Boston Philharmonic Orchestra Announces 2014-2015 Season

Individual tickets and subscriptions are now on sale for the 36th season of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the third season of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. The seven-concert series includes timeless masterpieces and extraordinary soloists led by Maestro Benjamin Zander. Join us for special programs including the Discovery Series Thursday concerts, 7:30 p.m. at Sanders Theatre - the perfect program for the novice concertgoer, featuring Maestro Zander's illuminating and entertaining commentary immediately before each piece on the program - and Maestro Zander's acclaimed, innovative pre-concert talks (6:45 p.m. for 8 p.m. Saturday BPO performances, 1:45 p.m. for 3 p.m. Sunday BPO performances) - where the Maestro pours his passion and energy into bringing music alive for the novice and experienced music lover alike.

"There are certain givens" about the upcoming season, Maestro Zander says. "Each concert has at least one major symphonic work that is universally regarded as a timeless masterpiece. But we will only program such examples of the great repertoire when we know we can offer some insight or some aspect of the performance that is revelatory."

The season opens on October 23, 25, and 26 with Mozart's Overture to Cosí fan tutte, a great comic opera filled with the vagaries of love, its ecstasies, surprises and wrenching reversals. Following is Mozart's Sinfonia concertante, a piece that showcases the composer's experimental and revolutionary side in its unusual form and interaction between two solo instruments. The solo performers for the piece are the great queens of their instruments, violinist Miriam Fried and violist Kim Kashkashian. The performance closes with Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, a symphony overflowing with love, tender confessional passages, rapt outpourings, hearty humor, and occasional dark moments.

The BPO's second concert offers three works by the Finnish composer Sibelius and one by Brahms on November 20, 22, and 23. Finlandia, written in protest over Russian incursions and censorship in Finland, is both turbulent and melodic, becoming a sort of alternate to the actual Finnish national anthem. The Swan of Tuonela is, in contrast, dark, haunting, and ineffably beautiful with a striking English horn solo played by Peggy Pearson. Symphony No. 7, Sibelius' last symphony and the crowning achievement of his compositional life, will complete the trio of Sibelius' work. Korean pianist HaeSun Paik will be featured in one of the greatest and most demanding of all piano concertos, Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2.

February's concerts will include a date at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. On February 19-22, the BPO will present a program that reflects the tension and imbalance between youth and old age and the radical change vying with a tendency towards nostalgia in turn-of-the-century Vienna. J. Strauss, Jr.'s Frühlingsstimmen leads with an evocation of a time of elegance, charm, and endless youth that never really was, composed by a master of the waltz. R. Strauss's Four Last Songs moves to the other end of the spectrum, the composer's great last work that displays his supreme, uncanny musing on the things of this world that linger most memorably just before the light is extinguished forever. The program closes with Mahler's Symphony No. 4, light and charming on the surface, but constantly plumbing deep recesses - quite possibly the most perfectly beautiful composition Mahler ever wrote, conducted by our leading interpreter of Mahler, Maestro Zander. These last two pieces will feature the extraordinary Polish soprano Aga Mikolaj, making her Boston debut.

The BPO's season will close with a series from the 16th to 19th of April that features Wagner's Overture to Tannhäuser, Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto No. 1, and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. Wagner's music is unforgettable, a dramatic conflicted collision between idealized religion and idealized passion. The cello concerto will feature twenty-year-old Jonah Ellsworth as the phenomenal soloist already well-known in Boston. Berlioz provides the same passion and religiosity as Wagner, only driven to the brink of obsessive madness. This amazing early work of Berlioz ushered in previously unknown orchestra colors and instrumental techniques, and employed harmonic and rhythmic audacities that were so shocking in 1830 that, in a good performance, they still manage to stun us today.

The BPYO opens its third season on November 9 at Symphony Hall with Festive Overture by Shostakovich. One of the world's most honored and revered musicians, legendary Russian cellist Natalia Gutman, returns to Boston to rehearse, perform, and study with the orchestra's youth, thrilling the audience with Dvo?ák's Cello Concerto. The program closes with Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, one of the 20th century's most invigorating orchestral works, commissioned in 1945 by Serge Koussevitzky as a display piece for his ultra-virtuosic Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The second concert of the BPYO series showcases both the brilliance of the orchestra as a whole and the astonishing talent of some of its constituent members on February 1 at the Sanders Theatre. First performed will be Schoenberg's powerful, kaleidoscopic, expressionist masterpiece Five Pieces for Orchestra. Although written in the atonal style that is reputed to be "difficult," the Five Pieces ride the crest of such an intense wave of emotional expression that they never fail to make a powerful impression on audiences. The audience will also be delighted by the Second Suite from Ravel's ballet Daphnis and Chloe. It is lavish in its scoring but, like all Ravel, extraordinarily lapidary in the exactness of its craftsmanship and the ravishing beauty of its harmonic invention. The highlight of this program, however, is the group of concertos or concerto movements played by the winners of the BPYO concerto competition, to be held in the fall. As of this writing the players and pieces are unknown, but you will be sure to be amazed and moved by the extraordinary depth, skill, and maturity of these young players.

