GREAT PERFORMANCES – BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: ANDRIS NELSONS INAUGURAL CONCERT

Boston Symphony Orchestra: Andris Nelsons Inaugural Concert Featuring The Conductor’s First Concert as BSO Music Director Airs on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances Friday, May 29 at 9 p.m. on PBS

Soprano Kristine Opolais and Tenor Jonas Kaufmann join Nelsons for an eclectic program of operatic and orchestral masterworks

Andris Nelson conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his ingural concert as music Director, 9/27/14. Photo by Chris Lee

Andris Nelson conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his ingural concert as music Director, 9/27/14. Photo by Chris Lee

Last September’s gala event celebrating the start of BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons’ tenure with the orchestra features two of the conductor’s close colleagues: his wife, the acclaimed Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais, and the outstanding German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, each singing selections from the Wagnerian and Italian verismo repertoires.  The Great Performances special, Boston Symphony Orchestra: Andris Nelsons Inaugural Concert, airsFriday, May 29 at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)

Born in Riga in 1978 into a family of musicians, Andris Nelsons began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying conducting. He married fellow Latvian Opalais in 2011 at the Latvian National Opera when Nelsons was principal conductor, and she a member of the company, and they have a daughter.

The concert opens fittingly with Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture—the work that first inspired a five-year-old Nelsons to a life in music—and closes with Respighi’s spectacular orchestral showcase, Pines of Rome. The program selections shine a special focus on this exciting new collaboration between conductor and orchestra, and also include Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, with Opolais; and the Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana.

Kaufmann and Opolais—both frequent Nelsons collaborators—join in a performance of the famous duet “Tu, tu, amore? Tu?” from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.  Each singer takes center stage for solo arias, with Opolais singing “Un bel di” from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. When Kaufmann returns to the stage he sings two beloved tenor selections: the title character’s magical third-act narrative, “In fernem Land,” from Wagner’s Lohengrin, and the dramatic aria, “Mamma, quel vino è generoso,” from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana.

Andris Nelson conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his ingural concert as music Director, 9/27/14. Photo by Chris Lee

Andris Nelson conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his inaugural concert as music Director, 9/27/14. Photo by Chris Lee

Jonas Kaufmann and Andris Nelsons as seen in "Great Performances – Boston Symphony Orchestra: Andris Nelsons Inaugural Concert." Photo by Chris Lee

Jonas Kaufmann and Andris Nelsons as seen in “Great Performances – Boston Symphony Orchestra: Andris Nelsons Inaugural Concert.” Photo by Chris Lee

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PBS’S AMERICAN MASTERS 2015 SEASON AIRS AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE: A HISTORY

Ric Burns’ New Documentary American Ballet Theatre: A History Premieres Nationwide on THIRTEEN’s American Masters Series Friday, May 15 on PBS in Honor of the Company’s 75th Anniversary

THIRTEEN’s American Masters series teams up with Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns to co-produce a new documentary about the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in honor of its 75th anniversary.

American Masters – American Ballet Theatre: A History premieres nationwide Friday, May 15, 2015 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and delving into the rich history of one of the world’s preeminent ballet companies, Burns combines intimate rehearsal footage, virtuoso performances and interviews with American Ballet Theatre’s key figures: artists pivotal to the company’s formation, including Alicia Alonso and the late Donald Saddler and Frederic Franklin; contemporary luminaries, including dancers Susan Jaffe and Julie Kent, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky and artistic director Kevin McKenzie; past and present stars Misty Copeland, Gillian Murphy, Marcelo Gomes and Hee Seo; dance historian and author Jennifer Homans; and prominent dance critics Anna Kisselgoff and the late Clive Barnes.

Alicia Alonso in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by Maurice Seymour

Alicia Alonso in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by Maurice Seymour

The story of American Ballet Theatre, and the breathtaking rise of dance in the U.S. over the last three-quarters of a century, is one of the most inspiring stories in the cultural world,” says Burns. “Ballet is the most poignantly ephemeral and expressive of all the arts, both earthbound and transcendent. And ABT, indisputably one of the greatest dance companies in the world, has torn down an incredible number of barriers, welcoming choreographers of every kind and dancers from around the world.

American Ballet Theatre’s Corps de Ballet in “La Bayadere.” Credit: Photo by Buddy Squires

American Ballet Theatre’s Corps de Ballet in “La Bayadere.” Credit: Photo by Buddy Squires

Gillian Murphy warming up for the Black Swan variation in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Gillian Murphy warming up for the Black Swan variation in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Gillian Murphy receives last minute coaching from Kevin McKenzie and Clinton Luckett. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Gillian Murphy receives last minute coaching from Kevin McKenzie and Clinton Luckett. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) is recognized as one of the great dance companies in the world. Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope, and outreach. Recognized as a living national treasure since its founding in 1940, ABT is the only major cultural institution that annually tours the United States, performing for more than 450,000 people. The company has also made more than 30 international tours to 43 countries as perhaps the most representative American ballet company and has been sponsored by the State Department of the United States on many of these engagements.

