Musical America: Artist of the Year

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.

Musical AmericaBrian McCreath

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.

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Boston Symphony Orchestra

The Andris Nelsons era with the Boston Symphony Orchestra was largely grounded in the standard repertoire in the music director’s inaugural season. Yet new music has been a prominent ...