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Dynamic New BSO NOW Streams Announced For March And April

BSO brings its first-ever all-online season to its new streaming platform BSO NOW.

Dynamic New BSO NOW Streams Announced For March And April

The Boston Symphony Orchestra brings its first-ever all-online season-with near weekly concert streams distributed through its new streaming platform BSO NOW, November 2020-April 2021-to an end with four programs led by BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons, released each Thursday at noon, March 25-April 29, at www.bso.org/now.

Additional BSO NOW concert streams in March and April will include special guest appearances by conductors Giancarlo Guerrero and David Robertson; the first-ever BSO Youth Concert and BSO Family Concert streams, featuring Thomas Wilkins; and three BSO archival streams of iconic performances led by conductors Seiji Ozawa, William Steinberg, and Colin Davis. Most BSO NOW concert streams are available for on-demand viewing for 30 days past their original launch dates through www.bso.org/now.

The BSO NOW concert streaming platform launched in November and was created in response to the live performance hiatus in place since March 2020, due to the restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic.

For its fourth series of this season's "Music in Changing Times" theme, the Boston Symphony Orchestra performs music from the unsettled but vibrant period between the first and second world wars. Each of the three programs focuses on a particular region, but with American connections. In a German-centered program, Giancarlo Guerrero (right) leads the BSO in Kurt Weill's Suite from The Threepenny Opera, the composer's celebrated satirical collaboration with Bertolt Brecht about the struggles of London's criminal class. More abstract is Paul Hindemith's Concert Piece for Winds and Brass, which was commissioned for the BSO's 50th anniversary. Both composers came to the U.S. prior to World War II. Like Weill's piece, American composer Florence Price's Five Folksongs in Counterpoint treats popular music idioms in sophisticated, individual ways.

David Robertson leads the BSO in Parisian music from the 1920s and early '30s. Ravel's Piano Concerto in G, one of his most beloved works, was also one of his last. The brilliant Israeli/American pianist Inon Barnatan (left) makes his Symphony Hall debut in this performance. Arthur Honegger's Pastorale d'été ("Summer Pastoral") is a perfectly lovely, brief symphonic poem, languid, calm music interrupted by a burst of dancing joy. Darius Milhaud's famed 1923 ballet score The Creation of the World is one of the earliest "classical" pieces to show the strong influence of jazz. The chamber music work on this program is a solo flute piece by Marion Bauer, who through her music and teaching influenced a generation of American composers. She herself was the first American student of the legendary Nadia Boulanger-who later taught American composers from Aaron Copland to Philip Glass.

Andris Nelsons leads music of Stravinsky and Shostakovich in the final program of this series. When he wrote Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Stravinsky had been away from his native Russia for a decade and was based primarily in Paris. Conceived originally as a memorial tribute to Claude Debussy, this austere, ritualistic work was premiered by future BSO Music Director Serge Koussevitzky in London in 1921. Dmitri Shostakovich was still a student at the Leningrad Conservatory when his bold, dynamic Symphony No. 1 was premiered in 1926, launching him into the forefront of Russian music. His little arrangement Tahiti Trot, from 1927, may come as a surprise to many: it's an arrangement of the American Broadway composer Vincent Youman's delightful "Tea for Two" from the show No, No, Nanette. Poem for viola and piano (1939) by the Latvian-born American composer Eda Rapoport closes the program.

Music Director Andris Nelsons brings the BSO's 2020-21 BSO NOW streaming season to a close with "Pathways of Romanticism," music from the heart of the Romantic era. For the first episode, Maestro Nelsons is joined by a frequent collaborator, Latvian violinist Baiba Skride (right), for Robert Schumann's Violin Concerto, his last major work. Schumann wrote this powerfully lyrical piece in a two-week sprint in September 1853 for the great violinist Joseph Joachim. Unperformed and unpublished, it was rediscovered among Joachim's papers in the 1930s, when it was championed by Yehudi Menuhin. Composed nearly contemporaneously with his intense and brooding D minor piano concerto, Brahms' warm and sunny Serenade No. 2 is virtually the concerto's expressive opposite, recalling Haydn and Mozart in its folk-music-tinged, nostalgic elegance. Our chamber music work is Cambridge-based composer Marti Epstein's nuanced trio Komorebi, a musical meditation on the Japanese term for light shining through tree leaves-and a contemporary composer's take on the Romantic age's love of imagery.

