Source: Boston Symphony Orchestra

As part of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s ongoing initiative to offer a variety of programs for audience members looking to learn more about classical music, the BSO is offering several adult educational initiatives for the 2018-19 BSO season.

The highly popular “Casual Fridays” program returns this season for four evening concerts featuring discounted ticket prices ($25-45), free pre- and post-concert receptions, and conductor and musician comments from the stage, and, in designated areas of the auditorium, a “Conductor Cam,” from which patrons see the orchestra’s perspective.

“BSO 101: Are You Listening?” is a free music and discussion series at Symphony Hall offered four times throughout the season. These 90-minute sessions are open to the general public and designed to help concertgoers enhance their listening skills while focusing on music to be performed by the BSO.

Additionally, the BSO continues its “What I Hear” series in collaboration with New England Conservatory. This series introduces audiences to composers working with the BSO via composer-curated chamber music programs and an onstage talk. Each program features a performance by NEC students with coaching by NEC faculty and the composers themselves. These free concerts are open to the public and take place in Williams Hall at New England Conservatory before the first BSO performance of the composer’s piece.
The BSO offers Friday Preview Talks, informative half-hour talks that take place prior to all Friday- afternoon subscription concerts and feature audio excerpts from that afternoon’s program.

Members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra will also perform 11 free Community Chamber Concerts as part of the orchestra’s Education and Community Engagement programming this season.

The “Casual Fridays” series offers shorter programs that encourage an informal, relaxed atmosphere and feature comments about the program by BSO musicians. These lower-priced concerts take place on four Friday evenings during the 2018-19 season, November 2, January 11, February 22, and April 12. Ticketholders are welcome to attend a free pre-concert reception at Symphony Hall, and patrons who choose to sit in “Conductor Cam” seats—located in the rear orchestra and second balcony levels—can watch the conductor from the orchestra’s perspective via monitors placed in front of these sections. Select BSO players will also speak to concertgoers from the stage about the evening’s works, and “Casual Fridays” also encourage both patrons and orchestra members to wear casual attire to Symphony Hall. Ticket- holders are invited to attend a post-concert gathering in Higginson Hall to mingle and share their concert experiences in a relaxed setting with live music and a cash bar. “Casual Fridays” launched during the 2015- 16 season and builds on the success of the “Underscore Fridays” concerts offered in previous years.
For the first “Casual Fridays” concert on Friday, November 2, BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons leads the orchestra in Haydn’s Symphony No. 93 and Elgar’s Enigma Variations. BSO trombonist Stephen Lange speaks to the audience from the stage before the concert.
The January 11 program features guest conductor Sir Andrew Davis leading the BSO in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K.491, with Alessio Bax as soloist. Sir Andrew also conducts Vaughn-Williams’s Symphony No. 5. BSO violinist Wendy Putnam gives the pre-concert remarks from the stage.

On February 22, the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir joins Andris Nelsons and the BSO for Britten’s Four Afternoons, for children’s choir and orchestra. The program also includes Lili Boulanger’s D'un Soir triste, as well as Debussy’s Nocturnes, featuring the Lorelei Ensemble performing the wordless choral part in “Sirènes.” BSO Associate Principal bassoonist Richard Ranti speaks to the audience from the stage before the program.
Finally, on April 12, Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel takes the BSO podium for the great 20th- century Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera’s Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring soloist Sergio Tiempo in his BSO debut. Mr. Dudamel also leads the BSO in the Venezuelan composer Antonio Estévez’s Cantata Criolla featuring tenor Aquiles Machado, baritone Gustavo Castillo, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. BSO oboist Mark McEwen gives the pre-concert remarks that evening.

“Casual Friday” tickets, $25-45, are available through SymphonyCharge (617-266-1200 or 888-266-1200), in person at the Symphony Hall Box Office (301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston), or online through the BSO’s website (

Five Wednesdays from 5:30-7 p.m. at Symphony Hall

“BSO 101: Are You Listening?” returns during the 2018-19 BSO season with five sessions with BSO Director of Program Publications Marc Mandel and Associate Director of Program Publications Robert Kirzinger, joined by members of the BSO, designed to enhance patrons’ listening abilities and appreciation of music. Each session focuses on upcoming BSO repertoire, examining and illuminating aspects of musical shape and form, and of the composers' individual musical styles. All of these sessions include recorded musical examples, and each is self-contained, so no prior musical training, or attendance at any previous session, is required. Each BSO 101 session is followed by a free tour of Symphony Hall. Admission to the BSO 101 sessions is free, but reservations are encouraged and can be made at

