Seiji Ozawa Returns To The Symphony Hall Podium For The First Time Since Stepping Down As Music Director In 2002

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DATE: November 10, 2008




Fri. Nov. 28, 1:30 p.m., Sat. Nov. 29, 8 p.m.

For the first time since April 2002 when he stepped down as BSO music director after a 27-year tenure, Boston Symphony Orchestra Music Director LaureateSeiji Ozawareturns to conduct the orchestra at Symphony Hall, November 28 and 29. Mr. Ozawa leads an all-French program of music by two composers for whom he has a special affinity: Berlioz’ flamboyant Symphonie fantastique and  Olivier Messiaen’s Trois Petites Liturgies de la Présence divine , featuringPeter Serkinas piano soloist,  Takashi Haradaplaying the exotic ondes Martenot, and theWomen of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor.
Berlioz’ vivid 1830Symphonie fantastiquewas the composer’s first masterpiece. He called it an “Episode from the life of an artist,” crafting an ultra-Romantic depiction of a young musician’s opium-fueled dream in response to the despair of unrequited love. Berlioz’ programmatic scheme follows the lovesick artist through a dazzling ball, a summer evening in the country, a “March to the Scaffold,” and a rollicking “Witches’ Sabbath.” The work was inspired by Berlioz’ infatuation (he called it an “infernal passion”) with Irish actress Harriet Smithson, who the composer courted through letters but did not meet until 1832. After hearing a performance of the piece, Smithson was so impressed that she met with Berlioz the next day. The two were married ten months later.
Olivier Messiaen calls hisTrois Petites Liturgies de la Presence divine(“Three Short Liturgies of the Divine Presence”) above all “a music of colors” that are juxtaposed and superimposed “in folds, in waves, in swirls, in spirals, in intermingled motions.” Completed in 1944, the work’s unusual sonic spectrum includes orchestral strings with a variety of percussion, solo piano, a unison chorus of women’s voices, and the exotic ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument with a continuously variable pitch. Messiaen, a deeply spiritual man, wrote the text himself, expressing “theological truths, in terms humbly borrowed from the Holy Writ.”

Music Director Laureate Seiji Ozawa is one of the most acclaimed conductors in BSO history, leading the orchestra from 1973 to 2002. Through his many recordings, television appearances, awards, and worldwide touring, he is an internationally recognized celebrity.  Since 2002, Ozawa has been the music director of the Vienna State Opera and a favored guest of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also the Artistic Director and Founder of the Saito Kinen Festival and Saito Kinen Orchestra (SKO), the preeminent music and opera festival of Japan, as well as a new festival of opera, symphony concerts and chamber music called “Tokyo no Mori,” which had its first annual season in February 2005 in Tokyo.  Born in 1935 in Shenyang, China, Seiji Ozawa studied music from an early age, graduating with first prizes in both composition and conducting from Tokyo’s Toho School of Music. His relationship to Tanglewood dates back to 1960, when then-BSO conductor Charles Munch invited him to the festival after Ozawa won first prize at the International Competition of Orchestra Conductors. While working with Herbert von Karajan in West Berlin, Ozawa came to the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who appointed him assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic for the 1961-62 season. Other appointments have included music directorships of the San Francisco Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, and the Ravinia Festival. Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, inaugurated in 1994, recognizes the conductor’s extraordinary achievement in the arts.

American pianist Peter Serkin is one of the most distinctive and probing musicians on the international scene. Through performances with symphony orchestras, recital appearances, chamber music collaborations and recordings, he has distinguished himself in five centuries of repertory. An avid proponent of the music of  the 20th and 21st centuries, he has been instrumental in bringing music ranging from  Schoenberg and Stravinsky to Knussen and Lieberson to audiences around the world. He has performed numerous important world premieres, many of which were written especially for him, in particular works by Toru Takemitsu, Peter Lieberson, Oliver Knussen, and Alexander Goehr. Most recently, he played the world premieres of works by Elliott Carter and Charles Wuorinen, including Wuorinen’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Serkin’s recordings also reflect his distinctive musical vision in repertoire ranging from Mozart concerti and Beethoven sonatas to his most recent recording, the complete works for solo piano by Arnold Schoenberg.  Son of legendary pianist Rudolf Serkin, he began studying music in early childhood, entering the Curtis Institute of Music at the precocious age of 11. Now a father of five himself, he and his wife live in Massachusetts.

The first Japanese musician ever to play the ondes Martenot as a solo instrument, Takashi Harada graduated with top honors from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris. He performs extensively as a soloist and has premiered more than 200 new works, including his own compositions. In honor of the Messiaen centennial, he is performing in numerous works by the composer with orchestras around the world. He last performed with the BSO in Messiaen’sTurangalîla-Symphoniein 2000. Harada’s wide-ranging work includes soundtracks for film, such asRising Sun(directed by Philip Kaufman, music by Toru Takemitsu) andSnake Eyes(directed by Brian de Palma, music by Ryuichi Sakamoto). He has composed and performed extensively for rock, jazz, and improvisational ensembles as well, and has released recordings on the Victor, Fontec, and Decca labels. In 2001, Harada established Asia’s first school for the instrument, helping expand a working vocabulary and repertoire for the instrument.

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 throughSymphonyCharge (617-266-1200or888-266-1200), in person at theSymphony Hall Box Office(301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston), or online through the BSO’s website ( ).

The Symphony Hall Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday; when there are concerts, the box office remains open through intermission. 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 box office. SymphonyCharge is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is a $5.50 service fee for each ticket purchased online or by phone. 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 TTD/TTY 617-638-9289.

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.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s extensive website,www.bso.orgis the largest and most-visited orchestral website in the country, receiving more than 6.3 million visitors annually and generating $40 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 2008-2009 season, are available throughwww.bso.organd 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. Both stations also stream the concerts live through their websites

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 $19.50. 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

The Boston Symphony Association of Volunteers offers free public tours of Symphony Hall Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. (October 8 - December 3, 2008 and January 7- May 20, 2009), and the second Saturday of every month at 2:00 pm (October 13 - December 6, 2008 and January 10 - May 9, 2009) during the BSO season. Tours begin at the Massachusetts Avenue lobby entrance. Schedule subject to change. Please email, or call 617-638-9391 to confirm specific dates and times.

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 2008-09 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; Shreve, Crump & Low is the official jeweler of the BSO.

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

Bernadette Horgan, Director of Public Relations ( 617-638-9285
Kathleen Drohan, Associate Director of Public Relations ( 617-638-9286

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Friday November 28, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday November 29, 8 p.m.

SEIJI OZAWA, conductor
TAKASHI HARADA, ondes Martenot
   John Oliver, conductor

MESSIAENTrios Petites Liturgies de la Présence divine
BERLIOZSymphonie fantastique

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