Recording of Ravel’s L’Enfant Et Les Sortilèges and Shéhérazade with
Recording features Maestro Ozawa, soprano Isabel Leonard, the Saito Kinen Orchestra, and the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto Chorus and Children’s Chorus
BSO Music Director Laureate Seiji Ozawa’s recording of Ravel’s L’Enfant Et Les Sortilèges and Shéhérazade with soprano Isabel Leonard, the Saito Kinen Orchestra, and the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto Chorus and Children’s Chorus has won the Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording today (February 15, 2016) at the 58th annual Grammy Awards. For more information, visit www.ozawa-festival.com/en/ or www.grammy.com.
Born in 1935 in Shenyang, China, Seiji Ozawa graduated with first prizes in both composition and conducting from Tokyo’s Toho School of Music, where he studied with the great pedagogue Hideo Saito. In 1959 he won first prize at the International Competition of Orchestra Conductors in Besançon, France, drawing the attention of then BSO music director Charles Munch, who invited him to be a Fellow at Tanglewood—the BSO’s acclaimed summer music academy—where he won the Koussevitzky Prize as outstanding student conductor in summer 1960. While working with Herbert von Karajan in West Berlin, Mr. Ozawa came to the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who appointed him assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic (1961-62). He was music director at the Ravinia Festival, Toronto Symphony, and San Francisco Symphony before being named BSO Music Director in 1973, leaving a legacy of touring, award-winning recordings (over 140 works of more than 50 composers), television productions (winning 2 Emmy awards), and commissioned works.
Mr. Ozawa served as Music Director of the Boston Symphony for 29 seasons (1973-2002), making history as that orchestra’s longest-serving music director; his commitment to the BSO included appearances at the world-renowned Tanglewood festival, where Seiji Ozawa Hall was named in his honor, and where he worked closely with the Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center. Throughout his tenure, Seiji Ozawa played a major role in BSO touring, leading the ensemble on 15 of its 25 major international tours, among them five to Japan and eight to Europe, including a special performance at the foot of Paris’s Eiffel Tower in celebration of the new millennium, and a major tour to mark the BSO’s centennial in 1981. In 1979, the BSO and Seiji Ozawa traveled to Shanghai and Peking, becoming the first western orchestra to visit the People’s Republic of China following the establishment of diplomatic relations. Mr. Ozawa also led the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s first tour to South America in 1992. Mr. Ozawa’s most recent appearances with the BSO at Symphony Hall took place in fall 2008. He makes a welcome return to Tanglewood in 2016, ten years since his last appearance at the festival in summer 2006; he led his final concert as BSO Music Director at Tanglewood in 2002.
Now BSO Music Director Laureate, Mr. Ozawa is also artistic director and founder of the Saito Kinen Orchestra and the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, Japan’s pre-eminent music and opera festival. For the Opening Ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, Mr. Ozawa led Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” with the Saito Kinen Orchestra and six choruses located on five different continents. He has established many programs for young musicians, including the Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy in Okushiga and the Seiji Ozawa International Music Academy in Switzerland. Mr. Ozawa served as Music Director of the Vienna State Opera from 2002 to 2010. Tremendously popular in Europe, he has conducted many orchestras there, including the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic, where he holds an honorary membership.
In December, Seiji Ozawa received the distinguished 2015 Kennedy Center Honor, along with fellow recipients Rita Moreno, Carole King, George Lucas, and Cicely Tyson. French President Jacques Chirac named Mr. Ozawa Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2008, one of many international accolades bestowed on the esteemed conductor, including honorary degrees from the Sorbonne and Harvard University.
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