The Boston Symphony Orchestra and music director Andris Nelsons have agreed to a three-year contract extension, deepening the conductor’s artistic imprint on an institution he has led since 2014.
The agreement, which was announced Monday morning, supersedes Nelsons’s earlier contract, ensuring he will lead the symphony through the 2024-25 season and possibly beyond: An evergreen clause allows his commitment to stretch well beyond the new term.
In a statement, Nelsons said he looked forward “with great optimism and enthusiasm” to his continued collaboration with the orchestra.
“I am so grateful to the musicians of the Boston Symphony for placing their trust and belief in me as their conductor these past six years,” he said. “This bond is at the heart of what enables us to grow together in our music-making.”
Orchestra president and chief executive Mark Volpe praised Nelsons’s “great musical gifts,” adding that the conductor brings “his entire heart, soul, and generous humanity to every situation, including his performances on stage.”
“All of us at the BSO look forward with great anticipation to the future when [Nelsons] and the orchestra continue to build upon their many accomplishments,” he said.
The contract extension comes as the BSO, like virtually every other performing arts organization in the country, has seen its performance schedule upended by the coronavirus. After abruptly canceling concerts in March, the BSO has suspended in-person performances at Symphony Hall through at least late November — totaling more than 300 canceled concerts and events and representing some $35 million in lost revenue.
Meanwhile, the orchestra recently laid off 50 full-time administrative staffers, and orchestra musicians recently ratified a three-year contract that includes an average pay cut of nearly 40 percent during the first year, with compensation increasing as the orchestra “redevelops sustainable revenue.”
An orchestra spokesperson declined to offer details of the conductor’s new contract, saying only that Nelsons, who according to the symphony’s most recent available tax returns earned roughly $1.2 million for his services in fiscal year 2018, “has taken and continues to take a substantial reduction in compensation” during the public health emergency. The Globe previously reported that Nelsons was not being compensated for canceled performances.
Nelsons has signed a similar contract extension with the BSO’s sister orchestra, the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, where he is known as the Gewandhauskapellmeister. The orchestras, which announced their collaboration early in Nelsons’s joint tenure, have similarly agreed to extend their partnership through 2025, with plans for a media and residency project that will feature the major symphonic works of Richard Strauss.
Nelsons called the extension of the two orchestras' collaboration “particularly gratifying.”
“[I]t has brought so many musical gifts to the players of each of these great orchestras, to the students of their training academies, and to their respective music communities,” he said, adding that such collaborations “can spark new perspectives for both the musicians and their audiences.”
Closer to home, Nelsons will lead the BSO in no less than 12 weeks of programs at Symphony Hall and will have a “significant presence” each year at the orchestra’s summer home at Tanglewood. In addition, the BSO plans to expand its Grammy Award-winning cycle of symphonic works by Dmitri Shostakovich in future seasons to include the Russian composer’s various concertos as well as the Jazz Suites. Nelsons also plans to continue the orchestra’s annual opera presentation, rescheduling Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” as well as presenting major works by the German composer Richard Wagner.
In addition to its traditional Carnegie Hall series, the orchestra plans to tour during each of Nelsons’s upcoming seasons, including trips to Europe and Asia. And next season, Nelsons plans to lead the orchestra in works originally scheduled for 2020-2021 season, including commissions of new works by Sofia Gubaidulina, Julia Adolphe, and HK Gruber.
Nelsons, who remains in Europe during the pandemic, plans to return to Boston in early 2021, saying he has a “powerful sense of anticipation” about being reunited with BSO musicians and audiences.
“Until then,” he said, “the BSO community is in my heart.”
Malcolm Gay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @malcolmgay.