February 17, 2021
THIS WEEK: THE BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA’S ONLINE PERFORMANCE (WWW.BSO.ORG/NOW)
BSO NOW STREAMING PLATFORM PRESENTS THE SECOND OF THREE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED FEBRUARY PROGRAMS FEATURING BSO MUSIC DIRECTOR ANDRIS NELSONS—HIS FIRST APPEARANCES WITH THE BOSTON SYMPHONY SINCE JANUARY 2020, BEFORE THE ORCHESTRA WAS FORCED TO CANCEL THE REMAINDER OF ITS 2019-20 SEASON DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
NELSONS-LED CONCERT STREAMS CONTINUE WITH FOCUS ON BEETHOVEN—IN CELEBRATION OF THE 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE COMPOSER’S BIRTH, AT WWW.BSO.ORG/NOW; FEBRUARY 18 STREAM FEATURES ANDRIS NELSONS LEADING THE BSO IN BEETHOVEN’S SYMPHONY NO. 6, PASTORAL, AND CANADIAN-IRANIAN COMPOSER IMAN HABIBI’S JEDER BAUM SPRICHT
Click here to view an excerpt of BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons leading the BSO in the first movement of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony
EACH BSO NOW VIDEO LAUNCHES AT WWW.BSO.ORG/NOW ON SELECT THURSDAYS, AT NOON, ET, NOVEMBER 19 THROUGH APRIL 29; ALL BSO NOW ONLINE VIDEOS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING FOR 30 DAYS AFTER INITIAL RELEASE DATE
• 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
• Available for viewing through March 13: 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 Catherine French and Xin Ding, violins; Mary Ferrillo, viola; and Mickey Katz, cello
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.
BSO NOW STREAMS PREVIOUSLY RELEASED IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY, INCLUDING AN ARCHIVAL STREAM AND THREE BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA ONLINE PERFORMANCES, THEMED “NEW BEGINNINGS,” ARE STILL AVAILABLE AT WWW.BSO.ORG/NOW
• Available for viewing through February 20: 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 Symphony, 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
• Available for viewing through February 27: 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, including BSO musicians Elizabeth Klein, flute; Thomas Martin, clarinet; Thomas Siders, trumpet; and Valeria Vilker Kuchment, violin; with guest pianist Vytas Baksys
• Available for viewing through March 6: Originally recorded on April 26, 1975, Seiji Ozawa (BSO Music Director, 1973–2002) conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra and New England Conservatory Chorus in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) with soprano soloist Susan Davenny Wyner and contralto soloist Maureen Forrester
INFORMATION ON HOW TO ACCESS BSO NOW NEWLY RECORDED ONLINE VIDEO CONTENT TO BE DISTRIBUTED AT WWW.BSO.ORG/NOW, THURSDAYS AT NOON, THROUGH APRIL 29
• THE COMPLETE SERIES OF BSO NOW PROGRAMMING IS AVAILABLE IN RECOGNITION OF DONATIONS OF $100 OR MORE BY VISITING WWW.BSO.ORG/NOW
• DETAILS ABOUT THE ESSENTIAL WORKERS ACCESS PROGRAM AND COMPLIMENTARY ACCESS FOR BSO SUBSCRIBERS, COLLEGE CARD HOLDERS, CORPORATE PARTNERS, AND CURRENT BSO, POPS, AND TANGLEWOOD DONORS OF $100 OR MORE, AS WELL AS INFORMATION ABOUT A COMPLIMENTARY 24-HOUR TRIAL ACCESS PROGRAM FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC, ARE AVAILABLE THROUGH WWW.BSO.ORG/NOW
FURTHER INFORMATION: ANDRIS NELSONS, IN A HIGHLY ANTICIPATED RETURN TO THE BSO, LEADS THE ORCHESTRA IN THE SECOND OF THREE CONCERT STREAMS ENTITLED “THE SPIRIT OF BEETHOVEN”
This month, 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—leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a series of recordings to be released on the orchestra’s new streaming platform, BSO NOW. 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.
