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June 14, 2010

BSO Music Director Levine Withdraws from Tanglewood

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Due to the need for further recuperation from recent back surgery, BSO Music Director James Levine is withdrawing from his scheduled concerts with Tanglewood and the Boston Symphony Orchestra until further notice, according to a release just received by BMInt.

The opening night performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 , “Resurrection,” on July 9 will be led by Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, who will also conduct Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms on July 16. The next night, Thomas will lead the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 3.

Canadian Opera Company Music Director Johannes Debus, in his BSO debut, will conduct Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, slated for July 23; Austrian conductor Hans Graf, Music Director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, will lead the Viennese Strauss family’s music on July 25; and Christoph von Dohnányi will lead the staged Tanglewood Music Center production of Strauss’s Ariadne aux Naxos on August 1 and 2.

BSO management has not yet secured a substitute conductor for the program of Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, with Soprano Hei-Kying Hong, on July 31.

“This has been a tough year for all of us associated with the BSO, but for no one more than James Levine,” said BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe. “Jim’s determination to successfully complete his course of rehabilitation has been remarkable — and reminds me of the singular focus he has brought to his greatest musical achievements over the years.  We have deep admiration and respect for all Jim has accomplished with the BSO, and we look forward to next season when he is in better health and returns to what he loves doing more than anything else—leading performances of the highest, uncompromised standards.”

James Levine, BSO Music Director, said, “My doctors have told me I have made great progress—even beyond their expectations—but have advised me to err on the side of caution and take the summer off to recuperate more fully from the two back surgeries of this past year.  The most important thing is to not risk any delay in my recovery so I can return to good health and my conducting duties at the BSO and MET this fall without further interruptions.”

3 Comments

  1. The travails the BSO has experienced with its selection of a more “senior” music director has caused the Philharmonics of LA and NY to choose more youthful conductors. Now the Philadelphians have followed suit by naming 35-year-old Yannick Nezet-Seguin as their next music director, as of 2012. The Philadelphia Inquirer states that the Maestro can be seen wearing beach attire on his Facebook page. The only photos I saw had him in more commonplace garb, EXCEPT for one cartoon of him with a Superman (tm DC Comics) outfit.

    Comment by Laurence Glavin — June 14, 2010 at 6:11 pm

  2. I’m not surprised. Actually, I’m encouraged that Maestro Levine seems to have decided to take all the time he needs to recuperate fully, rather than resuming his duties at the earliest possible moment. As we have seen, rushing his return to the podium is a recipe for disaster. So here’s hoping for the best.

    YNS was impressive with the BSO. It may be too early to be sure, but it seems that Philadelphia has scored a real coup. I hope he’ll still be able to have the occasional guest conducting turn with the BSO.

    Comment by Joe Whipple — June 14, 2010 at 9:41 pm

  3. Given the quality of the replacements, like Dohnányi leading the student orchestra in Ariadne, I’d guess this cancellation has been in the works for a while. That is also good: recognition up front that recuperation takes time. Reports that all was going great just helped the marketing department, though I note Levine hardly appears — in the photos, that is — in the 2010-11 brochure I received last week.

    What disturbs me is Levine’s programming that seems not to consider that he might need to be replaced. Just who is going to conduct a double bill of Harbison and Mahler in October if a replacement is needed? Or maybe that’s just my lack of interest in the Harbison?

    Comment by Bill — June 14, 2010 at 10:57 pm

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