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James Levine Pulls Out of Boston Symphony Season

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The Boston Symphony Orchestra said on Tuesday that James Levine, its music director, will miss the remainder of the orchestra's season as a result of the back problems that have plagued him for months.

In a statement the the orchestra blamed the "ill effects from a recent procedure addressing his ongoing back issues, further complicated by a viral infection."

Last week, Levine pulled out of Boston performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 and was replaced by assistant conductor Sean Newhouse.

The cancellation means that the orchestra must scramble to find substitute conductors not only in Boston but also for an upcoming East Coast tour to Carnegie Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Kennedy Center.

Levine is still scheduled to lead upcoming performances of Das Rheingold at the Metropolitan Opera, where he is also music director.

The conductor's health issues are source of ongoing concern in the classical music field. At a press conference on Feb. 16, Levine maintained that he is in improving health. "I feel very good when I'm in whatever position I'm in," Levine said. "But the first minute or two of walking from here to there is a bit different every day."

Levine had back surgery in April 2010 and missed the BSO's 2010 summer season at Tanglewood. He is in his seventh season with the orchestra.