Until rather recently, the Boston Symphony Orchestra was not in a position to pursue much international touring. Now it appears to be making up for lost time.
Under the baton of music director Andris Nelsons, the BSO will be returning this May to Europe for its second international tour within the span of nine months. The eight-city tour (May 3-12) to Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg includes stops in Frankfurt, Essen, Munich, Hamburg, and Vienna, where the orchestra will perform two concerts in the storied Musikverein. It has been almost two decades since the BSO performed in Vienna or Munich, and it has not been to Frankfurt since 1991. Perhaps surprisingly, the ensemble will be visiting Dresden, Luxembourg, and Leipzig for the first time in its history.
The Leipzig debut should be of particular significance, as it marks what the orchestra has been calling an unofficial launch of its new multiyear alliance with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, a partnership slated to begin officially during the 2017-18 season, when Nelsons assumes the Gewandhaus directorship in addition to his responsibilities at the BSO.
With every orchestra he has directed in recent years, Nelsons has favored a very active approach to touring. In interviews, he has touted its positive impact on ensemble morale, musicianship, and, naturally, international profile. The BSO has indicated it will be making Nelsons-led tours an annual event in the seasons to come.
For its May outing, the tour repertoire will include Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, Bruch’s “Kol Nidre” with cellist Jan Vogler, Debussy’s “La Mer,” Ravel’s “La Valse,” and the Letter Scene from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” with Kristine Opolais, Nelsons’s wife, as soprano soloist.