Wednesday, October 17: Exploring What’s New!
with BSO Associate Director of Program Publications Robert Kirzinger

An overview of unusual and new repertoire featured in the BSO’s 2018-19 subscription season, ranging from J.S. Bach’s rarely heard Christmas Oratorio to the world premiere of a newly commissioned piano concerto by BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès.
Wednesday, November 14: Orchestral Palettes I— Mahler, Beethoven, Dvořák, Harbison with BSO Director of Program Publications Marc Mandel
MAHLER Symphony No. 5 (BSO concerts of November 15, 16 & 17, 2018) BEETHOVEN Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 (BSO concerts of November 23, 24 & 27, 2018) DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 8 (BSO concerts of January 3, 4 & 5, 2019)
John HARBISON Symphony No. 2 (BSO concerts of January 10 & 12, 2019)
Wednesday, January 16: Symphonic Shifts—Haydn, Brahms, Sibelius, Copland with BSO Associate Director of Program Publications Robert Kirzinger
HAYDN Symphony No. 44, Trauer (BSO concerts of January 31, February 1, 2 & 5, 2019) BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 (BSO concerts of January 17, 18, 19 & 22, 2019)
SIBELIUS Symphonies Nos. 6 & 7 (BSO concerts of January 24, 25, 26 & 29, 2019) COPLAND Symphony No. 3 (BSO concerts of February 7, 8, 9 & 12, 2019

Wednesday, February 13: Orchestral Palettes II— Debussy, Puccini, Adès, Strauss with BSO Director of Program Publications Marc Mandel

DEBUSSY Nocturnes (BSO concerts of February 11 & 13, 2019)
PUCCINI Suor Angelica (BSO concerts of February 11 & 13, 2019)
Thomas ADÈS Piano Concerto (world premiere; BSO commission) (BSO concerts of March 7, 8 & 9, 2019)

STRAUSS Also sprach Zarathustra (BSO concerts of March 14, 15 & 16, 2019) Wednesday,April 3

20th-Century Masters—Stravinsky and Shostakovich with BSO Associate Director of Program Publications Robert Kirzinger STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring (BSO concerts of April 5, 6 & 9, 2019)

STRAVINSKY Petrushka (BSO concerts of May 2, 3 & 4, 2019)

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 15 (BSO concerts of April 25, 26, 27 & 30, 2019)




A collaboration between the Boston Symphony Orchestra and New England Conservatory, "What I Hear" is a series of free hour-long events that introduce audiences to composers working with the BSO via composer-curated chamber music programs and onstage talks moderated by BSO Assistant Artistic Administrator Eric Valliere. Performed by NEC students with coaching by NEC faculty and the composers themselves, these hour-long concerts start at 6 p.m. and take place around the time of the first BSO performance of the composer’s new piece in Williams Hall, located within the New England Conservatory’s main building at 30 Gainsborough Street, two blocks from Symphony Hall. For this season's first “What I Hear” event on Thursday, November 8, at 6 p.m., Latvian composer Andris Dzenītis curates a program of chamber music in connection with the BSO’s American premiere performance of his Māra. Performed at Symphony Hall November 8-13, Māra was co-commissioned by the BSO and the Gewandhaus Orchestra as part of the two orchestras’ five-year alliance, which kicked off in February 2018. On Thursday, January 24, at 6 p.m., Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho curates a program of chamber music in connection with the BSO’s performance of her Ciel d’hiver (2013) that week (January 24-29). For the third of this season’s three “What I Hear” events, on Thursday, May 2, composer Sebastian Currier curates a program of chamber music is advance of Andris Nelsons and the BSO’s world premiere performance of his Aether, for violin and orchestra, featuring Baiba Skride. The piece, which will be performed at Symphony Hall May 2-4, is the BSO’s second co-commission this season with the Gewandhaus Orchestra.


Friday Preview Talks are informative half-hour talks that incorporate recorded examples from the music to be performed in that afternoon’s concert, and are given primarily by BSO Director of Program Publications Marc Mandel and Associate Director of Program Publications Robert Kirzinger.