When American Ballet Theatre was launched in autumn 1939, the aim was to develop a repertoire of the best ballets from the past and to encourage the creation of new works by gifted young choreographers, wherever they might be found. Under the direction of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith from 1940-1980, the company more than fulfilled that aim. ABT’s repertoire, perhaps unmatched in the history of ballet, includes all of the great full-length ballets of the 19th century, such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, the finest works from the early part of the 20th century, such as Apollo, Les Sylphides, Jardin aux Lilas and Rodeo, and acclaimed contemporary masterpieces such as Airs, Push Comes to Shove and Duets. In acquiring such an extraordinary repertoire, ABT has commissioned works by all of the great choreographic geniuses of the 20thcentury: George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp, among others.

In 1980, Mikhail Baryshnikov became artistic director of American Ballet Theatre, succeeding Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith. Under his leadership, numerous classical ballets were staged, restaged and refurbished, and the company experienced a strengthening and refining of the classical tradition. In 1990, Jane Hermann and Oliver Smith succeeded Baryshnikov and immediately established an agenda that was dedicated to maintaining the great traditions of the past while aggressively pursuing a vital and innovative future.

In October 1992, former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Kevin McKenzie was appointed artistic director. McKenzie, steadfast in his vision of ABT as “American,” is committed to maintaining the company’s vast repertoire, and to bringing the art of dance theater to the great stages of the world.

Over its 75-year history, the company has appeared in a total of 136 cities in 45 countries and has appeared in all 50 states of the United States. In keeping with ABT’s long-standing commitment to bring the finest in dance to the widest international audience, the company has recently enjoyed triumphant successes with engagements in Abu Dhabi, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Havana, Tokyo and Beijing. On April 27, 2006, by an act of Congress, American Ballet Theatre became America’s National Ballet Company®.

Isabella Boylston, Joseph Gorak and Thomas Forster executing a variation during class. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Isabella Boylston, Joseph Gorak and Thomas Forster executing a variation during class. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

As we approach our 75th year, it is a tremendous honor to have Ric Burns and American Masters illuminate ABT’s history in such a rich and meaningful way,” said Rachel Moore, CEO of American Ballet Theatre. “I am certain the expertise and care Ric and his team have devoted to this film will offer a fresh perspective on our art form and serve as a fitting testament to this cultural institution.

In 2007, Misty Copeland made history by becoming the third African-American female soloist and first in two decades at American Ballet Theatre. She is interviewed and performs in Ric Burns’ new documentary “American Masters: American Ballet Theatre.” Credit: Jade Young

In 2007, Misty Copeland made history by becoming the third African-American female soloist and first in two decades at American Ballet Theatre. She is interviewed and performs in Ric Burns’ new documentary “American Masters: American Ballet Theatre.” Credit: Jade Young

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Pop-Tarts® Transforms Los Angeles’ Own Hollywood & Highland Into Epic PB&J Obstacle Course On National Peanut Butter And Jelly Day

Pop-Tarts Turned to Teen Fans for Ideas on How to Celebrate New PB&J Flavor

In honor of the irresistible new Frosted PB&J Strawberry flavor,Pop-Tarts unveiled a larger-than-life PB&J-filled celebration in Los Angeles during yesterday’s unofficial “National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day”. After asking teens for their Crazy Good ideas on how to celebrate the newest flavor. the company received–and had– a lot of out-of-the-box ideas to choose from. One teen wanted a gingerbread house made entirely out of PB&J Pop-Tarts. Another suggested a PB&J-fueled karaoke machine. In the end, 16-year old Gabrielle Johnson’s idea of a PB&J slippery slide broke through as the winner. Pop-Tarts created a massive PB&J filled obstacle course that included a 36-foot slippery slide into a pool of peanut butter at the Hollywood & Highland shopping center yesterday, where teens ran the course and got more than their fill of peanut butter and jelly. Over 9,000 pounds of peanut butter, peanut oil and strawberry jam were used to bring it to life.

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The event also had PB&J Pop-Tarts sampling stations and a celebrity meet-and-greet. Pretty Little Liars actress, Janel Parrish surprised the crowd as the official Pop-Tarts PB&J Day Celebration Guest of Honor.

PB&J was one of our most requested flavors, and we knew we had to go big or go home, which is why we turned to our die-hard teen fans,” said Aleta Chase, director of marketing for Pop-Tarts. “So, we teamed up with teen social media superstars to encourage their followers to tell us how they’d celebrate the newest Gone Nutty!flavor… and we were not disappointed!

It’s so cool that Pop-Tarts has made my PB&J slippery slide a reality,” said Gabrielle Johnson. “I love the new PB&J Pop-Tarts, and every time I have one, I will remember this day.”

Made with real peanut butter and strawberry jelly-flavored filling, new Frosted PB&J Strawberry Pop-Tarts are available at retailers nationwide. To learn more about the new flavor and to see how Pop-Tarts brings teens epic experiences all year long, visit PopTartsCrazyGood.com.