James Levine Takes Up Boston Symphony Baton

Classic Arts News   James Levine Takes Up Boston Symphony Baton
James Levine conducts his first performance as the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra tonight, leading Mahler's massive Symphony No. 8.

Levine, the longtime conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, was named the BSO's 14th music director in the fall of 2001. He succeeds Seiji Ozawa, who stepped down in 2002.

Tonight's sold-out event features the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the American Boychoir, and soloists Jane Eaglen, Hei-Kyung Hong, Heidi Grant Murphy, and Stephanie Blythe, among others. The concert will be preceded by a reception and followed by a black-tie dinner.

Levine, the BSO's first American-born music director, studied at Juilliard and served as an assistant conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra before being named the Met's principal conductor in 1973‹at the age of 30‹and its music director in 1976. In 1986, he was made the company's first artistic director (he has now relinquished that title because of the demands of his BSO position, but retains the post of music director). Levine has also conducted several European ensembles, most recently the Munich Philharmonic.

A champion of new and American music, Levine will lead newly commissioned works by Milton Babbitt, John Harbison, and Charles Wuorinen at the BSO this season, as well as music by contemporary composers Elliott Carter, Gy‹rgi Ligeti, and Witold Lutoslawski. Other highlights of his first season include Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and a concert performance of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman.

Tonight's program will be repeated on Saturday, October 23.

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