Who would have thought that so much of Boston would be abuzz about the new music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra? The arrival of director (designate until September) Andris Nelsons at the BSO’s Tanglewood Music Center (TMC), the world’s leading summer classical musical festival, in Lenox, MA this past weekend has generated enough electricity to light up the musical world and beyond.
At 35 years old, the new maestro is not much older than the TMC fellows he is teaching. And he’s a lot younger than the members of the orchestra he is leading at Tanglewood and will be directing in Symphony Hall this fall. But young and old alike, as well as donors, patrons and all who hear him, are thrilled at his talent, warmth, intelligence, good humor, energy and even humility.
Boston’s print and electronic media are clearly taken with Nelsons. I have to believe that this is not just about the excellence of the BSO’s media guru Bernadette Horgan, though she is excellent. I really believe that the media, as much as music lovers, have caught on that this is a pivotal moment in the history of this great orchestra. The BSO community has been wandering in the desert since the early part of maestro James Levine’s short career here, a career that ended officially in 2011 but unofficially had been truncated for several previous years by his frequent illnesses and absence. Plus, as the maestro of the Metropolitan Opera, Levine’s heart never seemed to be in Boston.
As a longtime member of the BSO’s board of overseers and regular attendee at concerts, I have experienced this all with more than passing interest. And, while I may be influenced by that involvement, I rather think not. This is a naturally exciting time for classical music lovers. And it’s exciting for the city as well, as it hopes to return to the kind of civic engagement demonstrated by longtime Levine predecessor, maestro Seiji Osawa, who, in his 29-year career here, became a local sports fan and took classical music to the community in the form of free concerts to the Boston Common and to Franklin Park.
Look for the excitement to continue the last week of September when Nelsons opens the symphony season. If you want to be part of it, call Symphony Hall for tickets. There’s probably not much chance of post-season excitement for the Red Sox, so consider the BSO as a worthy substitute.
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