Andris Nelsons is the Boston Symphony Orchestra's long-awaited, newly-minted music director. His arrival marked a triumphant end to the BSO's two-year search for a new leader.

Nelsons came to Boston with an impressive pedigree. He led the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra since 2008. He did stints with the Latvian National Opera and the Northwest German Philharmonic. Nelsons also conducted the world's highest-caliber ensembles like the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera.

Nelsons joined up with the BSO by happenstance. Past director James Levine took ill before a BSO show at Carnegie Hall during an orchestra tour. Nelsons happened to be in New York at the time, and took the helm for a performance of Gustav Mahler's daunting Ninth Symphony.

That trial-by-fire bonded the charismatic Nelsons with the venerable BSO. He subsequently led the orchestra at Tanglewood and jumped on dates during the BSO's regular season as well.

Brian McCreath produces WCRB's Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops broadcasts. In an interview with Boston Public Radio, McCreath said Nelsons' musicality jumps right out of the studio speakers.

"I remember the first time I heard Andris Nelsons conduct. It was a radio broadcast I put on the air in 2009, and it blew me away," he said. "It was a concert recording from Europe, commercially unavailable, and he was conducting [Hector] Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique."

All this is surprising considering Nelsons' young age. His resumé resembles that of a grizzled, globe-trotting musical impresario of a certain age, but Nelsons is only 34.

"There's going to be a lot of youthful energy," McCreath said. "He's not a sort of one-trick pony. Nelsons has a real interpretive depth and integrity, and an extremely broad range [like] Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven."

Nelsons is the BSO's 15th music director in a lineage dating back to 1881. James Levine stepped down from his post as music director in 2011, and Boston's classical music audience has been rabid for a replacement since his departure. Music critic Lloyd Schwartz, a longtime observer of the Boston Symphony, wrote on the New York Arts website he liked the risk the BSO took with the young Nelsons.

"I’m certainly curious about someone whose music-making will seem like an adventure. I’m eager to hear more, to see where he goes," wrote Schwartz. 

Brian McCreath echoed Schwartz's optimism. "We've seen great chemistry with this orchestra and this conductor."

It may take some time before Boston audiences can get familiar with the new conductor. Nelsons will tackle Verdi's Requiem in July at Tanglewood. He'll also take the podium in Symphony Hall for a select number of shows in the 2013-'14 season, but his contract won't start in earnest until the following year. In the meantime, the orchestra will soldier on.

"[The BSO performs] at a level that is every bit as accomplished as, say, the Boston Bruins, every bit as accomplished as the Patriots or any other sports team in this town," McCreath said. "They do it week after week after week. It's remarkable to hear the energy coming out of the hall."

Boston has waited patiently for a glimpse at what the future of the BSO will look like. In due time, the city will have a chance.