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Boston Symphony Names New Concertmaster, Nathan Cole

Nathan Cole wears a black suit and holds his violin, standing in front of a teal background.
Todd Rosenberg
Nathan Cole

Violinist Nathan Cole will become the Boston Symphony's 11th concertmaster at the start of the Tanglewood season in July 2024.

Succeeding Malcolm Lowe, who retired in 2019 after 35 years as the BSO's concertmaster, Cole will be the fourth violinist to hold this prestigious position in the last 104 years.

As First Associate Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2011, Cole was regularly featured as a soloist at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. Prior to this position, he was a member of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony. He has appeared as guest concertmaster with the orchestras of Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Houston, Ottawa, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon.

As part of an audition process starting last January, the Boston Symphony welcomed a succession of highly accomplished guest concertmasters, including Cole, who led the orchestra in Boston and at Carnegie Hall in performances of Shostakovich's monumental 1934 opera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

"The BSO and I are very happy to warmly welcome Nathan Cole as the next concertmaster of our great orchestra," Music Director Andris Nelsons said in a statement. "We had immense pleasure collaborating with Nathan last January on Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and we look forward to embracing his leadership with the orchestra, exploring our joint musical values, and partnering on our artistic journey together to serve the great music both within and beyond our Boston community."

Cole will make his first appearances this summer at Tanglewood, where he will be featured prominently in Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. His first full season with the BSO will include two performances at Carnegie Hall in April 2025, at the Shostakovich Festival in Leipzig, and in three other soon-to-be-announced European cities where the BSO will tour in May 2025.

In addition to leading the BSO's violin section, Cole will also be artistic director of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. Comprised of principal players from the BSO, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players will perform at Tanglewood with pianist Paul Lewis on July 24, 2024, and at five concerts scheduled in Boston next season.

In a statement, Cole said,

"This opportunity to be the BSO's next concertmaster feels like something that I've been waiting for my whole life. When I auditioned with the BSO back in January, for me it was an immediate, warm feeling both from my colleagues in the orchestra and Andris on the podium. I loved the way that Andris spoke in terms of imagery and was really clear about the sound that he wanted. I felt that he left it to us and our creativity to decide how to get those sounds, but at the same time, he was very specific and persistent about what he wanted, and I loved that. I also felt great support from the orchestra, especially from my fellow violins.

Looking back, I feel fortunate to have known two people who held the position before me, Malcolm Lowe and Joseph Silverstein. Silverstein was one of my idols, and I grew up with many of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players recordings. Any time that I had to learn a piece, BSCP would have a recording of it with Silverstein leading, so I had his sound in my ear early on and was lucky to get to work with him before he passed away. He was extremely generous with his time and wisdom. He took himself seriously enough to continue working on his craft all the way through the end of his life. But I always got the sense that he knew he was a custodian of the position, and that everything he did was for his colleagues and for the music, and that's something that I want to carry forward.

Meanwhile, I'm thrilled to be starting my tenure this summer at Tanglewood. It will be my first time playing there. My wife Akiko and I and all three of our kids are super excited about the move to New England!"