In Celebration of Mark Volpe’s 23 Years of Leadership

Mark Volpe

During his near-quarter-century with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Eunice and Julian Cohen President and CEO Mark Volpe has distinguished himself among orchestral administrators the world over. He has been responsible for all the activities of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra, and Tanglewood, a scope of activities unmatched by any other orchestra in the world. He has driven the BSO’s artistic mission of musical excellence by bringing the BSO to the widest possible audience through live performances, traditional and new media, and a variety of social media platforms. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark has worked tirelessly to lead the BSO through the most challenging period in its history. The entire BSO community salutes Mark for his many decades of service to the BSO and to orchestral music in America, and we wish him well on his retirement.    

Send your well wishes to Mark Volpe in his retirement 

The BSO will honor Mark’s legacy by creating the Volpe Fund to launch the new BSO Resident Fellows program, a highly selective training opportunity for exceptional young symphonic musicians from historically underrepresented populations. By donating to the Volpe Fund, you will ensure the success of this important program for which Mark cares so deeply. 

Make a contribution to the Volpe Fund 

MV23: 23 Great Achievements of Mark Volpe’s Tenure  

Over the final 23 days of Mark Volpe’s tenure as Eunice and Julian Cohen Managing Director, the BSO will highlight 23 of the BSO’s landmark achievements under his leadership – one for each year of his association with the organization. Individually, they are a but a few of the accomplishments the BSO, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood have reached on stage, in our community, and across the world. Taken together, they form a portrait of the indelible impact Mark has had on the BSO, and an overview of the legacy he leaves as he embarks on his retirement. 

23. Sharing Music with All through Sensory Friendly Concerts


Sharing the joy of orchestral music with everyone truly means everyone, so ensuring that the concert experience is comfortable and appropriate for all is always a priority at the BSO. Starting in 2019, the Boston Pops has staged three sensory friendly concerts designed for listeners with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other sensory sensitivities. For many of the participants, these performances marked the first time they were able to attend a concert in Symphony Hall with their families. The events began with an instrument playground, which gave attendees the chance to try out various orchestral instruments for themselves. The instruments are explained and demonstrated by volunteers, including Mark (shown here), who called on his past as a professional clarinetist to engage this young music fan with the same attention, care, warmth, and humanity with which he guided the BSO for 23 years. (Photo by Michael Blanchard) 

22. Tanglewood Deepens Intersection of Music and Learning with Linde Center Facility


The Linde Center for Music and Learning – Tanglewood’s first climate-controlled, year-round buildings – opened in 2019, deepening the BSO’s connections in the Berkshires forged more than 80 years ago. The Linde Center supports the performance and rehearsal activities of the Tanglewood Music Center and hosts the Tanglewood Learning Institute year-round. BSO Trustee Joyce Linde, whose family’s generosity is honored in the naming of the Linde Center and its main Studio E (shown here) after the late BSO Board Chair Ed Linde, envisioned the facility as an amplification of Tanglewood’s goal of bringing all people together though music and learning. Designed by William Rawn Associates and supported by Tanglewood Forever campaign donors, who united to raise more than $72.5 million for Tanglewood, the Linde Center is also available to the Berkshire community for use throughout the year. (Photo by Robert Benson)

21. BSO in Residence Program Redefines Community Engagement


In 2017, the BSO and its neighbors in Boston’s Jamaica Plain community launched BSO in Residence, a collaborative, co-designed engagement program addressing community strengths and artistic and cultural goals. The BSO and Boston Pops kicked off the program with a free concert in Boston’s Franklin Park featuring three of the organizations’ conductors (l-r) Thomas Wilkins, Andris Nelsons, and Keith Lockhart. This concert marked a list of firsts: the first time the BSO and the Boston Pops performed on the same stage in a free outdoor public venue, the first performance by the BSO in Boston's largest park, and the first time Andris Nelsons has led the orchestra in an outdoor venue in Boston. The concert was preceded by a festival featuring BSO arts partners from Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, as well as an interactive painting, an exhibit from the Boston Children's Museum, and an instrument playground from the BSO. (Photo by Aram Boghosian)

20. Boston Symphony Childrens Choir Continues BSO Vocal Tradition


Founded by John Oliver in 1970, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (TFC) has proven itself as a favorite of conductors, soloists, critics, and audiences alike. When James Burton (standing right) became Conductor of the TFC and BSO Choral Director in February 2017, he set out to create a new BSO ensemble to perform works calling for a more youthful sound. Burton selected 65 singers in grades 5-9 to take part in the BSO's January 2018 performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 3. Following the success of that project, the Boston Symphony Children's Choir (BSCC – shown here) became a permanent part of the BSO. In August 2019, Burton led the BSCC and BSO in the world premiere of his composition The Lost Words, a BSO co-commission based on the book of the same name by Robert Macfarlane (standing left), which resurrects nature words removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. (Photo by Hilary Scott) 

