BOSTON – Fans of Pinchas Zukerman, take note. For the price of a Boston Symphony Orchestra ticket to next week’s Casual Fridays performance, concertgoers can opt in for a technology-enhanced experience that offers a rare view of the world-reanowned musician as he conducts the BSO.
The subscription series program on Feb. 21, 22 and 25 will feature works by Strauss, Bruckner, Mozart and Haydn.
Zukerman, a two-time Grammy award winner, is widely hailed as a virtuoso violinist. But the 71-year-old Israeli-born musician is also a highly sought-after conductor, traversing the globe’s most prestigious concert halls for some four decades and serving as conductor emeritus with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Toronto and principal guest conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He is currently in his fifth season as artist-in-residence of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in Australia.
Conducting “has allowed me other avenues of study, communication, and inspiration in my musical journey,” Zukerman said in an email.
Zukerman is admired as a collaborator, according to Anthony Fogg, the BSO’s artistic administrator and director of Tanglewood.
“For him, conducting is like being part of a large chamber ensemble,” said Fogg.
When he takes up his violin in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3, audience members will be struck by Zukerman’s “rich, full-bodied tone,” Fogg observed. “His right arm is a miracle. His ability to produce seamless legato and infinite gradations of color and dynamics is quite remarkable.”
At the Feb. 21 performance, the vibe at the stately Symphony Hall will loosen up: dress will be relaxed and there will be free pre- and post- concert receptions. People who buy seats in designated sections of Symphony Hall can use their phones, with the sound turned off, to connect with the BSO’s online tool featuring interactive program notes and other features. A special camera flips the audience perspective with a view of the conductor from the angle of the musicians. And for those who can’t make it to Symphony Hall, the performance will be broadcast live on 99.5, WCRB.
Zukerman has long, close ties with the BSO, with decades of performances at both Symphony Hall and at Tanglewood, the BSO’s summer home in the Berkshires.
“I have had the fortune of performing with the BSO since my debut in Tanglewood in 1969 with Eric Leinsdorf,” said Zukerman. “The string sound of the orchestra has always been something magical and I have enjoyed a wonderful rapport with these incredible musicians.”
In an interview last summer, Zukerman recalled that memorable first solo performance at Tanglewood on July 20, the day of the Apollo 11 moon landing. “I felt like I landed on the moon,” he said.
At Tanglewood last August, Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth, his frequent musical collaborator and wife, dazzled the audience with the exhilarating North American debut of Avner Dorman’s Double Concerto for Violin and Cello and Orchestra, co-commissioned in honor of Zukerman’s 70th birthday by the BSO, Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, where it had its world premiere in June.
The vibrant work was conducted by Asher Fisch. In April, Zukerman and Forsyth will perform the work with the Israel Philharmonic.
It was a coincidence that the three collaborators for the Tanglewood performance are Israeli, Zukerman and Forsyth said. But it is a source of pride and a testament to the way classical musicians are nurtured by Israel’s tradition of cultural curiosity, Zukerman said.
“The work proved to be a marvelous showcase for both Pinchas and Amanda, and made great use of the full range of orchestral colors available,” the BSO’s Fogg said.
It may be no coincidence that Zukerman is at the helm for the BSO’s tech-friendly Casual Friday performance. His career may have launched mid 20th century, but count Zukerman as an enthusiast of 21st century technology.
He rattled off with amazement the rapid pace and wide array of advances in the field, from virtual collaborations between musicians to the power of music to improve health and well-being.
Beyond the performance stage, Zukerman is leaving his mark as an educator, teaching for more than 25 years at the Manhattan School of Music and launching educational initiatives. He cherishes the guiding role he plays advancing the studies and careers of young talented musicians. “It’s one of the most exciting things that can happen to any one,” Zukerman said.
He is passing on the legacy of his mentors who recognized something in him. “That is a kind of obligation.”
But the responsibility goes further than working with only the most talented musicians, Zukerman added. He is passionate about sharing music with a broad audience.
“Music is the most powerful element between people.”
For more information, visit bso.org. To listen live, visit classicalwcrb.org, at 8 p.m. on Feb. 22.