Andris Nelsons leads Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Graham

Andris Nelsons leads Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Graham
Event on 2018-01-19 13:30:00
The outstanding American mezzo Susan Graham joins Andris Nelsons, the BSO, and the women of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for Mahler's Third Symphony, which, along with his Symphony No. 2, exemplifies the composer's ambitious expansion of the symphonic genre. This is the second of Mahler's trio of "Wunderhorn" symphonies (Nos. 2-4) employing text from the folk-poetry collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn. The six-movement symphony is divided into two parts. Part I is a massive, 30-plus-minute opening movement representing a Bacchic procession celebrating the arrival of summer. Part II (movements 2 through 6) is a series of character pieces representing the responses of, in turn, wild flowers, animals of the forest, mankind itself, angels, and the spirit of love. View biography in full page >

In 2017-18, his fourth season as the BSO's Ray and Maria Stata Music Director, Andris Nelsons leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in twelve wide-ranging subscription programs at Symphony Hall, repeating three of them at New York's Carnegie Hall in March. Also this season, in November, he and the orchestra tour Japan together for the first time, playing concerts in Nagoya, Osaka, Kawasaki, and Tokyo. In addition, in February 2018 Maestro Nelsons becomes Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, in which capacity he will bring both orchestras together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance; under his direction, the BSO celebrates its first "Leipzig Week in Boston" that same month. In the summer of 2015, following his first season as music director, Andris Nelsons' contract with the Boston Symphony Orchestra was extended through the 2021-22 season. Following the 2015 Tanglewood season, he and the BSO undertook a twelve-concert, eight-city tour to major European capitals as well as the Lucerne, Salzburg, and Grafenegg festivals. A second European tour, to eight cities in Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg, took place in May 2016.

The fifteenth music director in the history of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons made his BSO debut at Carnegie Hall in March 2011, his Tanglewood debut in July 2012, and his BSO subscription series debut in January 2013. His first CD with the BSO-live recordings of Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture and Sibelius's Symphony No. 2-was released in November 2014 on BSO Classics. April 2017 brought the release on BSO Classics of the four Brahms symphonies with Maestro Nelsons conducting, recorded live at Symphony Hall in November 2016. In an ongoing, multi-year collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon initiated in 2014-15, he and the BSO are making live recordings of Shostakovich's complete symphonies, the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and other works by the composer. The first release in this series (the Symphony No. 10 and the Passacaglia from Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk) won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance and Gramophone Magazine's Orchestral Award. The second release (symphonies 5, 8, and 9, plus excerpts from Shostakovich's 1932 incidental music to Hamlet) won the 2017 Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance. Also for Deutsche Grammophon, Andris Nelsons is recording the Bruckner symphonies with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Beethoven symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic.

In 2017-18, Andris Nelsons is artist-in-residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund and continues his regular collaboration with the Vienna Philharmonic, leading that orchestra on tour to China. He also maintains regular collaborations with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Maestro Nelsons has also been a regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he conducts a new David Alden production of Lohengrin this season.

Born in Riga in 1978 into a family of musicians, Andris Nelsons began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying conducting. He was music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2015, principal conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany, from 2006 to 2009, and music director of Latvian National Opera from 2003 to 2007. Mr. Nelsons is the subject of a 2013 DVD from Orfeo, a documentary film entitled "Andris Nelsons: Genius on Fire." View biography in full page >

Susan Graham – hailed as "an artist to treasure" by the New York Times  – rose to the highest echelon of international performers within just a few years of her professional debut, mastering an astonishing range of repertoire and genres along the way. Her operatic roles span four centuries, from Monteverdi's Poppea to Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, which was written especially for her. She won a Grammy Award for her collection of Ives songs, and her recital repertoire is so broad that 14 composers from Purcell to Sondheim are represented on her most recent Onyx album, Virgins, Vixens & Viragos. This distinctly American artist has also been recognized throughout her career as one of the foremost exponents of French vocal music. Although a native of Texas, she was awarded the French government's prestigious "Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur," both for her popularity as a performer in France and in honor of her commitment to French music.

To launch the 2017-18 season, Ms. Graham will reprise her star turn in the title role of Susan Stroman's production of Lehár's The Merry Widow at the MET, then she joins Nathan Gunn for Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti at Lyric Opera of Chicago, in a special concert to mark the composer's 100th birthday. To conclude the operatic season, she returns to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opposite James Morris in Marc Blitzstein's 1948 opera Regina. At the Boston Symphony, she joins Charles Dutoit for Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust and Andris Nelsons for Mahler's Third Symphony, which is also the vehicle for her summer collaborations at the Tanglewood Festival and later on tour in Europe. Besides reuniting with Dutoit for Ravel's Shéhérazade at the San Francisco Symphony, she headlines a gala concert to celebrate Tulsa Opera's 70th anniversary. She also gives solo recitals at Emory University and Washington University, and rounds out the season with a night of cabaret at the Park Avenue Armory in New York.