The stream scheduled for release on Thursday, February 18 at noon features perhaps the most nature-inspired and tranquil of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, the Pastoral. As with all BSO NOW episodes this month, Beethoven’s symphonies are juxtaposed with contemporary works that in some way confront and wrestle with the German composer’s iconic stature and restless innovation. BSO programmed Jeder baum spricht (Every Tree Speaks) by Iman Habibi to be heard directly following its performance of the Sixth Symphony, since a point in common between Habibi and Beethoven is a deep and abiding love of nature that is present in their works, and since the Sixth also evokes birdsong, famously, in the second movement. Iman Habibi was one of several composers commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra as part of its 2020 celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. Habibi’s piece celebrates nature, and is particularly inspired by the “fate” motif in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which is believed to be based on the song of the yellow hammer bird, common in Viennese parks. The work is also a direct response to Beethoven’s social activism and imagines Beethoven’s response to the climate crisis.
Closing this episode is Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp, featuring BSO musicians Cynthia Meyers, flute; Danny Kim, viola; and Jessica Zhou, harp.
These February BSO NOW concert streams also mark Mr. Nelsons’ first appearances with the orchestra 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.
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; 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.
CRB Classical 99.5 FM and www.classicalwcrb.org continue to feature encore Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts on Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. The program for Saturday, February 20 includes Bernard Haitink leading the BSO in Mahler’s colossal Symphony No. 1 (Titan), and Murray Perahia is the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. This performance originally took place on April 2, 2016.
On November 19, the Boston Symphony Orchestra launched BSO NOW, an expanded online presence with newly recorded hour-long video streams by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Andris Nelsons and guest conductors; the Boston Pops, under the direction of Keith Lockhart; and BSO musicians in chamber music, as well as BSO Youth and Family Concerts, under the direction of Thomas Wilkins, and special projects featuring the orchestra’s educational and community partnerships. Most BSO NOW video streams will also feature a magazine-type segment, with behind-the-scenes storytelling with conductors, composers, and musicians, plus much more. All BSO NOW newly recorded programs will be released on select Thursdays at noon through April 29, at www.bso.org/now, with each program remaining available for 30 days after its initial posting. The BSO, Pops, and youth-focused video performances will be recorded from the stage of Symphony Hall—widely considered one of the top three acoustic concert halls in the world—which will also be featured for all its beautiful detail and historic significance. Over the next few months, BSO NOW will also stream some selected performances from the BSO Archives, including concerts led by Seiji Ozawa, William Steinberg, and Colin Davis.
Additional BSO NOW programming details, March-April, will be announced at a later date in order for the BSO to respond effectively to any changes in restrictions that might be implemented around official COVID-19 protocols. Previously released BSO NOW streams, no longer available include Ken-David Masur leading the BSO in Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 and Ives’ The Unanswered Question; Thomas Wilkins conducting the BSO in works by Jessie Montgomery, Ellington, and Still; Marcelo Lehninger leading the orchestra in works by Copland, Barber, and Joan Tower; and Keith Lockhart leading a Holiday Pops concert stream.
INFORMATION ABOUT ONLINE PROGRAMMING CREATED IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 CONCERT CANCELLATIONS
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. In response to this hiatus from live performances, the BSO launched its expanded digital offerings on March 26 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.
Working with 9 Foundations, Inc., the BSO’s reopening strategy for its BSO NOW online recording schedule at Symphony Hall will include a robust testing schedule, two layers of daily screening, social distancing, universal masking, engineering controls, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols. (Click here for additional details.) In addition, BSO musicians will sit on a 35.5 foot stage extension—more than doubling the size of the stage—especially built to accommodate official social distancing requirements between orchestra members.
With the health and safety of everyone involved the highest priority, the BSO will continually monitor updates from the Centers for Disease Control, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the City of Boston, as well as its own team of experts, to determine when it can gradually start inviting audiences bad to Symphony Hall and its other venues. The timing of this process will not be known for at least several months. All official Boston Symphony Orchestra updates will be announced through press releases and postings on www.bso.org.
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