Today's Classical Music Video

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Andris Nelsons Gets Boston

The long wait is finally over. The Boston Symphony has a new music director: 34-year old Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons. He succeeds James Levine who resigned several years ago after a series of illnesses that made it impossible for him to continue. Coincidentally, Levine mad a long-awaited return to the podium last week conducting the MET Orchestra.

Nelsons is one of the hottest conductors around these days with every major orchestra vying for his services. Nelsons has already conducted the Boston Symphony and the players found him to be absolutely what they were looking for: a fine musician with a rare gift for galvanizing an orchestra. The music director of the Boston Symphony also has a special responsibility for the orchestra's summer home in Tanglewood. He must not only lead BSO concerts there but also oversee the educational activities of the Tanglewood Music Center program. Nelsons conducted the student orchestra at Tanglewood last summer and will return this summer to lead a performance of the Verdi Requiem with the BSO on July 17. His wife Kristine Opolais will be the soprano soloist.

Nelsons was principal conductor of the Latvian National Opera early in his career, and in 2009 he conducted Turandot at the Met. He has conducted Lohengrin at Bayreuth and returns to Bayreuth in 2016 for Parsifal.

Andris Nelsons is a frequent guest conductor with the Berlin Philharmonic and in our video he leads an excerpt from Strauss' Ein Heldenleben. From this video one can see that Nelsons often conducts with a smile on his face, and that he is very physical, in the Bernstein tradition.

Nelsons was a professional trumpet player and took conducting classes with Neeme Jarvi, Jorma Panula and Mariss Jansons.

At a time when the classical record business is in the doldrums Nelsons is featured on a very large number of recent CDs and DVDs. The afore-mentioned Met Turandot is available on DVD along with a La Boheme from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Most of his CDs have been made with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra he has headed since 2008. He recently extended his contract through 2015. With the CBSO he has recorded music of Strauss, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky.

For the 2013-2014 season Nelsons will be music director designate of the BSO, appearing for only two weeks of concerts. The following season he will officially settle in as music director and conduct 8-10 weeks and probably some tours. For more on Andris Nelsons visit his website at The site includes video excerpts from many of his recent concerts, and from a documentary about his work in Birmingham.

Paul E. Robinson

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