New BSO music director details plans for Tanglewood, beyond


The Boston Symphony's incoming music director, Andris Nelsons, has confirmed a major commitment to the orchestra's summer home in Lenox and Stockbridge, announcing his three-week residency in 2015 and a high-profile celebration of the Tanglewood Music Center student academy's 75th anniversary.

During a media event at Symphony Hall in Boston on Wednesday, streamed live on the orchestra's website, the Latvian maestro, 35, outlined his future plans in detail. He exuded exuberance, charm and modesty while displaying flashes of humor before a crowd of journalists, orchestra members, trustees, overseers, administrators, staff and three American composers.

He will work with the orchestra for eight weeks during the 2014-15 season in Boston, his first as music director.

As previously announced, Nelsons -- currently the music director designate -- will spend two weeks at Tanglewood this summer, conducting four concerts over two mid-July weekends in Slavic, French, Germany and American repertoire, including a gala performance with the BSO and the TMC orchestras.

Offering a glimpse of his 2015 summer plans, Nelsons said he will lead the combined BSO and TMC orchestras, eight vocal soloists and Tanglewood Festival Chorus in Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 8, one of the most massively scaled concert works in the repertoire.

The event will celebrate the 1940 opening of the summer institute, then known as the Berkshire Music Center, fulfilling an educational mission close to the heart of Tanglewood's founder, BSO Music Director Serge Koussevitzky.

"It's a very important thing, Tanglewood," he declared. But, aside from the TMC anniversary concert, "I cannot announce the 2015 programs because Mark will not approve of it, probably," a reference to BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe, who joined the audience's appreciative laughter.

"The perfect combination of making music with a conductor and orchestra is trust, and I immediately felt that extraordinary feeling of trust," Nelsons said about his work with the BSO so far. "I was very surprised and very thankful that I felt there was trust even in such a young guy as me, so we had great chemistry, giving and taking."

As he put it, "If you don't have trust from the orchestra's side to the conductor, or opposite, it can't work. I felt this kind of family, human warmth and such a great quality with the BSO. It is a love, if I may say, from my side to the orchestra."

"It's like driving a Ferrari," the designated music director quipped, quickly adding, "I don't drive. So, I hope you made the right decision."

Nelsons also unveiled plans for an extensive BSO tour of European summer festivals in late August and September 2015, including appearances at the Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals, as well as performances in London, Paris, Berlin and Cologne, Germany.

"I'm very excited about that," he said.

Nelsons noted that the tour has aroused "great expectations ... this is a very big part of my ambitions as well as the orchestra's. It also develops the chemistry, the music-making and the family feeling between the conductor and the orchestra musicians."

"You grow together, it develops the orchestra technically, musically and humanly," he added. "And then we go back and we have extra energy, the audience can say, ‘Yes they've improved,' or ‘There's some new color.' So, this is a very important ambition for us."

He listed hopes for future tours of the Far East, North American and South American cities -- "even Australia, it would be nice to go" -- leading Volpe to joke, "is there anywhere we're not going?"

On behalf of the orchestra, Principal Horn James Sommerville observed that the players' "energy and passion needs a focus, and what we need is someone with as much energy, passion, charisma and talent to take the BSO to all the places it can be. I'm very sure we found that person in Andris Nelsons."

"This is a really important moment for us," Sommerville said. "We've had a lot of complicated times between music directors over the past 10 years, and I know that we're extremely excited to get our noses to the grindstone together, play this wonderful music, travel together and record together."

Volpe explained that the orchestra has had "fruitful discussions with potential media partners," with details on possible audio and visual projects to be announced when a deal is sealed.

"Andris speaks a lot about friendship and family," Sommerville said, "and I know that his warmth and personal nature are things that immediately drew all of us to him when he first appeared on the podium. Of course, his impeccable musicianship is the most important factor."

He also saluted three American composers on hand whose works will be performed in Boston next season -- John Harbison, Gunther Schuller and Michael Gandolfi.

Referring to a morning rehearsal of Richard Strauss's challenging score for the opera "Salome," Sommerville observed that "it was reassuring to see that whatever the complexity of the music, he could get us through everything, incredibly good-naturedly, very clearly and very musically, and get us out the door on time. These are things that are underestimated among music directors, but very much appreciated by the players."

"Especially, out the door," Volpe chimed in.

To contact Clarence Fanto:

or (413) 637-2551.

On Twitter: @BE_cfanto

On the Web ...

Archived video of the media event spotlighting incoming Music Director Andris Nelsons: center

Details on this summer's Tanglewood season:

Description of the BSO's 2014-15 season:


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