Young Latvian conductor wows Boston

Andris Nelsons, wunderkind Latvian conductor, led his first concert as the new music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) Saturday, delighting local classical music lovers who have waited almost four years for the vacancy to be filled.

The concert was simulcast live as part of the Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) Great Performances series on Boston’s National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate WCRB, allowing Nelsons’ followers in Europe to hear his debut too via webcast.

Saturday’s concert featured Nelsons’ wife, Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais and tenor Jonas Kaufmann performing an assortment of opera pieces.

The 35-year old Nelsons is the fifteenth, and one of the youngest conductors to take up the Boston orchestra leader’s job in over a hundred years. He is also the second conductor in the BSO’s history “to come of age under the cultural influence of Russia,” reported the Boston Globe Monday.

Nelsons is one of the world's most requested young conductors, who has proven himself in both opera and symphony concert genres. From 2003 to 2007 he served as the chief conductor at the Latvian National Opera (LNO). In 2008 he moved to Birmingham, England to be its symphony orchestra's music director while simultaneously juggling leadership of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Germany between 2007 and 2009.

The Boston Globe, after its mostly glowing review, described the new BSO music director in extremely hopeful tones:

"His most important gift at this point may be his ability to serve as a catalyst, to inspire freshly energetic playing from an orchestra, and to convey a sense that a performance is not another event on a high-culture assembly line but rather an act of spontaneous creation capable of delivering the jolt of the real.

Nelsons’s youth, his immersive podium style, and his fundamental openness will help the orchestra reach new audiences. Yet for this new era to reach its full potential, he will also need to add to this mix a boldness of artistic and institutional vision commensurate with his willingness to take risks onstage."

Meanwhile, Boston Classical Review ended its critique of the performance with the following quote:

"OK, now you can cheer.  It’s a new era at the Boston Symphony Orchestra."

 

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