19. BSO/GHO Alliance Unites Two Great Cities through Two Great Orchestras


The BSO and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig Alliance, launched in 2017 and curated by Andris Nelsons, who directs both orchestras, is a multidimensional collaboration exploring each ensemble's unique music-making and the historical traditions and accomplishments that unite them. From musician exchanges to tour performances in each other’s home concert halls, to sharing commissions and recording projects, this alliance has shown the beauty that can be shared and enjoyed when working together toward a common goal, with music as the universal language. The ensembles new ground in November 2019 with the first-ever joint BSO/GHO concerts at Symphony Hall. The connections between the players of both ensembles goes well beyond the stage, as countless social events including bike tours and soccer matches, like the one shown here, amplify the camaraderie between two leading orchestras with one common director. (Photo by Sam Brewer) 

18. Return to European Touring Amplifies the BSO’s Reputation Worldwide


With Andris Nelsons’ arrival in Boston in 2014, the American music scene experienced a personality who made waves across Europe as one of the art form’s most sought after conductors. To round out his inaugural year, Nelsons mounted his first tour with the BSO to major European festivals, and the BSO’s first such tour in nearly a decade, in late summer 2015. The eight-city excursion featured stops in the music capitals of Austria, England (at the Royal Albert Hall in London for BBC Proms, shown here), France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and trumpet virtuoso Håkan Hardenberger joined the BSO for several performances, which earned enthusiastic praise from the European media – no small compliment from a culture justifiably dedicated to its own venerable expression of the art form. (Photo by Benjamin Ealovega)

17. New Era for BSO Dawns with Arrival of Andris Nelsons as Music Director


The BSO forged a new chapter in its storied history in May 2013 by announcing Andris Nelsons as its 15th music director and its youngest in a century. Nelsons kicked off his tenure in 2014 with a gala Inaugural Concert, which was broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances and throughout the world on a variety of national networks. The orchestra’s captivating performance, coupled with Nelsons’ expressive and emotional style, gave audiences an exciting preview of many years of collaboration to come. Since then, Maestro Nelsons has made several Grammy Award-winning recordings with the BSO, led the orchestra on notable tours of Europe and East Asia, and initiated a historic alliance between the BSO and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, among many other accomplishments. The relationship was solidified by a contract extension with Nelsons that will continue the partnership through at least 2022. (Photo by Stu Rosner) 

16. Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra performs The Magic Flute


In 2012, the BSO and Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra (BYSO) formed an important new partnership for classical music in Boston, called “BYSO/BSO: Partnering for the Future.” The program offers joint performance opportunities for young musicians, audiences, and the wider community, while exploring innovative ways to continue to foster the future of classical music. In addition to BSO Family Concerts, the BSO and BYSO have collaborated to present new and unique family opera productions, including Mozart’s The Magic Flute in 2014 and 2019 (pictured above) Rossini’s Cinderella in 2016, and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in 2019. (Photo by Stu Rosner)  

15. Tanglewood’s Diamond Anniversary Distinguished by Ambitious Streaming Media Project


In celebration of Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary in 2012, the BSO released an unprecedented treasure trove of 75 historical recordings that traced the history of the festival from 1937, through works large-scale and small, performed by the leading artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. The free daily online streams were later available for purchase and offered music lovers around the globe a glimpse into the storied performance history of the famed music festival. Close to 430,000 listeners enjoyed concerts that had not been heard since the date of their original performances, and the project garnered considerable national and international press attention.  

14. Thomas Wilkins Appointed Germeshausen Youth and Family Concerts Conductor


Thomas Wilkins was announced as the BSO’s Germeshausen Youth and Family Concerts Conductor in February 2010, becoming the third person to hold the position since Harry Ellis Dickson revived the Youth Concerts in the late 1950s. When first joining the BSO team in 2010, Maestro Wilkins said, “In the process of giving music away, I don’t want to leave anybody behind. From just a purely musical standpoint, it is about counting the second graders and third graders and fourth graders and fifth graders as people who do indeed count. And they deserve this music as well.” Since then, Maestro Wilkins has planned and conducted dozens of concerts at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, facilitated numerous in-school workshops throughout the Greater Boston area, and has also been appointed as the BSO’s Artistic Advisor of Education and Community Engagement. (Photo by Aram Boghosian)

