It's a special day for the Boston Symphony Orchestra: music director Andris Nelsons and the BSO open their new 2017-18 season and Mark Volpe enters his 20th year as managing director of the BSO. Volpe joined WGBH's Morning Edition to discuss what's ahead for the BSO. 

The BSO is dedicating this season to the celebration of the centennial of conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein, who was born in 1918 in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

"He's one of the iconic figures, one of the wonderful aspects of his career is his association with the New York Philharmonic where he was the music director, but he was born and raised here, he went to Boston Latin School, he went to Harvard, and launched his professional career at Tanglewood," Volpe said of the 20th century composer. 

There's a bit of confusion about how to pronounce Bernstein's last name. Some say "Bern-STY-n" while others say "Bern-STEE-n." To clear this up, Volpe went with the former pronunciation, noting that the composer usually introduced himself as "Lenny." 

According to Volpe, Bernstein had a 50-year relationship with Tanglewood, having been in the first conducting class in 1940.

"From there, he was so loyal ... other than couple of summers during the war ... he was there every summer working with the students and getting energized," Volpe said. 

In addition to the centennial celebration, Volpe said the BSO is initiating a series of partnerships with various community organizations, starting with local schools and social service agencies in Jamaica Plain. To kick this off, the BSO will be partnering with the Boston Pops to hold a free concert at Franklin Park on Oct. 1.

"We thought what a kick it'd be to go to Franklin Park and not only have Andris conduct Mahler, but to have Keith Lockhart come and conduct some of the great John Williams tunes," Volpe said. "And then Thomas Wilkins, who's our youth conductor and probably one of the most prominent African-American conductors working today, will be doing a few pieces, including a piece by William Grant Still, probably the preeminent African-American composer."

As Volpe celebrates his 20th anniversary as managing director of the BSO, he says it has been a privilege to work with what he calls the "most complex and most diverse orchestra in the world."

"You have the Boston Symphony, you have the Boston Pops ... you have Tanglewood, you have the school at Tanglewood," he said. "We serve many, many roles in the community. It's the largest scale operation of any orchestra in the world."

To listen to Mark Volpe's entire interview with WGBH's Morning Edition, click on the audio player above.