In the second episode of the final series, BSO members are center-stage in two Romantic concertos. BSO Principal Clarinet William Hudgins (left) is soloist in Carl Maria von Weber's brief Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra, which the BSO hasn't performed since 1884. (The Pops played it most recently in 1983). This virtuosic theme-and-variations piece straddles the Classical and Romantic eras: written in 1811, it's an early work in the catalog of the composer who virtually invented German Romantic opera. Four BSO horns perform Robert Schumann's his unusual Conzertstück, which was premiered in Leipzig in 1850 and which Schumann called "one of my best pieces." The soloists here are treated as a collective rather than four completely independent voices. The BSO's string sections are highlighted in the opening work, Felix Mendelssohn's String Symphony No. 10. Mendelssohn-whose childhood precocity rivaled Mozart's-wrote this assured, stormy piece over five days in May 1823 at age fourteen. Closing this episode is William Grant Still's Suite for violin and piano (1943), the three movements of which were each inspired by works by three great African American sculptors of the mid-20th century.

In the final program of our 2020-21 season, Andris Nelsons returns to a focus of his recent conducting activity: music by Richard Strauss. Strauss was only 18 when his Serenade for Winds, Op. 7, was premiered in Dresden. Its classical clarity is in stark contrast to the lush, almost cinematic orchestral Interludes from the composer's 1923 opera Intermezzo, composed forty years later. Based on an episode in Strauss' life, the plot of the libretto (written by the composer himself) revolves around a misunderstanding that drives the wife of a conductor to jealous extremes. Strauss called his opera a "bourgeois comedy with symphonic interludes," indicating the importance of the purely orchestral music of the four interludes, which respectively tell of the bustle and joy of travel, an introspective scene by the fireside, a card-playing scene, and a brief happy ending touching on many of the opera's main themes. The American composer Jennifer Higdon's 1995 colorful, energetic wind quintet Autumn Music, which was in part inspired by Samuel Barber's Summer Music.

Formal BSO titles for conductors referenced in this release: Andris Nelsons is the Ray and Maria Stata BSO Music Director and Thomas Wilkins is the BSO's Artistic Advisor, Education and Community Engagement, and Germeshausen Youth and Family Concerts Conductor. The director for the concert portions of the BSO NOW series is Habib Azar; click here for a recent biography.

BSO NOW-the BSO's expanded digital content series to be recorded at Symphony Hall and made available through bso.org/now beginning on November 19-is part of the BSO's continuing series of online offerings created in response to the live performance hiatus imposed by regulations around the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing health crisis (click here for further details about BSO NOW). In response to this hiatus from live performances, the BSO launched its expanded digital offerings on March 26, 2020 with BSO at Home and BSO HomeSchool, followed by Boston Pops at Home (all available at www.bso.org), the Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival (www.tanglewood.org), and Encore BSO Recitals (www.bso.org), available through November 19. The success of these programs, which have generated millions of interactions-both directly with the actual online content and indirectly through posts on the orchestra's social media channels about that content-has been an inspiration for the orchestra to continue to explore new ways of reaching its music community and beyond with new, innovative, and compelling programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of March 13, 2020, and continuing on through April 2021 and possibly beyond, the orchestra has been forced to cancel the remainder of its 2019-20 BSO Youth Concert Series and 2019-20 BSO season and the entire 2020 Boston Pops, 2020 Tanglewood, 2020 Holiday Pops, and 2020-21 BSO seasons. The series of announcements detailing the full slate of cancellations by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, beginning on March 13, can be found here.


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