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Seiji Ozawa gets a hero's welcome back

After an illness, the famed Boston conductor receives a standing ovation at Tanglewood.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Seiji Ozawa received a hero’s welcome during his return to Tanglewood to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the first time since 2002.

A crowd of more than 10,000 that filled the Music Shed and much of the lawn gave the former BSO director a standing ovation Saturday night when he walked on stage to conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, the “Resurrection.”

He received a nearly six-minute ovation after the 90-minute performance by the BSO, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and soloists Heidi Grant Murphy and Nathalie Stutzmann.

Before acknowledging the crowd’s plaudits, Ozawa went around the front rows of the orchestra shaking hands with his former colleagues.

He was recalled with the soloists and chorus director John Oliver three times, each time calling on the orchestra and chorus to rise and share the ovations with him.

Ozawa, now the music director of the Vienna State Opera, led the BSO from 1973 to 2002, longer than any other conductor in the orchestra’s 125-year history. He is also the artistic director and founder of the Saito Kinen Festival, Japan’s music and opera festival.

He canceled his remaining season performances in February after being hospitalized with a bronchial infection and shingles that affected his vision. At the time, the 70-year-old conductor’s return to the BSO’s summer home at Tanglewood was already scheduled.