Andris Nelsons named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year

Musical America has recognized Andris Nelsons as their 2018 Artist of the Year, among a list of tremendous musicians including Mason Bates (Composer of the Year); Augustin Hadelich (Instrumentalist of the Year); Sondra Radvanovsky (Vocalist of the Year); and Francisco J. Nuñez (Educator of the Year). Maestro Nelsons and the other award-winners will receive these honors at Carnegie Hall this December, which coincides with the annual publication of Musical America’s International Directory of the Performing Arts. The award acknowledges his spectacular global contributions to classical music, including his extraordinary relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as its Music Director.

From the magazine:

Their chemistry onstage is unmistakable. The result so far is two consecutive Grammy awards for Best Orchestra Performances. With disarming sincerity, casual generosity, and boundless optimism, he
has released the potential of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

A reverence for the past surrounds virtually every square foot of Tanglewood, the beautiful summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The expansive lawn and spectacular Berkshire vistas are anchored by echoes of Koussevitzky, Copland, and Bernstein. The Visitor Center even displays the elegantly dashing cape, walking stick, and wingtip shoes Serge Koussevitzky himself wore as he surveyed the rustic earliest iterations of Tanglewood. It’s charming. It also reinforces the perception of conductors as aristocratic and distanced.

Tooling down the path
In the summer of 2014, though, one of the buzziest conversation starters in the VIP pavilions, was … golf carts. Andris Nelsons, who at that time was soon to fill the post Koussevitzky once held as BSO music director, found more than a little delight in taking the wheel of the carts normally used by the Tanglewood staff for everything from delivering the mail to shuttling those VIPs around. Sightings of the smiling 6-foot-1-inch conductor, dressed in loudly patterned, loose-fitting shirts, tooling down the path between the Koussevitzky Music Shed and Seiji Ozawa Hall became a highlight of visits to the Berkshires.

The contrast between that stylish 1930’s outfit and a cheerfully driven golf cart says a lot about what makes Andris Nelsons, Musical America’s Artist of the Year, one of the most inspiring conductors on the planet today. Disarming sincerity, casual generosity, and boundless optimism inform everything Nelsons does, from short, passing conversations (sometimes even from the seat of a golf cart) to the eye contact he makes with musicians during the most tightly coiled moments on the concert stage. Each of those interactions cements, to one degree or another, an empowering interpersonal connection.

The shorthand for this gift is “charisma.” But with the baggage that term can carry, it doesn’t quite encompass what these connections truly mean. Charisma can spark excitement and, maybe, lead to career opportunities. What Nelsons generates through his spirit and warmth goes beyond that. Those around him, from the sections of the orchestra to the executive offices and even the audience, are brought into a circle, each entity reinforcing the others, ultimately fueling the motivation of Nelsons himself.

Read more at MusicalAmerica.com

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