American Soprano Renée Fleming Joins James Levine and the BSO For Strauss's Four Last Songs and Mahler's Symhony No.4

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Feb. 11 at 10:30 a.m. (Open Rehearsal), Feb. 11 at 8 p.m., Feb. 12 at 8 p.m., Feb. 13 at 8 p.m.

Renowned American soprano Renée Fleming joins James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, February 11-13, for concerts featuring Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs, which the composer wrote as something of a late-life love letter to his wife Pauline de Ahna. Continuing a multi-year survey of the symphonies of Mahler, Levine and the orchestra also perform the composer’s Symphony No. 4, featuring Ms. Fleming as soloist in the work’s final movement. Mahler and Strauss were contemporaries at the center of Austro-German musical life at the turn of the 20thcentury, and the program also includes a work by another influential composer of the time, Alban Berg, whose use of orchestra in his Three Pieces for Orchestra was heavily influenced by both Mahler and Strauss.

The Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss (1864-1949) were in fact the composer’s last creative effort, completed in 1948 just a year before he died. Strauss never had the opportunity to hear them performed, but he did choose the singer who would premiere them roughly eight months after his death, Kirsten Flagstad. EntitledFrühling(“Spring”),Beim Schlafengehen(“Going to Sleep”),September, andIm Abendrot(“At Sunset”), these four ravishing, emotionally powerful settings are considered one of the composer’s finest achievements.

Though Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 was predominantly written between 1899 and 1901, the song that serves as the finale of the symphony, “Das himmlische Leben” (Heavenly life) was completed in voice and piano form in 1892. The song was a setting of a poem from an anthology of seven hundred traditional German poems known asDes Knaben Wunderhorn(The youth’s magic horn), from which Mahler drew almost exclusively for song settings for more than a dozen years. Mahler held the song back when hisWunderhornsettings were to be published, deciding instead to use it as the finale of his Third Symphony. Ultimately, however, he saved it for the finale of the Symphony No. 4.

Alban Berg (1885-1935) wrote his Three Pieces for Orchestra in 1914 as an offering for the 40thbirthday of his “teacher and friend Arnold Schoenberg in immeasurable gratitude and love.” Berg’s lush, impressionistic score features a brilliant and innovative use of orchestra that nonetheless draws on precedents from Schoenberg, Mahler, and Strauss.

Photos and full artist biographies are available in the BSO’s online press kit atwww.bso.org/presskit.

JAMES LEVINE

Now in his sixth season as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, James Levine is the BSO’s 14th music director since the orchestra’s founding in 1881 and the first American-born conductor to hold that position. Maestro Levine made his Boston Symphony debut in April 1972 and became music director in the fall of 2004, having been named music director designate in October 2001. Highlights of his 2009-10 BSO programs include the premieres of commissioned works from Peter Lieberson, Elliott Carter, John Harbison, and John Williams; the BSO’s first complete Beethoven symphony cycle in 75 years, and the first BSO performances of Mendelssohn’sElijahsince 1980, plus music of Berg, Berlioz, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler, Mozart, Ravel, Schubert, Strauss (Richard, Johann Sr., Johann Jr., and Josef), and Stravinsky. Mr. Levine’s programming each year balances orchestral, operatic, and choral classics with significant music of the 20th and 21st centuries, including newly commissioned works from such leading American composers as Babbitt, Carter, Harbison, Kirchner, Lieberson, Schuller, and Wuorinen. At Tanglewood each summer he leads performances with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, as well as TMC classes devoted to orchestral repertoire, Lieder, and opera. In February 2009, Mr. Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra released their first recordings together on the BSO Classics label, all taken from live performances—Brahms’sEin deutsches Requiem, Ravel’s completeDaphnis et Chloé, Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, and William Bolcom’s Eighth Symphony andLyric Concerto. James Levine is also Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, where, in the thirty-eight years since his debut there, he has led nearly 2,500 performances of 85 different operas, including fifteen company premieres. This season at the Met he conducts new productions ofToscaandLes Contes d’Hoffmannand revivals ofSimon BoccanegraandLulu, as well as concerts at Carnegie Hall with the MET Orchestra and MET Chamber Ensemble. Also a distinguished pianist, Mr. Levine is an active chamber music and recital collaborator, especially in Lieder and song repertoire with the world’s great singers.

RENÉE FLEMING

One of the most beloved and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, soprano Renée Fleming captivates audiences with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, and compelling stage presence.

Known as “the people’s diva,” she continues to grace the world’s greatest opera stages and concert halls, now extending her reach to include other mediums. Over the past few seasons, Ms. Fleming has begun hosting a wide variety of television and radio broadcasts, including the Metropolitan Opera’sLive in HDseries for movie theaters and television, andLive from Lincoln Centeron PBS. In 2008, a precedent was broken when Ms. Fleming became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to headline an opening night gala. As a musical statesman, Renée Fleming has been sought after for numerous distinguished occasions, from the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to performances in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games. On January 18, 2009, she performed for the televisedWe Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorialconcert for President Obama. Ms. Fleming’s 2009-10 operatic season at the Metropolitan Opera includes performances of Strauss’sDer Rosenkavalierand Rossini’sArmida, a company premiere. She also appears at the Vienna State Opera in Strauss’sCapriccioand at the Zurich Opera in Verdi’sLa Traviataand Strauss’sDer Rosenkavalier. This season’s concert engagements include the opening night galas of the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as well as a European tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. A two-time Grammy winner, Ms. Fleming’s new CDVerismo(Decca/September 2009) features a collection of rarely heard Italian arias with the Orchestra Giuseppe Verdi di Milano conducted by Marco Armiliato. She is featured on the DVD of the completeDer Rosenkavalier(Decca/October 2009) with the Munich Philharmonic, conducted by Christian Thielemann. An advocate for literacy, Ms. Fleming has been featured in several promotional campaigns and she was honored by The New York Public Library as a “Library Lion.” Her own book,The Inner Voice,was published by Viking Penguin in 2004.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets for the regular-season Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as Friday afternoons, are priced from $29 to $105; concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons are priced from $30 to $115. Open rehearsal tickets are priced at $19 each (general admission). Tickets may be purchased by phone through SymphonyCharge (617-266-1200 or 888-266-1200), online through the BSO’s website

(www.bso.org), or in person at the Symphony Hall Box Office (301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston). There is a $5.50 service fee for all tickets purchased online or by phone through SymphonyCharge.

