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Andris Nelsons

In November 2013, Andris Nelsons returns to Japan to lead the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (which has previously performed in Japan with Simon Rattle and Sakari Oramo) and two internationally-acclaimed soloists in a series of concerts, showcasing well-known nineteenth and early twentieth century symphonic works.

Riga-born Nelsons grew up in a family of musicians during the Soviet era. Seeing Wagner's opera Tannhauser impacted strongly on the five-year-old Latvian. He studied trumpet at such institutes as the Latvian Academy of Music and began a career as a trumpeter for the Orchestra of the Latvian National Opera (founded in 1918 in Riga) at the age of eighteen. The young Nelsons, who took up singing in Riga, before studying it under the direction of British soprano and early music specialist Evelyn Tubb in England, sang English and Italian madrigals as a bass baritone in the ensemble founded in 1982 by his mother. He also studied conducting in his teens in Riga, before training with prominent Russian conductor Alexander Titov at the St Petersburg Conservatory in 2001. That year, Nelsons had an opportunity to swap his trumpet for a baton, and made a successful performance of Rossini's popular opera Il Barbiere di Siviglio at the Latvian National Opera. The following year he stood in for the indisposed first trumpeter of the visiting Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, performing Berlioz's electrifying Symphonie fantastique under Mariss Jansons, and began taking Jansons' conducting tutorial in Oslo, before becoming principal conductor of the Latvian National Opera in 2003.

In 2008, after winning critical acclaim for his conducting of the Latvian National Opera's new production of Das Rheingold in Riga, Nelsons took over the helm of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Soon he and the CBSO collaborated on a successful recording of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, and in 2009 he made his debut at the Lucerne Festival, conducting his orchestra in Debussy's shimmering seascape tone poem La Mer. He has since guest conducted such leading international groups as the London Symphony Orchestra in Shostakovich's gripping Fifth Symphony and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in Shostakovich's tragic Eighth Symphony of 1943.

As an opera conductor, he has won admirers at New York Metropolitan Opera for his 2009 debut in Italian director Franco Zeffirelli's spectacular 1987 production of Puccini's Turandot and also at Bayreuth for his 2010 debut in German director Hans Neuenfels' new and striking staging of Wagner's Lohengrin, set in a rat laboratory. Nelsons made his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at New York's Carnegie Hall in 2011 in a performance of Mahler's profound and powerful Ninth Symphony, and was appointed the American orchestra's new music director in 2013.

On Monday 18 November 2013, 7pm at Tokyo Opera City, Nelsons and the CBSO play Wagner's Lohengrin Prelude and also the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor, Op 47, featuring soloist Hilary Hahn. Nelsons and his orchestra will wrap up the concert with Dvořák's 1893 New World Symphony.

On Tuesday 19 November, 7pm at the same venue, Nelsons and the CBSO perform the overture to Beethoven's 1801 The Creatures of Prometheus, Op 43. They also perform Brahms' Piano Concerto No 1 in D Minor, Op 15, featuring French pianist Helene Grimaud. Brahms' Fourth Symphony of 1885 concludes the programme.

On Wednesday 20 November, 7pm at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Hall and also on Saturday 23 November, 4pm at Soreil Hall, Kita Kyushu, Nelsons and the orchestra's concerts feature Beethoven's Creatures of Prometheus Overture, Brahms' D Minor Piano Concerto featuring Helene Grimaud and Dvořák's New World Symphony.

On Thursday 21 November, 7pm at Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre and also on Sunday 24 November, 3pm at Hyogo Performing Arts Centre, Nishinomiya city, Hyogo Prefecture, the CBSO plays Wagner's Lohengrin, Sibelius' Violin Concerto with Hilary Hahn and Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony in E minor, Op 64.

For information on the 18, 19 and 21 November concerts, please see www.japanarts.co.jp, for details of the 20 November concert: www.tomin-gekijo.or.jp/lineup/music/2013/11/000228.html, 23 November: www.soleil-hall.jp/event/201311.html and for 24 November: www1.gcenter-hyogo.jp

Posted: 3 November 2013 by Nobuko Yamazaki

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