margret, Christopher Ventris as the Drum Major, Mauro Peter as Andres, and Franz Hawlata as the Doctor (3/10, 12). To close the season and the current phase of the Strauss Project, Mr. Nelsons leads the Boston Symphony in all-Strauss programs that include Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks (4/21, 23, 26); Four Last Songs featuring soprano Lise Davidsen (4/21); the Symphonia domestica (4/21, 22, 23, 26); the "Dance of the Seven Veils" and Final Scene from Salome featuring soprano Marlis Petersen (4/28-30), and An Alpine Symphony (4/28-30).

The expansion of the BSO/Deutsche Grammophon award-winning Shostakovich recording project-now extending beyond the symphonies-continues in the 2021-22 season with performances and recording of the Violin Concerto No. 1 with Baiba Skride, a frequent collaborator with Andris Nelsons and the BSO, as soloist.

BSO Titled Conductors-Thomas Adès, Anna Rakitina, and Thomas Wilkins-and Guest Conductors
Thomas Adès, BSO Artistic Partner, leads his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with Kirill Gerstein on a program with Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra, Ravel's Piano Concerto for the left hand, and Ravel's La Valse (1/27-29). BSO Assistant Conductor Anna Rakitina makes her Symphony Hall debut in a program featuring Alexandre Kantorow as soloist in Tchaikovsky's rarely performed Piano Concerto No. 2, Ellen Reid's When the World as You've Known It Doesn't Exist, and Sibelius' Symphony No. 7 (4/7-9). Thomas Wilkins, BSO Artistic Advisor for Education and Community Engagement (right), is joined by electric bass virtuoso Victor Wooten for Wooten's own La Lección Tres, for electric bass and orchestra, on a program with Coleridge-Taylor's Suite from the ballet Hiawatha and Ellington's Suite from The River (10/28-31).

Guest conductors for 2021-22 include Dima Slobodeniouk (Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Beatrice Rana and Dvorák's Symphony No. 7); Ton Koopman (Mozart's Clarinet Concerto with BSO principal William R. Hudgins as soloist and Beethoven's Symphony No. 2); Elim Chan (Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 with Igor Levit as soloist, Brian Raphael Nabors' Pulse, and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2, Little Russian); Jakub Hruša (Dvorák's Symphony No. 6 and Janácek's Glagolitic Mass with soloists Katerina Knežíková, Sasha Cooke, Brandon Jovanovich, and Adam Plachetka, organist Paul Jacobs, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, James Burton, conductor); Philippe Jordan (Borodin's Overture to Prince Igor, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with soloist Yefim Bronfman, Prokofiev's Suite from Romeo and Juliet); Herbert Blomstedt (Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 with soloist Martin Helmchen, Bruckner's Symphony No. 4, Romantic); Sir Antonio Pappano (Britten's War Requiem with all-star vocalists Albina Shagimuratova, Ian Bostridge, and Matthias Goerne, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Boston Symphony Children's Choir); and Alan Gilbert (Beethoven's Violin Concerto with soloist Joshua Bell, and the American premiere of Bernard Rands' Symphonic Fantasy).

In addition to BSO family members Thomas Adès and Thomas Wilkins, guests returning to the Symphony Hall podium include Herbert Blomstedt, Alan Gilbert, Jakub Hruša, Ton Koopman, Sir Antonio Pappano, and Dima Slobodeniouk. Hong Kong-born Elim Chan makes her BSO conducting debut, as does Zurich-born Philippe Jordan. BSO Assistant Conductor Anna Rakitina (left), whose subscription season debut was postponed because of the pandemic, leads the BSO in live performance at Symphony Hall for the first time in 2021-22.

Guest Soloists and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
The impressive roster of instrumental and vocal soloists encompasses returning favorites and accomplished performers making debuts. Returning pianists include Yefim Bronfman, Kirill Gerstein, Martin Helmchen, Lucas and Arthur Jussen, and Mitsuko Uchida. Making their BSO debuts are two young, award-winning pianists, Alexandre Kantorow of France and Beatrice Rana of Italy. The Russian-German pianist Igor Levit, whose previous BSO appearances were at Tanglewood, joins the orchestra for the first time in Symphony Hall. Electric bassist/composer Victor Wooten, who appeared in 1996 with the Boston Pops, makes his Boston Symphony debut, as does organist Paul Jacobs. Other treasured instrumentalists returning to Symphony Hall include violinists Lisa Batiashvili, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Leonidas Kavakos (right), Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Baiba Skride and trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger.

Returning vocal soloists include sopranos Christine Goerke, Marlis Petersen, and Albina Shagimuratova; mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke; tenor Ian Bostridge; baritone Matthias Goerne; and bass Franz Hawlata. Singers making their BSO debuts include sopranos Lise Davidsen, Katerina Knežíková, and Anu Komsi; tenor Mauro Peter; and bass Adam Plachetka. Joining the BSO for the first time in Symphony Hall are tenors Brandon Jovanovich and Christopher Ventris and Danish baritone Bo Skovhus.

