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James Levine cancels out of Tanglewood, skipping his last BSO appearances

Posted by Thomasine Berg  May 6, 2011 06:12 PM

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By Geoff Edgers
Globe Staff

As recently as this week, Boston Symphony Orchestra officials said they still hoped James Levine might finish his tenure by conducting at Tanglewood this summer. But on Friday, in a brief press release, the BSO confirmed what many suspected: Levine has led his last concert as the orchestra’s music director.

The statement announcing he wouldn’t appear at Tanglewood came a few minutes after a similar one from the Metropolitan Opera, where Levine has elected to remain as music director. Levine will miss the Met’s upcoming tour of Japan and its May 15 Carnegie Hall concert.

“Following his doctors’ advice, James Levine is taking the summer off to rest and recuperate from his ongoing back condition,” the Met release wrote.

The BSO declined to comment on the news other than to say that Mark Volpe, the orchestra’s managing director, was scheduled to meet with Levine next week. He still may go. The BSO got news of the cancellations in the early afternoon, the spokesman said.

In June, the BSO will release details on who will conduct the summer programs Levine had been scheduled to lead, including opening night on July 8, the Berlioz Requiem July 9, an all-Sibelius program July 16, an all-Ravel program July 24, and a concert featuring pianist Leon Fleisher slated for July 29.

This means Levine, 67, will officially leave his post Sept. 1 without taking the stage again. His exit will mark seven years of artistic highs but worsening health problems that kept him off stage and increasingly frustrated the BSO’s administration, players, and audience. With this week’s announcement, Levine will have conducted his last concert as BSO music director on Jan. 8, a program featuring Stravinsky's "Oedipus Rex" and Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle."

The BSO has launched a search for his successor, though no timetable for hiring a replacement has been announced, and the newly established search committee has yet to meet.

Geoff Edgers an be reached at

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