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The BSO Heads Out For Its First European Tour Since 2007

In this photo from 2014, Andris Nelson conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his inaugural concert as music director. (Courtesy Chris Lee/Boston Symphony Orchestra)
In this photo from 2014, Andris Nelson conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his inaugural concert as music director. (Courtesy Chris Lee/Boston Symphony Orchestra)
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The Boston Symphony Orchestra kicks off its European tour this weekend with performances at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Just a few days after packing it in after a summer at Tanglewood, the BSO musicians are making their way across the pond for a long-planned, 12-concert trip to eight cities, including Berlin, Milan and Lucerne in Switzerland.

Principal horn player Jamie Sommerville said he and his peers are looking forward to traveling with their “newish” music director, Andris Nelsons.

“We’re all in that place where everything is prepared and in sync with the new conductor,” Sommerville said at Symphony Hall before departing, “but we’re still really excited because it still feels really new.”

Sommerville also explained why, in part, it’s important for the BSO to go to Europe. The orchestra hasn’t done that since 2007 with maestro James Levine.

“I think there’s real danger for orchestras — even very successful, high-quality orchestras — to kind of turn into regional orchestras,” Sommerville said.

The hornist recalled how the audiences at Royal Albert Hall in London are more raucous than they are here in Boston.

“I don’t know how it happens, but it’s an amazing bit of crowd cooperation. They’ll sing songs to the conductors, or to the musicians, during the intermissions. And it’s just a great crowd, and it’s live to radio, so it’s a really cool tradition that we like being part of.”

And who knows, perhaps the BSO musicians will find themselves fending off some groupies.

As for the bonding that will likely occur as the orchestra members spend most of their waking hours together, Sommerville mused, “What effect that has on the music-making is pretty hard to quantify, but it feels like it will enrich it a little bit. If nothing else it will make us feel more like a family.”

The tour repertoire includes performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, which the BSO recorded this year.

Related:

Andrea Shea Twitter Senior Arts Reporter
Andrea Shea is WBUR's arts reporter.

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