Andris Nelsons (born 18 November 1978) is a Latvian conductor. He is currently the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.
Nelsons was born in Riga. His mother founded the first early music ensemble in Latvia, and his father was a choral conductor, cellist, and teacher.At age five, his mother and stepfather (a choir conductor) took him to a performance of Wagner'sTannhäuser, which Nelsons refers to as a profoundly formative experience: "...it had a hypnotic effect on me. I was overwhelmed by the music. I cried when Tannhäuser died. I still think this was the biggest thing that happened in my childhood."
As a youth, Nelsons studied piano, and took up the trumpet at age 12.He also sang bass-baritone, with a special interest in early music, in his mother's ensemble.He studied for one summer at the Dartington International Summer School with Evelyn Tubb. He served as a trumpeter with the orchestra of the Latvian National Opera.
Nelsons studied conducting with Alexander Titov in Saint Petersburg, Russiaand participated in conducting master classes with Neeme Järviand Jorma Panula. He came to the attention of Mariss Jansonswhen he emergency-substituted with the Oslo Philharmonicin their trumpet section during an orchestra tour. Nelsons counts Jansons as a mentor, and has been a conducting student with him since 2002.
In 2003, Nelsons became principal conductor of the Latvian National Opera. He concluded his tenure there after four years in 2007. In 2006, Nelsons became chief conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonieof Herford, Germany, a post he held until the end of the 2008/09 season. His first conducting appearance at the Metropolitan Operawas in October 2009, a production of Turandot.In July 2010, Nelsons made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival, conducting a new production of Wagner's Lohengrinat the opening performance of the festival.
In November 2017, The Boston Globereported that Nelsons told Jim Braudeand Margery Eaganof Boston Public Radiothat sexual harassmentis not – nor has it ever been – an issue in the classical music world.In a subsequent statement to the paper, Nelsons clarified his position saying that he has "not seen overt examples of sexual misconduct" but admitted that it "takes place in all fields, including, of course, the classical music industry."
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
In the UK, Nelsons's early work included studio concerts with the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, and his first BBC Philharmonic concert at the Bridgewater Hall was in November 2007.In October 2007, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra(CBSO) named Nelsons as its 12th principal conductor and music director, effective with the 2008/09 season, with an initial contract for three years. The appointment was unusual in that Nelsons had conducted the CBSO only in a private concert and in a recording session, without a public concert engagement, prior to being named to the post.His first public conducting appearance with the CBSO was on 11 November 2007 in a matinee concert,and his first subscription concert appearance with the CBSO was in March 2008.In July 2009, Nelsons extended his CBSO contract for an additional three years, through the 2013/14 season.In August 2012, the CBSO announced the extension of his CBSO contract formally through the 2014/15 season, and then for subsequent seasons on the basis of an annual rolling renewal.In October 2013, the CBSO announced the conclusion of Nelsons's tenure as music director after the end of the 2014/15 season.
Boston Symphony Orchestra
In the US, Nelsons made his first guest-conducting appearance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra(BSO) in March 2011, as an emergency substitute for James Levine at Carnegie Hall.He subsequently guest-conducted the BSO at the Tanglewood Music Festival in July 2012,and made his first appearance with the BSO at Symphony Hall, Boston in January 2013. In May 2013, the BSO named Nelsons as its 15th music director effective the 2014/15 season. His initial contract was for 5 years and stipulated 8 to 10 weeks of scheduled appearances in the first year of the contract and 12 weeks in subsequent years.
Nelsons held the title of Music Director Designate in the 2013/14 season.In August 2015, the BSO announced the extension of Nelsons's contract as music director through the 2021/22 season with a new contract, for eight years, that replaced the initial five-year contract, and also contained an evergreen clause for automatic renewal.
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Nelsons first guest-conducted the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 2011. Since February 2018 Nelsons is the 21st Gewandhauskapellmeister(music director). The orchestra announced the appointment with the initial contract for 5 seasons.
Concerts and operas
In the 2016/17 season, Nelsons continued his collaborations with Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker, Het Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest and Philharmonia Orchestra.
In December 2016, he returned to the Royal Opera House conducting Der Rosenkavalier in a new production directed by Robert Carsen. Nelsons is a regular guest at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Bayreuth Festival and is Artist-in-Residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund.
With the CBSO, Nelsons has recorded music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky,Richard Strauss,and Igor Stravinskyfor the Orfeo label. Separately from the CBSO, Nelsons has also recorded for the BR-Klassik label.Nelsons has also recorded commercially with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon,where their album Under Stalin's Shadow, of the Symphony No 10of Shostakovich, received a 2015 Grammy Awardfor best orchestral performance.This DG album is part of an intended long-term contract between the Boston Symphony, Nelsons and DG, as extended in May 2016.
Nelsons was married to the Latvian soprano Kristīne Opolais. They met during Nelsons's tenure at Latvian National Opera, when she was a member of the Latvian National Opera chorus, and later became a solo singer with the company.The couple married in 2011.Their daughter, Adriana Anna, was born on 28 December 2011. The couple announced their divorce on March 27, 2018.