The beloved Tanglewood Festival Chorus, under the direction of James Burton (left), makes two appearances during the 2021-22 season, performing two of the twentieth century's most important choral works: Janácek's vibrant Glagolitic Mass (2/3-5)-which uses Old Church Slavonic for the usual Mass texts-under the direction of Czech conductor Jakub Hruša; and, joined by the Boston Symphony Children's Choir (right), Britten's pacifist-oriented War Requiem (3/31-4/2)-which interweaves poems of Wilfred Owen with the traditional liturgical texts-led by Sir Antonio Pappano.

Music from Composers of Our Time
The BSO continues its longstanding commitment to commissioning a wide range of new works from leading contemporary composers with the performance of six co-commissioned works-from composers representing three continents-in the 2021-22 season. Andris Nelsons leads the world premiere of Julia Adolphe's Makeshift Castle, the American premiere of Unsuk Chin's Violin Concerto No. 2, Scherben der Stille (Shards of Silence) with Leonidas Kavakos as soloist, the world premiere of HK Gruber's Short Stories from the Vienna Woods, the world premiere of the orchestral version of Kaija Saariaho's Saarikoski Songs with soprano Anu Komsi, and the American premiere of Jörg Widmann's Towards Paradise (Labyrinth VI), for trumpet and orchestra with Håkan Hardenberger as soloist. Guest conductor Elim Chan leads Pulse, by young American composer Brian Raphael Nabors, and guest conductor Alan Gilbert leads the American premiere of Bernard Rands' Symphonic Fantasy.

he season-opening concerts feature John Williams, Boston Pops Conductor Laureate and Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood, conducting his own Violin Concerto No. 2 with soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter, who is scheduled to premiere the piece at Tanglewood in summer 2021. Conductor/composer Thomas Adès, who serves as BSO Artistic Partner, leads his own Piano Concerto with Kirill Gerstein as soloist. Andris Nelsons leads Sofia Gubaidulina's The Light of the End. BSO Artistic Advisor for Education and Community Engagement Thomas Wilkins leads Victor Wooten's La Lección Tres, for electric bass and orchestra, with the composer as soloist. BSO Assistant Conductor Anna Rakitina leads When the World as You've Known It Doesn't Exist by young American composer and sound artist Ellen Reid, winner of the 2019 Pulitizer Prize in Music.

Casual Fridays: 4 Friday-evening concert series at 8 p.m.
October 29, February 25, March 11, April 22
For these four Friday-evening concerts patrons can wear their favorite casual attire and enjoy a slightly shorter concert. This lower-priced series also features a special Tech Section for Conductor-Cam seating, which allows patrons to watch the conductor from the orchestra's perspective on strategically placed screens in a rear section of the floor. Immediately after the performance, patrons can stay in the hall for a thought-provoking Casual Conversation with BSO musicians and featured guests to learn about their experiences and the music played that evening.

Open Rehearsals: Four Thursday-morning rehearsal series.
November 11, January 20, March 3, April 14 at 10:30 a.m.
BSO Open Rehearsals offer audience members a unique perspective on the creative dynamic between orchestra and conductor and gain a better understanding of how the orchestra strives to refine its performance by occasionally repeating passages or focusing on a particular movement. Please note that all seats for Open Rehearsals are ticketed, rather than general seating.

Boston Symphony Chamber Players at Jordan Hall
November 7, January 23, February 20, and April 10 at 3 p.m.
The Boston Symphony Chamber Players' Sunday-afternoon chamber music series at Jordan Hall in 2021-22 will include works by Marti Epstein, Michael Gandolfi, Sofia Gubaidulina, Jennifer Higdon, Elena Langer, Shulamit Ran, and Yehudi Wyner, as well as music by Bartók, Dvorák, Louise Farrenc, Glinka, Hindemith, Mozart, and Shostakovich.

BSO Resident Fellowship Program That Was to Launch in 2021 Has Been Moved to 2022
Starting in summer 2022, the BSO will establish the BSO Resident Fellowship Program-an excellence-based training program for early-career orchestra musicians from underrepresented populations. The 1-2-year program will provide opportunities for young musicians of color to study with BSO musicians and perform with the BSO and Boston Pops in their Symphony Hall seasons in Boston, as well as to participate as Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center, the BSO's acclaimed summer music academy. Created under Mark Volpe's leadership as BSO President and CEO (he steps down from the role on June 20, 2021), in partnership with the musicians of the BSO, this new program was announced in late August 2020 and was intended to start in summer 2021 and continue through the BSO's 2021-22 season. Since the BSO has not been able to have auditions of any sort during the pandemic, the orchestra had to move the start date of the fellowship program to 2022.

Formal BSO titles for conductors referenced in this release: Andris Nelsons is the Ray and Maria Stata BSO Music Director; Keith Lockhart is the Julian and Eunice Cohen Boston Pops Conductor; Thomas Adès is the Deborah and Philip Edmundson Artistic Partner; and Thomas Wilkins is the BSO's Artistic Advisor, Education and Community Engagement, and Germeshausen Youth and Family Concerts Conductor. John Williams is the George and Roberta Berry Boston Pops Conductor Laureate. Anna Rakitina is the BSO Assistant Conductor.

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