One of the most sought-after conductors of our time, Latvian Andris Nelsons has officially taken on the role of conductor at the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, following in many famous footsteps.Andris Nelsons’ face is currently plastered on billboards all across the city of Leipzig. The interest in the conductor is enormous; on February 23, Nelson will take up his official post as chief conductor on the occasion of the 275th anniversary of the Gewandhaus concert hall. The evening’s program includes works by Steffen Schleiermacher, Alban Berg and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.
In taking on the role of the 21st Gewandhaus “Kapellmeister,” Nelsons is now in league with a series of famous predecessors, including Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Wilhelm Furtwangler, Kurt Masur and Bruno Walter.
Popular with musicians and music fans around the world due to his open and friendly manner, Nelsons was a favored candidate right from the start. “The orchestra had been advised, with two or three referrals and Andris Nelsons quickly came to the fore,” said Gewandhaus director Andreas Schulz.
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Every concert is new and different
There’s also much excitement about Nelsons tenure in Leipzig coming out of the orchestra pit. “Every evening with him is different, every concert different and that’s what makes it so appealing,” said concertmaster Frank-Michael Erben, who will now be experiencing his fourth Gewandhaus conductor.
Violinist Anton Jivaev agrees: “There is no limit to him, he is always open for the moment.”
The enthusiasm is mutual. “The Gewandhaus Orchestra is one of the best in the world,” said Nelsons in an interview with the DPA news agency. “The chemistry between us has been right from the start. And the audience is very lively.”
As many other conductors, Andris Nelsons maintains ties to other orchestras; he also leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with which his contract runs until 2022. These dual roles has led to an unusual cooperation agreement between the two houses.
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Not only will both orchestras jointly commission a work each year to be performed in both houses, but there will also be concert weeks in which one ensemble interprets the other’s repertoire. An exchange of musicians and guest performances between cities is also planned.
A storied career at a young age
Andris Nelsons began his musical career as a trumpeter and later decided to become a conductor himself. He was just 24 years old when he started as chief conductor at the Latvian National Opera.
Further stops in his storied career included chief posts at the Northwest German Philharmonic in Herford, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, succeeding Simon Rattle. With the latter, he was guest conductor at the Bonn Beethovenfest in 2014; there, he conducted all nine symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven on four consecutive evenings.