The Friday Previews take place from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. in Symphony Hall before all of the BSO’s Friday-afternoon subscription concerts throughout the season.


Members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra will perform 11 free Community Chamber Concerts as part of the orchestra’s Education and Community Engagement programming throughout the 2018-19 season. Concerts to take place in North Adams (10/28), Lowell (11/4), Wellesley (11/11), Charlestown (11/18), Jamaica Plain (1/13), Watertown (2/17), Concord (2/24), Brighton (3/3), Pittsfield (3/10), Roxbury (3/17) and Worcester (3/24) An additional four free concerts (11/2, 1/11, 3/15, & 4/12) will take place at Northeastern University’s Fenway Center, just around the corner from Symphony Hall.
Six new organizations have partnered with the Boston Symphony for this season’s series: Davis Museum (Wellesley), Curtis Hall (Jamaica Plain), Mosesian Center for the Arts (Watertown), WBUR’s CitySpace (Brighton), Taconic High School (Pittsfield), and First Baptist Church (Worcester). The BSO will also continue the practice of collaborating with local community music groups, who perform before the chamber concerts in an artistic exchange. Kids 4 Harmony (a program of Berkshire Children and Families) will perform before the North Adams concert on October 28, students from the Josiah Quincy School will perform before the Charlestown concert on November 18, Project STEP students will perform before the Roxbury concert on March 17, students from the Worcester Public Schools will perform prior to the March 24 concert in Worcester, and a student group to be announced at a later date will perform before the January 13 concert in Jamaica Plain. Additionally, prior to the performances on November 4, November 11, January 13, March 3, and March 10, BSO Associate Director of Program Publications Robert Kirzinger will host “Community Conversations,” an opportunity to ask questions and engage in conversation. Complete details about the Community Chamber Concerts are available here.
Free tickets for all non-Fenway Center concerts are available by calling 888-266-1200 or visiting Tickets to the Fenway Center Concerts are available by visiting A reservation is required to attend each event.



In addition to the BSO’s adult education initiatives, the Boston Symphony Orchestra Education and Community Engagement Department offers opportunities for individuals of all ages to connect with orchestral music in an array of settings. Programs for children and families include a series of Family Concerts, Concerts for Very Young People, and the Days in the Arts program hosted each summer at the BSO’s summer home, Tanglewood. The orchestra also connects with the local community through Symphony for our City, a program that builds ties between the BSO and up to 10 local non-profit organizations. The organization also offers a wide variety of programs for students and educators including BSO Youth Concerts, BSO High School Open Rehearsals, BSO High School Card, BSO College Card, the Collegiate Ambassadors Program, the BSO Concerto Competition, the BSO Young Artist Competition, and online study tools for music teachers.
In October 2017, the BSO launched a new innovative community engagement program—"BSO In Residence"—introducing a new paradigm for building creative collaborations between an orchestra and its surrounding communities. The first "BSO In Residence" collaboration is taking place with the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, now in its second year of an initial three-year period. Developed from a year-long strategic planning process in consultation with community leaders, "BSO In Residence" in Jamaica Plain features performances, demonstrations, school visits and other educational activities, and events that connect with Jamaica Plain's cultural strengths, vision, and resources.


In addition to the discounted “Casual Fridays” ticket prices ($25-45), the BSO has numerous affordable ticket options designed to encourage young concert-goers to enjoy BSO concerts at Symphony Hall. Affordable ticket deals include the orchestra’s highly successful $20 concert tickets for patrons under the age of 40, and the BSO College Card ($25), High School Card ($10), and BSO Medical Card programs that invite students to attend virtually any concert of their choosing throughout the BSO season for just the one-time cost of the card, with the exception of some pre-designated dates. Beginning with the 2017-18 season, the BSO is offering complimentary tickets available to EBT card holders. The Young Professionals Group (YoPro) offers discounted membership packages ($150) to BSO and Pops concerts featuring pre- and post-concert receptions, allowing members to meet and mingle with other young Bostonians. Patrons of all ages can also take advantage of BSO Rush Tickets, which cost $10 each, as well as the four BSO Open Rehearsals, affordably priced between $18 and $30, providing patrons a unique look at the rehearsal process. In addition, the orchestra continues to offer the Massachusetts Teachers Association and members of the military a 30 percent discount on all single tickets and subscriptions.


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