Back Online With Nelsons and the BSO

Andris Nelsons to continue roles.

If Andris Nelsons and the BSO play and there’s no audience in Symphony Hall to hear it, does it still make sound? The answer is a resounding yes, as the music director returns to Symphony Hall this week to begin recording three new Beethoven-inspired concert streams for release in February HERE. The streams will be available for purchase and viewing on February 11th, 18th, and 25th.

Nelsons leads the band for the first time since last January, just weeks before the covid plague forced the BSO (and most everyone else) to close its doors to the public and cancel the remainder of last and all of this season. See the official announcement with video statements HERE.

Video and photos of Nelsons’s first appearance with the BSO in a year will include rehearsals (from January 6th) of the Eroica. The conductor and the musicians wear masks situate themselves on a 36-foot extension—more than doubling the size of the stage—built to accommodate social distancing requirements between and among orchestra members.

In a poignant reflection on the Beethoven symphonic cycle Nelsons was to have conducted with the orchestra last fall in honor of the composer’s 250th anniversary, the streams will feature the Third, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Symphonies, as well as orchestral works by Iranian-Canadian composer Iman Habibi, British composer Hannah Kendall, and American composer Carlos Simon.

This will also be Nelsons’s first time back in Boston since last October’s announcement of a three-year extension of his contract as BSO music director, through August 2025, with an evergreen clause in place reflecting a mutual intent for a longterm commitment well beyond. The 15th music director since the orchestra’s founding, in 1881, Nelsons began his tenure in the fall of 2014.

The BSO Now streaming platform launched last November to expand the orchestra’s online presence during this pandemic time. BSO at Home and BSO Homeschool were followed by Boston Pops at Home, Encore BSO Recitals (all available at www.bso.org) and  the Tanglewood 2020 online festival (www.tanglewood.org). These programs have generated millions of interactions—directly with the content and indirectly through the orchestra’s social media channels—and have inspired the orchestra to continue to explore new ways of reaching the music community with new, innovative, and compelling programming, now and beyond.

There has never been a cancellation of Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts of this magnitude since the orchestra’s founding, in 1881. In the fall of 1918, the beginning of the BSO season was delayed by two weeks owing to the worldwide flu epidemic. During World War II, the Tanglewood season was shortened or cancelled. See BMInt article HERE.