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Joining Forces: the BSO and the Gewandhaus Orchestra

Symphony Hall, Boston, and Leipzig Gewandhaus
Stu Rosner (Symphony Hall), Jens Gerber (Gewandhaus)
Symphony Hall, Boston (left), and Leipzig Gewandhaus (right)

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has announced new details about its alliance with the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, beginning in the 2017-2018 season.

Informally launched last year when the BSO performed at the Gewandhaus concert hall during a European tour, the five-year agreement between two of the world’s major orchestras includes themed weeks that highlight each city’s musical heritage. “Leipzig Week in Boston” will feature music from that historically rich center of European music, and “Boston Week in Leipzig” will offer German audiences the repertoire for which the BSO is most well-known.

Hear BSO Artistic Administrator Tony Fogg describe the details:

The first “Leipzig Week in Boston,” with performances on February 8, 9, and 10, 2018, will feature Bach's Concerto in D minor for Three Keyboards, with Thomas Adès, Kirill Gerstein, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloists, followed by Schumann's Nachtlied, Op. 108, and Neujahrslied, Op. 144. The second half of the program will open with a new piece by Sean Shepherd, the first of several planned co-commissions for the two orchestras. The program then closes with Symphony No. 3, the “Scottish,” by Mendelssohn, who was the Music Director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra between 1835 and 1847. In addition, on February 11, the Gewandhaus Quartet will join musicians of the BSO for a program that will include Mendelssohn's brilliant Octet for strings. 

In June of 2018, the first “Boston Week in Leipzig” will feature music closely associated with the BSO’s legacy. The program includes Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, which was commissioned by the BSO for its 50th anniversary. Also on the program are Copland's Old American Songs with baritone Thomas Hampson, Elliott Carter's Clarinet Concerto, with composer/clarinetist Jörg Widmann as soloist, and Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.

For the second “Leipzig Week in Boston,” in November 2018, Andris Nelsons will conduct Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Concurrent exhibitions and panel discussions will highlight the centrality of Leipzig in Bach’s work as well as the history of Bach performance traditions.

The second “Boston Week in Leipzig,” in August and September of 2018, will celebrate the BSO’s summer home of Tanglewood, as well as the centenary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, with the Three Meditations from Bernstein’s Mass, with cello soloist Yo-Yo Ma. In addition, the Gewandhaus Orchestra will perform Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, which was commissioned by BSO Music Director Serge Koussevitzky and premiered by the orchestra in 1944.

Each orchestra is also scheduled to appear in its counterpart’s city on tour as part of the alliance, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra visiting Leipzig in September 2018 and the Gewandhaus Orchestra visiting Boston in October 2019.

Andris Nelsons, the Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, will take the equivalent position with the Gewandhaus Orchestra in February 2018, fulfilling both positions simultaneously. In addition, Christoph Wolff, Adams University Professor at Harvard University, former Director of the Bach Archive in Leipzig (2001-13), is an artistic advisor to the alliance, offering his insight to create programs, exhibits, and events that will illuminate the many historical ties between these two orchestras.

For more information, visit the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Brian McCreath is the Director of Production for CRB.