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Andris Nelsons

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Biography

Andris Nelsons (born 18 November 1978) is a Latvian conductor.

Nelsons was born in Riga. His mother founded the first early music ensemble in Latvia, and his father was a choral conductor, cellist, and teacher. At age five, his mother and stepfather (a choir conductor) took him to a performance of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, which Nelsons refers to as a profoundly formative experience: “…it had a hypnotic effect on me. I was overwhelmed by the music. I cried when Tannhäuser died. I still think this was the biggest thing that happened in my childhood.”

As a youth, Nelsons studied piano, and took up the trumpet at age 12. He also sang bass-baritone, with a special interest in early music, in his mother’s ensemble. He studied for one summer at the Dartington International Summer School with Evelyn Tubb. He served as a trumpeter with the orchestra of the Latvian National Opera.

Conducting career:
Nelsons studied conducting with Alexander Titov in Saint Petersburg, Russia and participated in conducting master classes with Neeme Järvi and Jorma Panula. He came to the attention of Mariss Jansons when he emergency-substituted with the Oslo Philharmonic in their trumpet section during an orchestra tour. Nelsons counts Jansons as a mentor, and has been a conducting student with him since 2002.

In 2003, Nelsons became principal conductor of the Latvian National Opera. He concluded his tenure there after four years in 2007.

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