13. Pops Mark 125th Season with Commission of Star-Studded "The Dream Lives On"


The Boston Pops celebrated their 125th season and the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's inauguration by commissioning award-winning composer Peter Boyer and lyricist Lynn Ahrens to create The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers. The moving piece drew a sellout crowd to Symphony Hall for its premiere on May 18, 2010 with acclaimed actors Robert De Niro, Ed Harris, and Morgan Freeman bringing the words of John, Robert, and Edward Kennedy to life against a stirring orchestral score. It was repeated to another full house the following night at the annual Presidents at Pops corporate fundraising event that raised $923,000 for the BSO and its education and community engagement programs. The work was also televised in its entirety on WVCB-TV's Chronicle, with a live recording released on CD and digital download at the BSO's Digital Music Store. (Photo by Josh Reynolds) 

12. The Launch of $20 Under 40 Program


The BSO has long understood that to sustain and build audiences, we must not only connect listeners to the music, but provide options that make the orchestra accessible to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. In the 2008-09 season, thanks to an anonymous donor, the BSO launched a new program: $20 tickets for patrons under 40 years of age. This initiative brought nearly 6,400 new audience members in this age group to Symphony Hall for the first time. The program still exists, now as "$25 under 40," and the BSO built off the success of this initiative with other offerings like Casual Fridays. This lower-priced concert series invites audiences to wear casual attire and enjoy a pre-performance reception, an instrument playground, and a post-concert gathering. The photo above shows one such Casual Friday performance, which included Conductor Cam seating, allowing patrons to watch the conductor from the orchestra's perspective. (Photo by Liza Voll)

11. America’s Orchestra Celebrates America’s Birthday with 35th Annual July 4 Concert


Founded by legendary Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler and philanthropist David Mugar, the rousing Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on Boston’s Charles River Esplanade celebrated its 35th anniversary on July 4, 2008. Always a highlight of summertime in Boston and on TV across America, the gala anniversary event drew nearly 500,000 people to the Hatch Shell for a lively show hosted by comedian and TV personality Craig Ferguson and featuring country music superstars Rascal Flatts. The event was viewed by nearly 7 million people during the live national broadcast on CBS and was the most-watched show in its time slot, further confirming the Pops’ well-earned status as "America’s Orchestra." (Photo by Stu Rosner)

10. Tanglewood Music Center and Festival of Contemporary Music Shape the Future of the Art Form


Founded in 1940 by legendary BSO Music Director Serge Koussevitzky, the Tanglewood Music Center (TMC) is the BSO’s summer music academy for emerging professional instrumentalists, singers, conductors, and composers. TMC alumni play a vital role in the musical life of the nation – among America’s five largest orchestras, 27% of all players and 30% of first-chair players studied at the TMC. The program’s dedication to the future of the art form also shines bright in its long history of commissioning and performing new works, especially through the Festival of Contemporary Music, which provides opportunities for TMC Fellows to create inspiring and enlightening performances while working closely with some of the leading composers of our time. Among years of highlights of hundreds of new pieces, one landmark moment was the first United States stage production of Elliott Carter’s opera What Next?, performed by TMC Vocal Fellows in 2006. (Photo by Hilary Scott) 

9. Honoring Those Lost in 9/11: The Boston Pops Play Super Bowl XXXVI


The Boston Pops has earned its nickname "America’s Orchestra" by supplying the musical backdrop for some of the country’s landmark moments. Months after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Keith Lockhart and the Pops played the opening ceremonies for Super Bowl XXXVI, which honored those lost in the terrorist attack, performing “America the Beautiful” with singers Mary J. Blige and Marc Anthony, and "Fanfare for the Common Man." A pre-recorded video of Aaron Copland’s "A Lincoln Portrait" also paired the Pops with narration by Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Regan, George H. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Soon after the Pops’ performance, the hometown New England Patriots went on to win their first of six Super Bowl titles. (Photo by Jimmy Cribb)

8. The BSO’s Artistic Initiative Begins


The 2004-2005 season marked the start of the Artistic Initiative, a campaign raising new endowment funds to support an energizing and unprecedented phase of artistic growth. Through the Artistic Initiative, the BSO engaged in new projects that furthered the musical excellence of the orchestra and enhanced the concert experience for local, national, and international audiences. Donors’ contributions to the campaign supported expanded rehearsal time and supplemental players, allowing the BSO to produce inspiring performances of rarely performed large-scale works, engage the world's finest visiting artists, and institute a new approach to music preparation. One project that came out of the Artistic Initiative was the performance of Berlioz's Les Troyens, an opera on an astonishing scope and scale, at the opening of the 2008 Tanglewood season (pictured above - photo by Hilary Scott). 

