Boston heads for Canada

Boston heads for Canada


norman lebrecht

January 16, 2017

The Boston Symphony has fixed its first trip north of the border this century.

press release:

For the first time in 21 years, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Music Director Andris Nelsons, make a highly anticipated return to Canada for two performances: at Montreal’s Maison Symphonique on Saturday, March 4, and Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall on Sunday, March 5. These performances also mark Maestro Nelsons’ conducting debut in Canada.



  • herrera says:

    Will the American musicians take the opportunity to defect? Will Trump build a wall separating Niagara Falls in two? So much depends on the good behavior of the Bostonians not to embarrass the Motherland.

  • Leo says:

    What an astonishing statistic. Why is this?

    • Maple Leaf says:

      Because only two types of Americans go to Canada: draft dodgers and prison escapees.

    • Paul Wells says:

      It’s a non-trivial logistical exercise to move an orchestra over an international border, and if you’re going to go to the trouble of doing it, it’s not much harder to go to Berlin and Paris than to Montreal and Toronto.

      For similar reasons, while Yannick Nézet-Séguin toured his Rotterdam orchestra through Canadian cities some years ago, he hasn’t yet brought his Philadelphia orchestra. American orchestras always get a warm welcome when they come, but that doesn’t make it easier to get here.

      • MWnyc says:

        I’d have thought that NAFTA (and the US-Canada free trade agreement before it) would have solved that problem for touring orchestras. I guess not.

        • Scott Fields says:

          NAFTA affects products, not people. Foreign musicians need work permits in both countries, although the process is much easier for Canada. That said, symphonies the world over avoid Canada because of beaver attacks on the string and woodwinds sections.

  • Tom says:

    fwiw, The program will be Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique and Mozart – Piano Concerto 22 w. Emanuel Ax.

    • MacroV says:

      This isn’t about Emmanuel Ax, but I really hate it when touring orchestras take soloists along – especially if they’re name-brand soloists playing pretty standard rep. Neither Emmanuel Ax nor Mozart are unknown in Montreal and Toronto. If I’m going to pay good money for one chance to hear a group like the BSO on tour, I want to hear the orchestra, not have one-third of the program devoted to them playing back-up. I know why it’s done – to fill seats. But you’d hope the BSO is a big enough draw to sell out on its own in those towns. Seems like only Chicago, Cleveland, Berlin, and Vienna consistently tour without soloists.

      • Dapifer says:

        “If I’m going to pay good money for one chance to hear a group like the BSO on tour, I want to hear the orchestra”

        Very good observation and the presence of Mr Ax will not help specialy to sell 1 ticket in Montreal.

        In addition to that, bringing Symphonie Fantastique to Montreal is like being invited for supper by an Indian friend and arrive with your own curry.

        Btw the concert had been announced in Montreal since March 2016 and there just have been five “Boxing Days” to fill the hall with tickets sold at… 50% discount !!!

        • MacroV says:

          Yeah, I was gonna say something about carrying coals to Newcastle, though the BSO has its own Berlioz/French tradition and doubt they consider themselves less distinguished in that rep than the mighty OSM.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        I wouldn’t necessarily agree with your general argument, but in this particular case I think that Nelsons will not conduct what he is best at. A couple years ago I attended a disappointing open rehearsal of the BSO under Nelsons, with Richard Good as the soloist in a Mozart piano concerto. To my ears, Goode’s playing was exquisite, brimming with character, color and maturity. By contrast, I found the accompaniment bland and disjointed, especially in the slow movement.

      • Bruce says:

        Agree (as usual). Nelsons and the BSO have started a highly acclaimed Shostakovich cycle, for instance. Seems like whichever symphony is scheduled to be the next installment would sell plenty of tickets. And for the other half of the concert, something Nelsons/BSO are known for but the OSM isn’t — say Brahms #3 (

      • Mikey says:

        I wish they’d play some American music! Someone here mentioned Charles Ives, and I think that’s a wonderful idea.

        But of course, you can’t expect a European conductor to give a crap about American music. It is so beneath them.

        But it would have been a wonderful lesson to the Montréal audience, who are force-fed crap “avant-garde” music from a handful of local hacks and told that they must enjoy it. To hear an orchestra play a 20th century work that wasn’t all whoops, shrieks, and various other effects, would have let the audience understand that there IS an alternative to the avant-garde in concert repertoire.

    • MWnyc says:

      Makes me wonder if they decided they wanted a program that needs little rehearsal because the orchestra already knows it so well.

      • Bruce says:

        For an orchestra like Boston, that description would cover most of the standard repertoire.

      • jim says:

        The concertos are also being played by Ax in Boston in mid February. It makes sense that they would take music on tour that they’ve already prepared. The Berlioz is the companion piece on one of the two programs in Boston. I think it’s really a shame that they chose the Berlioz to bring on tour rather than the other program Ax is a part of. Along with the concerto it features Gunther Schuller’s Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee (a personal favorite of mine) and Beethoven’s Eroica.

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    A nice local New England touch for the BSO would be the music by Charlie Ives. Lots of it.