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The Boston Symphony Orchestra's 2019-2020 Season

clockwise from upper left: conductor Susanna Mälkki, Artistic Partner Thomas Adès, soprano Nicole Cabell, Music Director Andris Nelsons, pianist Yuja Wang, tenor Jonas Kaufmann
Stefan Bremer; Brian Voce; Columbia Artists Management; Marco Borggreve; Julia WeselyGregor Hohenberg
clockwise from upper left: conductor Susanna Mälkki, Artistic Partner Thomas Adès, soprano Nicole Cabell, Music Director Andris Nelsons, pianist Yuja Wang, tenor Jonas Kaufmann";

The BSO has announced the schedule for its 139th season, the sixth with Music Director Andris Nelsons.

Hear a preview of the season with BSO Artistic Administrator Tony Fogg:

The season is marked by 15 programs led by Andris Nelsons, seven world and American premieres, and a continuation of the orchestra's historic Shostakovich recording series.

The opening program (Sep. 19-21) brings together two works by Francis Poulenc, including the Concerto for Two Pianos, with soloists Lucas and Arthur Jussen, and the Gloria, featuring soprano Nicole Cabell and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. In between are Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy" and the world premiere of Eric Nathan's Concerto for Orchestra.

It's the third season of the historic alliance of the BSO and the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, both of which are led by Nelsons. And for 2019-2020, Leipzig Week in Boston brings the Gewandhaus Orchestra to Symphony Hall for a series of concerts on its own (Oct. 27 and 29) and with the BSO (Oct. 31-Nov. 2), which will feature Haydn's Sinfonia concertante with soloists from each orchestra, Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht, and Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy.

In the coming season, the BSO performs and records three rarely heard symphonies by Dmitri Shostakovich, continuing a series that has already won three Grammy Awards for Best Orchestral Performance. Nelsons conducts Shostakovich's Symphony No. 12, The Year 1917 (Nov. 7-12), Symphony No. 2, To October, featuring the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (Nov. 21-26), and the Chamber Symphony, Rudolf Barshai's arrangement of the composer's String Quartet No. 8 (Jan. 23-28).

Every BSO season includes several new works, but 2019-2020 is exceptionally rich. BSO commissions or co-commissions include world premieres of

  • the Concerto for Orchestra by Eric Nathan (Sep. 19-21),
  • Betsy Jolas's Letters from Bachville (Nov. 7-12),
  • "My River runs to thee..." (Homage to Emily Dickinson) by Arturs Maskats (Nov. 21-26),
  • a new work by Chihchun Chi-sun Lee (Jan. 16-21), and 
  • a new work for the Boston Symphony Chamber Players by Michael Gandolfi (Apr. 26).

BSO commissions or co-commissions receiving American premeires include a new work by Dieter Ammann (Oct. 24-26) and HK Gruber's Short Stories from the Vienna Woods (Apr. 2-4). The BSO also performs Limina, by Helen Grime (Feb. 27-Mar. 3), which receives its world premiere at Tanglewood this summer.

Tenor Jonas Kaufmann returns to Symphony Hall to sing the role of Tristan in Act III of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (Apr. 9, 11), with soprano Emily Magee as Isolde, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung as Brangäne, baritone Kostas Smoriginas as Kurwenal, and bass Gunther Groissböck as Marke.

BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès leads a series of concerts (Mar. 26-28) that includes his own Lieux retrouvés, with cellist Steven Isserlis, and Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite and Perséphone, with tenor Edgaras Montvidas, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and the Boston Symphony Children's Choir.

Jazz and classical pianist and composer Uri Caine brings his eponymous Trio to Boston for a program (Mar. 19-21) led by André Raphel that includes Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Petite Suite de Concert, William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1, Afro-American, and Caine's own The Passion of Octavius Catto, an oratorio that celebrates the life of the 19th century civil rights hero, with vocalist Barbara Walker and a gospel chorus formed especially for the occasion.

Among many other guest conductors are Susanna Mälkki (Oct. 24-26), who leads a program of works by Fauré, Ammann, Messiaen, and Debussy; Alain Altinoglu (Jan. 9-14) in music by Debussy, Poulenc, and Saint-Saëns; Giancarlo Guerrero (Feb. 27-Mar. 3) leading works by Grime, Walton, and Duruflé; Hannu Lintu (Mar. 5-7) in music by Thorvaldsdottir, Prokofiev, and Sibelius; and Christoph von Dohnányi (Apr. 30-May 2) conducting Haydn, Ligeti, and Tchaikovsky.

Guest soloists include, among others, violinists Augustin Hadelich (Sep. 26-Oct. 1), Daniel Lozakovich (Nov. 21-26), Pinchas Zukerman (also conducting, Feb. 21-25), and Midori (Apr. 23-28); and pianists Yuja Wang (Oct. 3-5), Sir András Schiff (also conducting, Oct. 17-19), Leif Ove Andsnes (Nov. 14-16), Till Fellner (Jan. 16-21), and Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Apr. 2-4).

Three BSO musicians will be featured soloists as well, including Principal Cellist Blaise Déjardin (Apr. 17-18), and Principal Flutist Elizabeth Rowe and Principal Oboist John Ferrillo (Apr. 30-May 2).

For complete information, visit the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Brian McCreath is the Director of Production for CRB.