7. Complete Organ Renovation Highlights Symphony Hall Upgrades


Symphony Hall's historic Aeolian-Skinner organ is the largest and most complex instrument the BSO owns. After more than a year of work, the BSO completed a full renovation of the organ in 2004, including the removal of more than 5,000 pipes – most which are usually hidden from view – to refurbish the massive organ chamber completely. Of equal importance was the establishment of a permanently endowed fund for the organ’s care, enabling the BSO to undertake necessary cleaning and maintenance on a regular basis. This, and many other restorations to Symphony Hall in and around the auditorium, have continued to improve the concert-going experience for Symphony Hall’s many visitors. (Photo by Peter Vanderwarker)

6. Expanding Online Engagement and Programming


The BSO’s online offerings increased significantly in the early years of Mark’s tenure with the creation of the BSO Online Conservatory, a set of interactive modules on that invited audiences to engage more deeply with certain programs throughout each season. One piece featured in the Online Conservatory was Wynton Marsalis’ All Rise, which audiences could learn more about online through video interviews with Wynton, audio clips of the piece, historical lessons on jazz and the blues, and coaching to help them write their own blues compositions. 

5. Healing After September 11: An American Salute


In response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Seiji Ozawa, Keith Lockhart, the BSO, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood Festival Chorus joined forces to present “An American Salute,” featuring music celebrating the American spirit, on October 22, 2001 at Symphony Hall. WCVB-TV Channel 5 taped the program for broadcast in place of the traditional “Evening at Symphony” show. All funds raised by the telecast were donated to the Unity Fund of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, which provided support to families in Eastern Massachusetts who were affected by the September 11 tragedy. (Photo by Michael Lutch)

4. Symphony Hall Celebrates 100 Years


During the 2000-2001 season, the BSO celebrated the centennial of Symphony Hall and its world-renowned acoustics, as well as its contributions to Boston’s history. The season opened with the designation of the hall as a National Historic Landmark, an unprecedented twelve-hour Open House, a gala concert, and an elegant ball (pictured above) with special surprises, including a joint piano performance by Keith Lockhart, John Williams, and Seiji Ozawa. A comprehensive exhibit extending throughout the building was created to document the rich legacy of the building, and portions of it remain in the hall today. During this special year, the orchestra also furthered the tradition of Symphony Hall as a community gathering space, sponsoring a series of free concerts on Saturday afternoons that showcased various musical genres and welcomed new audiences to the hall. (Photo by Miro Vintoniv)

3. Celebrating a New Century with the World at The Eiffel Tower Concert


Following the 1999-2000 subscription season, Music Director Seiji Ozawa and the BSO traveled to Europe, performing Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony and Messiaen’s Turangalîla-symphonie in Paris and Cologne. The highlight of the tour was the BSO’s appearance in the first free concert at the foot of the Eiffel Tower on May 5, 2000, part of Paris’ 2000 Millenium Celebration. An ecstatic audience of 350,000 attended this historic performance, for which Maestro Ozawa and the orchestra were joined by tenor Andrea Bocelli, the Orchestre de Paris, and a chorus of 600. (Photo by Angelique Clement/Mairie de Paris) 

2. Recording "Saving Private Ryan" at Symphony Hall


While directing Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg said he wanted to collaborate with the BSO on the soundtrack because the film portrays a "company of soldiers," and the orchestra was an "experienced company of musicians." The BSO and Tanglewood Festival Chorus recorded the album at Symphony Hall in 1998, and the soundtrack, composed by John Williams, won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television. This photo shows Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Maestro Williams during a recording session on February 21, 1998. (Photo by Michael Lutch) 

1. BSO Welcomes Mark at His First Opening Night at Symphony


After extensive experience leading the Minnesota, Baltimore, and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, Mark was named the eighth Managing Director of the BSO in 1997, and was welcomed at Opening Night at Symphony that fall. Beyond Mark’s arrival, it was an evening of milestones, including the start of Seiji Ozawa's 25th season as BSO Music Director and baritone Bryn Terfel’s BSO debut. Joined by a full house of concertgoers, Ozawa, Terfel, and the orchestra performed operatic excerpts from Mozart and Wagner, while the gala benefit event raised more than $300,000 for the BSO. This photo, taken at the post-concert reception, features (l-r) Gala Benefactor Chairs Ann and Peter Brooke, BSO Board President Nicholas Zervas (who was instrumental in bringing Mark to the BSO), Ozawa, Mark, and Martha Volpe. (Photo by Miro Vintoniv)