Highlights include complete Beethoven Symphony Cycle, Strauss's Four Last Songs with Renée Fleming, Mendelsshohn's "Elihah," Mahler's Fourth and Seventh Symphonies, and Premieres by Carter, Harbison, Lieverson and John Williams.
BSO Music Director James Levine (pictured) leads fourteen programs in the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 2009-10 season—the orchestra’s 129th season and Maestro Levine’s sixth as music director—which begins with a special Opening Night program under his direction on Wednesday, September 23, and concludes on Saturday, May 1. The Opening Night program features two acclaimed soloists, Evgeny Kissin performing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and the BSO’s world-renowned principal harpist Ann Hobson Pilot, who will retire from the BSO in August 2009, in the world premiere of John Williams’ On Willows and Birches, written specifically for her. Also on the program are Debussy’s La Mer and Berlioz’ Roman Carnival Overture. This program will be repeated on October 1 as Carnegie Hall’s Opening Night gala. The 2009-10 BSO season is sponsored by UBS.
Highlights of Maestro Levine’s schedule include the complete cycle of nine Beethoven symphonies—a first for Mr. Levine and the BSO—in four consecutive programs in October and November; Strauss’ Four Last Songs and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with Renée Fleming; Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah, which has not been performed by the BSO for more than twenty years; a program pairing two great works for chorus and orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms; Schubert’s Great C major symphony; Mahler’s Symphony No. 7; music of Berg, Brahms, and Schubert; and, in keeping with the BSO’s historic reputation for performances of the great French orchestral repertoire, music by Berlioz, Debussy, and Ravel. In addition, Maestro Levine leads a special Pension Fund Concert in March including Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and music by Joseph Strauss and Johann Strausses I and II.
Mr. Levine’s 2009-10 programs with the BSO bring four premieres featuring distinguished soloists: the world premiere of John Williams’ On Willows and Birches with BSO harpist Ann Hobson Pilot; the American premiere of Elliott Carter’s Flute Concerto, a BSO co-commission, with BSO principal flute Elizabeth Rowe; the world premiere of a BSO commission by Peter Lieberson, his Farewell Songs featuring the acclaimed Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley; and the world premiere of John Harbison’s BSO-commissioned Double Concerto for violin and cello, featuring Mira Wang and Jan Vogler.
Other featured soloists include Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Carter’s Dialogues for piano and orchestra and, on the same program, BSO principal violist Steven Ansell in Berlioz’s Harold in Italy; soprano Grazia Doranzio, mezzo-soprano Anke Vondung, tenor Michael Schade, and bass Eric Owens in Mozart’s Requiem; soprano Christine Brewer, contralto Meredith Arwady, tenor Matthew Polenzani, and bass-baritone Eike Wilm Schulte in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; and, in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, soprano Christine Brewer, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, and baritone Michael Volle. The Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor, is featured in the performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
Two other BSO co-commissions will also be given American premieres during the 2009-10 season. Former BSO assistant conductor Ludovic Morlot returns for a subscription series including the American premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’ Helios Choros II (Sun God Dancers) in October; and Sir Colin Davis leads the American premiere of James MacMillan’s St. John Passion—a BSO co-commission written at Sir Colin’s request to mark the conductor’s 80th birthday—with the acclaimed English baritone Christopher Maltman and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in January.