BSO to spotlight Beethoven and women composers, close Shostakovich cycle in 2020-21 season

April 30, 2020 at 3:00 pm

By Aaron Keebaugh

Andris Nelsons will conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a concert performance of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk  in the 2020-21 season. Photo: Robert Torres

A rare Shostakovich opera, works by contemporary women composers, and a complete cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies are on tap for the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 2020-2021 season.

The scheduling of live performances in Boston remains uncertain due to the ongoing shutdown over Covid-19. But the BSO is currently planning to proceed with the new season, the orchestra announced Thursday.

Headlining the offerings next season will be a concert performance of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, to be led by Andris Nelsons April 6-10, 2021. Soprano Kristine Opolais, tenors Brandon Jovanovich and Sergei Skorokhodov, and bass Vladimir Vaneyev will appear in the principal roles. Nelsons will also complete the BSO’s multi-year survey of Shostakovich’s symphonies with the Symphony No. 13, Babi Yar (October 15-20) and Symphony No. 3, The First of May (January 21-23).

Works by contemporary women composers include Julia Wolfe’s Her Story, a BSO co-commission that celebrates the centennial of 19th Amendment, to be led by conductor Giancarlo Guerrero (November 5-7). Nelsons will lead the world premiere of a new work by Julia Adolphe (March 25-26) and the American premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Prologue for orchestra (October 15-20). The Latvian conductor will also lead Joan Tower’s Chamber Dance on programs running April 22-24.

Kevin Puts’s The Brightness of Light, premiered at Tanglewood last summer, will come to Symphony Hall as part of the October 8-10 programs. Soprano Renée Fleming and baritone Rod Gilfry will perform as soloists; Nelsons will conduct.

Thomas Adès will also lead a reprise of his critically acclaimed Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with pianist Kirill Gerstein (February 11-13).

The season kicks off September 16 with the first installment of the Beethoven cycle, which will run through October 3. Opening night will feature Nelsons conducting the composer’s Symphony No. 1 and Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring Lang Lang as soloist. On programs April 22-27, pianist Mitsuko Uchida will team up with Nelsons for Beethoven’s First and Third Piano Concertos, kicking off a three-year survey of the composer’s complete works in the genre.

Nelsons will also lead an all-Strauss program March 18-23, featuring the composer’s Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Symphonic Fantasy from Die Frau ohne Schatten, and the Four Last Songs, which will spotlight soprano Lise Davidsen. 

Guest conductors to appear next season include Giancarlo Guerrero leading Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 (November 5-7), and Dima Slobodeniouk in Stravinsky’s complete Firebird and music of Mendelssohn (November 12-17). Alan Gilbert will conduct Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3 and music of Bartók and Beethoven (November 19-21), and Herbert Blomstedt will offer Sibelius’s Symphony No. 4 and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (March 4-6). Andrew Manze will lead a program of Brahms, Mozart, and Victoria Borisova-Ollas (October 29-31). John Storgårds returns to Symphony Hall with a program of Grieg, Sibelius, and Martinů, featuring cellist Sol Gabetta (February 18-20). Thomas Adès will also lead a program of Prokofiev, Ravel, and Janáček (January 28-30).

Thomas Wilkins, the BSO’s family and youth concerts conductor, will lead works by Duke Ellington and Gershwin along with William Grant Still’s little-heard Symphony No. 4, Autochthonous (January 28-30). And BSO assistant conductor Anna Rakitina will lead the orchestra in Thomas Adès’s Polaris, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring Inon Barnatan as soloist (November 24-28).

The BSO will host pianists Daniil Trifonov in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (January 7-12), Emanuel Ax in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 (February 25-March 2), Rudolf Buchbinder in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 (January 14-19), Paul Lewis in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 (March 25-26 and April 16-17), and Yefim Bronfman in Scriabin’s Prometheus, Poem of Fire, accompanied by the composer’s lighting design(April 29-May 1, 2021).

Other soloists to appear include Augustin Hadelich in Britten’s Violin Concerto (October 22-24) and Gil Shaham in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Arvo Pärt’s Fratres (January 21-23). Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform Strauss’s Romance and Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 (March 31), and cellist Alban Gerhardt will bring Brett Dean’s Cello Concerto to Symphony Hall (February 4-6).

The Boston Symphony Chamber Players will offer four concerts next season in Jordan Hall. On November 6 they will perform music by Jennifer Higdon, Marti Epstein, Shulamit Ran, and Louis Farrenc. The musicians will also traverse works by Bartók, Gandolfi, and Dvořák on February 21; music by Glinka, Gubaidulina, Elena Langer, and Shostakovich on March 28; and a program of Hindemith, Wyner, and Mozart on April 25.

The Tanglewood Learning Institute will present programs in Boston that highlight the Beethoven celebration as well as the performances of Wolfe’s Her Story and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

Subscriptions for the 2020-2021 season will be available beginning May 4. Single tickets go on sale in August. bso.org; 888-266-1200

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