Last season, Graham partnered with Renée Fleming for the San Francisco Symphony's opening-night gala, and joined Anna Netrebko, Plácido Domingo, and a host of other stars to celebrate the Metropolitan Opera's five decades at Lincoln Center. Having created the role of Sister Helen Prejean in the world premiere production of Dead Man Walking  at San Francisco Opera, she reprised her role in Washington National Opera's revival of the piece. She returned to Santa Fe Opera as Prince Orlofsky in a new production of Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus, and reprised her signature portrayal of Dido in Berlioz's Les Troyens at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Concert highlights included selections from Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhornat Carnegie Hall and Canteloube's Chants d'Auvergne with the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as a star-studded Der Rosenkavalier at the Boston Symphony. She gave U.S. recitals of "Frauenliebe und -leben Variations," her program inspired by the Schumann song cycle, and expanded her discography with Nonesuch Records' DVD/Blu-ray release of William Kentridge's new treatment of Berg's Lulu, which captured her role debut as Countess Geschwitz at the Met.

Graham's earliest operatic successes were in such trouser roles as Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Her technical expertise soon brought mastery of Mozart's more virtuosic roles, like Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, Idamante in Idomeneo and Cecilio in Lucio Silla, as well as the title roles of Handel's Ariodante and Xerxes. She went on to triumph in two iconic Richard Strauss mezzo roles, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier and the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos. These brought her to prominence on all the world's major opera stages, including the Met, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Covent Garden, Paris Opera, La Scala, Bavarian State Opera, Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival, among many others. She performed the leading ladies in the MET world premieres of John Harbison's The Great Gatsby  and Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy, and made her Dallas Opera debut as Tina in a new production of The Aspern Papers by Dominick Argento. As Houston Grand Opera's Lynn Wyatt Great Artist, she starred as Prince Orlofsky in the company's first staging of Die Fledermaus in 30 years, before heading an all-star cast as Sycorax in the Met's Baroque pastiche The Enchanted Island  and making her rapturously received musical theater debut in a new production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

It was in an early Lyon production of Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict that Graham scored particular raves from the international press, and a triumph in the title role of Massenet's Chérubin  at Covent Garden sealed her operatic stardom. Further invitations to collaborate on French music were forthcoming from many preeminent conductors, including Sir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, James Levine and Seiji Ozawa. New productions of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride, Berlioz's La damnation de Faust  and Massenet's Werther  were mounted for the mezzo in New York, London, Paris, Chicago, San Francisco and beyond. She recently made title role debuts in Offenbach's comic masterpieces La belle Hélène and The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein at Santa Fe Opera, as well as proving herself the standout star of the Met's star-studded revival of Les Troyens, which was broadcast live to cinema audiences worldwide in the company's celebrated "Live in HD" series. Graham's affinity for French repertoire has not been limited to the opera stage, having also served as the foundation for her extensive concert and recital career. Such great cantatas and symphonic song cycles as Berlioz's La mort de Cléopâtreand Les nuits d'été, Ravel's Shéhérazade and Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer  provide opportunities for collaborations with the world's leading orchestras, and she makes regular appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Orchestre de Paris and London Symphony Orchestra.

Graham's distinguished discography features all the works described above, as well as a series of lauded solo albums, including Un frisson français, a program of French song recorded with pianist Malcolm Martineau for Onyx; C'est ça la vie, c'est ça l'amour!, an album of 20th-century operetta rarities on Erato; and La Belle Époque, an award-winning collection of songs by Reynaldo Hahn with pianist Roger Vignoles, from Sony Classical. Among the mezzo's numerous honors are Musical America's Vocalist of the Year and an Opera News Award; Gramophone magazine has dubbed her "America's favorite mezzo." View biography in full page >

Tanglewood Festival Chorus
James Burton, BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
John Oliver, Founder and Conductor Laureate

This season at Symphony Hall, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus joins the Boston Symphony Orchestra for performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 3 (January 18-20) and Schumann's Nachtlied and Neujahrslied (February 8-10) under BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons; Grieg's incidental music to Peer Gynt under BSO Associate Conductor Ken-David Masur (October 19-24); Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust (October 26-28) and Ravel's complete Daphnis et Chloé (February 15-17) under Charles Dutoit, and Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 3, Kaddish, under Giancarlo Guerrero (March 15-17). Members of the chorus also participated in this season's all-Bernstein program on Opening Night. Originally formed under the joint sponsorship of Boston University and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus was established in 1970 by its founding conductor John Oliver, who stepped down from his leadership position with the TFC at the end of the 2014 Tanglewood season. Awarded the Tanglewood Medal by the BSO to honor his forty-five years of service to the ensemble, Mr. Oliver now holds the lifetime title of Founder and Conductor Laureate and occupies the Donald and Laurie Peck Master Teacher Chair at the Tanglewood Music Center. In February 2017, having prepared the chorus for that month's BSO performances of Bach's B minor Mass led by Andris Nelsons, the British-born James Burton was named the new Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also being appointed to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director.