The 2014-2015 season of the BPYO closes with the most unusual event in its history so far, one that, we predict, will cause huge audience excitement and will be talked about for a long time. The concert on April 26 at Symphony Hall will be devoted to the entire third act of Wagner's opera Siegfried. This act, from the third of the four operas of Wagner's Ring cycle, is one of the crowning achievements in the composer's work, and indeed in all of opera. This performance is fortunate to have the participation of a magnificent international cast, all of whom have sung their roles at the Met, the Paris Opera and comparable opera houses around the world: soprano Alwyn Mellor, mezzo-soprano Deborah Humble, tenor Stefan Vinke, and baritone Mark Delavan. With this piece's rich, varied, sumptuous and difficult orchestral writing, the BPYO is sure to outdo itself in meeting its greatest challenge ever!

Individual tickets and subscriptions are now available by visiting or by calling the box office at 617-236-0999 Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The orchestra's venues include:

BPO Discovery Series, Thursdays - Sanders Theatre (45 Quincy Street, Cambridge)
BPO Weekend Series, Saturdays - Jordan Hall (30 Gainsborough Street, Boston)
BPO Weekend Series, Sundays - Sanders Theatre
Youth Orchestra Concerts, Sundays - Symphony Hall (201 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston) or Sanders Theatre

The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, founded by Benjamin Zander in 1979, features professional, student, and amateur musicians. One of Boston's premier orchestras, the Boston Philharmonic is not your average musical ensemble; on the contrary, the Boston Philharmonic follows a vision of "passionate music making without boundaries." To us, this means presenting top-notch music in a manner that both music aficionados and the casual listener can enjoy.

The orchestra's season includes performances at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall, Sanders Theatre at Harvard University and often Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall. The Philharmonic performs with a wide range of soloists from highly gifted performers at the start of their international careers such as Stefan Jackiw, Gabriela Montero and Caitlin Tully, to world-famous artists like Yo-Yo Ma, Alexander Baillie, Russell Sherman, Jon Kimura Parker and Kim Kashkashian and legendary masters such as Ivry Gitlis, Denes Zsigmondy, Georgy Sandor, Leonard Shure and Oscar Shumsky.

The Philharmonic has released five critically acclaimed recordings, including works by Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mahler, Shostakovich and Ravel. Among many other reviews of extravagant praise, Classic CD magazine gave the Boston Philharmonic's recording of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring the highest rank of all available recordings. Of Mahler's Symphony No. 6, American Record Guide wrote: "This joins the Rattle and the two Bernstein recordings as the finest on record...All the glory to Zander and his semi-professional orchestra, for the sixth is probably Mahler's most difficult and complex symphony...All things considered, when I reach for a recording of the sixth to play for my own pleasure, it will most likely be this one."

One way we achieve our vision is through our innovative pre-concert talks with the conductor, Benjamin Zander. Zander has a unique approach to explaining classical music, and his intense passion for the art form attracts hundreds of attendees for each talk. As a result, our audience describes the Boston Philharmonic as "passionate," "inspiring," "unique," and--perhaps our favorite descriptor--"un-stuffy."

Now entering its third season, the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra has already established itself as a significant feature in the cultural and educational fabric of Boston and beyond.

The inaugural 2012-13 season of the BPYO culminated in a 5-city concert tour of the Netherlands, featuring a performance of Mahler's Second Symphony in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. In the course of the 12-day tour, the orchestra received two superlative five-star reviews in national papers, collaborated with an orchestra of 600 12-year-olds, and was featured in the International Koorbiënnale Haarlem.

BPYO's motto is "Shaping Future leaders through music." Complementing their musical assignments, BPYO members receive weekly leadership assignments from Mr. Zander and have opportunities to discuss the rehearsal process, their musical and life experiences, personal leadership, and effective contribution, as well as serving as mentors to younger musicians through the BPO's Crescendo! programs.

The 120 members of the BPYO range in age from 12 to 21, and are chosen through a highly selective audition process. They reside or attend school throughout New England, and come together on Saturday afternoons for sectionals and full orchestra rehearsals at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, in Boston's South End.

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