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2017-2018 at the Boston Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons conducting the BSO
Marco Borggreve
Andris Nelsons conducting the BSO

The BSO’s coming season is defined by a celebration of Leonard Bernstein, fascinating additions to the orchestra’s Shostakovich cycle, and the addition of an Artist-in-Residence.


It’s rare that a concert season announcement from the Boston Symphony Orchestra is dominated by a single story. While that was the case a few years ago, with the arrival of Andris Nelsons as Music Director, now, as Nelsons enters his fourth season in that role, the projects the orchestra undertakes are more diverse, more involved, and … more exciting.


BSO Artistic Administrator Tony Fogg talks with WCRB's Brian McCreath about the 2017-2018 season:




Here are the major stories that emerge from the BSO’s announcement of its 2017-2018 season:


The Bernstein Centennial

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein in Lawrence, Mass., and the BSO will, throughout that calendar year, play a major role in commemorating the centennial. But the celebration begins with a Gala Opening Night at in September, when Andris Nelsons leads a program that includes the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.


Then things get serious… In March, two weeks of concerts feature Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3, “Kaddish,” and Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety.” Accompanied by a series of film screenings called "Insights," panel discussions, and an archival exhibit, it’s the first chapter in a year-long Bernstein deep-dive.


Shostakovich Symphonies

As they say, nothing breeds success like success. After two consecutive Grammy Awards for Best Orchestral Performance, the expanded Shostakovich symphony recording project on Deutsche Grammophon continues with the Symphonies Nos. 11, 14, and 4 (in September, February, and March, respectively). Already a fascinating series within the limited scope of its first chapters, the three symphonies scheduled for the coming season reveal a composer of intense patriotism, conscientiously powerful dissent, and an courageous creative voice.


The BSO’s First Ever Artist-in-Residence

Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet has developed a deep relationship with the orchestra over many years, and that relationship is formalized in the coming season with the Artist-in-Residence title. In that capacity, Thibaudet will be a soloist in some of the cornerstone projects of the season, including

  • Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, the "Age of Anxiety,"
  • Leipzig Week in Boston,
  • a Ravel celebration with conductor Charles Dutoit, and
  • a Boston Symphony Chamber Players concert.

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra Alliance and What It Means

With details announced earlier this spring, the linked ambitions of the BSO and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra can now be seen in context. What that means for us in the audience is that each week brings a new story and focus, going far beyond a routine conveyer belt of standard repertoire programs.

For example, in a four-week stretch beginning in January, BSO programs include

  • Artistic Partner Thomas Adès leading a program that includes his own music,
  • Shostakovich's radically unconventional Symphony No. 14,
  • Leipzig Week in Boston, and
  • a rich, mostly-Ravel program led by Charles Dutoit and featuring Artist-in-Residence Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

And that’s just one snapshot from a season filled with other, equally compelling sequences. In a season that includes 12 weeks with Music Director Andris Nelsons, other highlights include

  • two Mahler symphonies (Nos. 1 and 3, in September and January, respectively),
  • two weeks each with conductors Charles Dutoit, François-Xavier Roth, and Tugan Sokhiev,
  • Brahms and Dvorák with Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink,
  • an All-Mozart Symphony program with conductor Herbert Blomstedt,
  • Janácek’s Sinfonietta with conductor Christoph von Dohnányi, and
  • a world premiere by Sean Shepherd and an American premiere by Jörg Widmann.

For complete details about the 2017-2018 season, visit the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Brian McCreath is the Director of Production for CRB.