Though first established for performances at the BSO's summer home, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus was soon playing a major role in the BSO's subscription season as well as BSO concerts at Carnegie Hall. Now numbering more than 300 members, the ensemble performs year-round with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops. It has performed with Seiji Ozawa and the BSO in Hong Kong and Japan, and with the BSO in Europe under James Levine and Bernard Haitink, also giving a cappella  concerts of its own on the two latter occasions. The TFC made its debut in April 1970, in a BSO performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Leonard Bernstein conducting. Its first recording with the orchestra, Berlioz's La Damnation of Faust  with Seiji Ozawa, received a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance of 1975. The TFC has since made dozens of recordings with the BSO and Boston Pops, with James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis, Leonard Bernstein, Keith Lockhart, and John Williams. In August 2011, with John Oliver conducting and soloist Stephanie Blythe, the TFC gave the world premiere of Alan Smith's An Unknown Sphere  for mezzo-soprano and chorus, commissioned by the BSO for the ensemble's 40th anniversary. Its most recent recordings on BSO Classics, all drawn from live performances, include a disc of a cappella  music led by John Oliver and released to mark the TFC's 40th anniversary; and, with James Levine conducting, Ravel's complete Daphnis and Chlo?? (a 2009 Grammy-winner for Best Orchestral Performance), Brahms's German Requiem, and William Bolcom's Eighth Symphony for chorus and orchestra (a BSO 125th Anniversary Commission). Besides their work with the BSO, TFC members have performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic; participated in a Saito Kinen Festival production of Britten's Peter Grimes  under Seiji Ozawa in Japan, and sang Verdi's Requiem with Charles Dutoit to help close a month-long International Choral Festival given in and around Toronto. The ensemble had the honor of singing at Sen. Edward Kennedy's funeral; has performed with the Boston Pops for the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics; and can be heard on the soundtracks of Clint Eastwood's Mystic River, John Sayles's Silver City, and Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. TFC members regularly commute from the greater Boston area, western Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, and TFC alumni frequently return each summer from as far away as Florida and California to sing with the chorus at Tanglewood. Throughout its history, the TFC has established itself as a favorite of conductors, soloists, critics, and audiences alike. View biography in full page >

James Burton was appointed Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and to the new position of BSO Choral Director, in February 2017. Born in London, Mr. Burton began his training at the Choir of Westminster Abbey, where he became head chorister. He was a choral scholar at St. John's College, Cambridge, and holds a master's degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier. He has conducted concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hallé, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata; in early 2016 he made his debut with the Orquestra Sinfònica Nacional with concerts in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Opera credits include Don Giovanni and La bohème at English National Opera, Così fan tutte at English Touring Opera, The Magic Flute at Garsington, and Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica at the Prague Summer Nights Festival. He has served on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra de Paris, English National Opera, Opera Rara, and Garsington Opera, where he was honored with the Leonard Ingrams Award in 2008. He has also conducted in London's West End and led a UK tour of Bernstein's Wonderful Town in 2012. His extensive choral conducting has included guest invitations with professional choirs including the Gabrieli Consort, the Choir of the Enlightenment, Wroc?aw Philharmonic, and the BBC Singers, with whom he performed at the Dubai Opera house in its inaugural season earlier this year. From 2002 to 2009 he served as choral director at the Hallé Orchestra, where he was music director of the Hallé Choir and founding conductor of the Hallé Youth Choir, winning the Gramophone Choral Award in 2009. He returned to Manchester in 2014, preparing the choirs for a Grammy-nominated recording under Sir Mark Elder of Vaughan Williams's Sea Symphony. From 2002 to 2017 he was music director of the chamber choir Schola Cantorum of Oxford, touring all over the world and recording with Hyperion Records. He collaborates regularly with leading young musicians and in 2017 appeared as guest director of the National Youth Choir of Japan and the Princeton University Glee Club, as well as the Genesis Sixteen. He teaches conducting, and has given master classes at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music. In 2011 he founded a conducting scholarship with Schola Cantorum of Oxford. His compositions and arrangements have been performed internationally, and his orchestral arrangements for Arlo Guthrie have been performed by the Boston Pops, by many other leading U.S. orchestras, and at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. His commissions have included the music for the 2010 World Equestrian Games opening ceremony, a setting for chorus and orchestra of Thomas Hardy's The Convergence of the Twain commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, and a recent Christmas carol premiered by the Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge, live on BBC Radio 3. His choral works are published by Edition Peters. As BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, James Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair, endowed in perpetuity.

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