American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club, and Discover, as well as personal checks (in person or by mail) and cash (in person only) are all accepted at the Symphony Hall Box Office. A limited number of rush tickets for Boston Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Friday afternoons are set aside to be sold on the day of a performance. These tickets are sold at $9 each, one to a customer, at the Symphony Hall Box Office on Fridays beginning at 10 a.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning at 5 p.m. Gift certificates are available in any amount and may be used toward the purchase of tickets (subject to availability) to any Boston Symphony Orchestra or Boston Pops performance at Symphony Hall or Tanglewood. Gift certificates may also be used at the Symphony Shop to purchase merchandise.

Patrons with disabilities can access Symphony Hall through the Massachusetts Avenue lobby or the Cohen Wing on Huntington Avenue. An access service center, accessible restrooms, and elevators are available inside the Cohen Wing entrance. For ticket information, call the Disability Services Information Line at 617-638-9431 or TDD/TTY 617-638-9289.

PRE-CONCERT TALKS

The Boston Symphony Orchestra offers 30-minute Pre-Concert Talks in Symphony Hall before all BSO subscription concerts, beginning at 6:45 p.m. prior to the 8 p.m. evening concerts and at 12:15 p.m. prior to Friday-afternoon concerts. Open Rehearsal Talks begin one hour before the start of all Thursday-morning and Wednesday-evening Open Rehearsals. These informative talks, which include recorded musical examples, enhance the concert going experience by providing valuable insight into the music being performed.

RADIO BROADCASTS, STREAMING, PODCASTS, AND “CLASSICAL COMPANION”

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s extensive website, www.bso.org is the largest and most-visited orchestral website in the country, receiving more than 6.3 million visitors annually and generating $48 million in revenue since its launch in 1996. The BSO’s website offers fans information and music beyond the concert hall, providing interactive new media that includes “Classical Companion,” an interactive supplement of special BSO concerts that provides interviews with composers and performers, archival images, and video and sound clips. BSO Concert Preview Podcasts, focusing on each of the programs of the BSO’s 2009-2010 season, are available through www.bso.org and on iTunes.

BSO concerts can be heard regularly on the radio. The Friday-afternoon concerts are broadcast on WGBH 89.7 FM, and the Saturday-evening concerts are broadcast on WCRB 99.5 FM. WGBH also streams the concerts live through their website at www.wgbh.org.

SYMPHONY CAFÉ AND SYMPHONY SHOP

Symphony Café offers buffet-style dining from 5:30 p.m. until concert time for all evening Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts. In addition, Symphony Café is open for lunch prior to Friday afternoon concerts. Patrons enjoy the convenience of pre-concert dining at the Café in the unique ambiance of historic Symphony Hall. The cost of dinner is $32.50 per person; the cost of lunch is $19.00. The Café is located in Higginson Hall; patrons enter through the Cohen Wing entrance on Huntington Avenue. Please call 617-638-9328 for reservations.

The Symphony Shop, located in the Cohen Wing on Huntington Avenue, is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., and from one hour before concert time through intermission. A satellite shop, located on the first-balcony level, is open only during concerts. Merchandise may also be purchased by visiting the BSO website at www.bso.org.

SYMPHONY HALL TOURS

The Boston Symphony Association of Volunteers offers free public tours of Symphony Hall Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. (September 30 – December 9, 2009 and January 1 – June 23, 2010), and the second Saturday of every month at 2:00 p.m. (October 10 – December 12 and January 9 – June 12, 2010) during the BSO season. Tours begin at the Massachusetts Avenue lobby entrance. Schedule subject to change. Please email bsav@bso.org, or call 617-638-9391 to confirm specific dates and times.

SPONSORSHIPS

UBS will continue its partnership with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as its exclusive season sponsor, building on the mutually successful partnership that began in 2003. EMC Corporation is the supporting partner of the 2009-10 BSO season. Pre-concert Talks and the Symphony Cafe are supported by New England Coffee, official coffee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston, together with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, is the official hotel of the BSO. Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation is the official chauffeured transportation provider of the BSO.

All programs and artists are subject to change. For current program information, dial 617CONCERT (266-2378). For further information, call the Boston Symphony Orchestra at 617-266-1492. The Boston Symphony Orchestra is online at www.bso.org.

PRESS CONTACTS:

Bernadette Horgan, Director of Public Relations (bhorgan@bso.org) 617-638-9285
Kathleen Drohan, Associate Director of Public Relations (kdrohan@bso.org) 617-638-9286

# # #

BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PROGRAM LISTING, FEB. 11-13, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 10:30 a.m. (Open Rehearsal)
Thursday, February 11, 8 p.m.
Friday, February 12, 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 13, 8 p.m.

JAMES LEVINE, conductor
RENÉE FLEMING, soprano

BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
MAHLER Symphony No. 4

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bsoBSO Press Release, January 28, 2010

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