Every year, from June to September, Both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra combine to become the largest Orchestra in the World, and re-homes itself to Tanglewood Music Centre for the Tanglewood summer festival season, an incredible summer of music that has become a Huge Boston tradition. Featuring an astounding collection of performances that range from Classical masters like Beethoven and Bach all featuring world class guest artists and conductors to the hugely popular Pop-music acts, Rock bands and icons in addition to Country singers and Broadway greats. Or catch a full film, chosen specifically for the score these range from Star Wars, or Harry Potter to Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, all with live orchestral accompaniment.
The BSO’s Tanglewood summer festival season presents a wide range of programs that spotlight favorite returning musicians and repertoire and introduce dynamic new performers and eclectic programming. Every season often includes world and American premieres, works by living composers, as well as fantastic artists making their Tanglewood or BSO debuts. Come and experience the BSO and Boston Pops, along with some of the most talented performers, conductors, and composers of our generation, for a summer of music in the lush Berkshire Hills.
The festival season often starts off with Classical masters like Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Barber, Ellington, Gershwin and many more all featuring the very best in guest instrumentalists and conductors, featuring the likes of pianist Aaron Diehl, trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger, violinist Itzhak Perlman, baritone Ryan McKinny, soprano Ying Fang and others. Guests on the podium include BSO Assistant Conductor Anna Rakitina, and bright shining star, Condutor JoAnn Faletta.
Grammy award winning Pop musicians, Rock bands, and solo stars perform alongside the BSO in the incredible Boston Pops series. Featuring the likes of Van Halen, Metallica, Bonnie Raitt and Judy Collins, onto Broadway stars performing selections from “West Side Story,” “Company” or “Sweeney Todd”, It’s a real mixed bag and you are guaranteed to find the perfect show for you.
Join Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops as they present classic films with live orchestral accompaniment. Battle for galaxies in Star Wars, defeat the Dark Lord in Harry Potter or fight off some orcs in The Lord of the Rings. All the movies are chosen because of their outstanding score, and you can expect there to be at least one John Williams film among them.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra can trace its festival roots at Tanglewood all the way back to 1937. In 1934, a group of music-loving Berkshire summer residents arranged for members of the New York Philharmonic to perform three outdoor concerts at Interlocken, it was so successful that it was repeated in 1935, and a Festival Committee was formed. The following year, 1936, the committee then invited Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra to take part. The orchestra’s Trustees accepted, and on August 13, 1936, the BSO gave its first concert in the Berkshires, at Holmwood. After the festival, Mrs. Gorham Brooks and Miss Mary Aspinwall Tappan offered Tanglewood, the Tappan family estate, with its buildings and 210 acres of lawns and meadows, as a gift to Koussevitzky and the orchestra, and the following year the very first Tanglewood concert, an all-Beethoven program was held. Today Tanglewood annually draws over 350,000 visitors. Each season offers not only a vast quantity of music, but also a vast range of musical forms and styles, all of it presented with a regard for artistic excellence that makes the festival unique, a truly fantastic way to spend your summer season.
The second oldest of the five major American symphony orchestras, referred to as the “Big Five”. Founded by Henry Lee Higginson in 1881, since its founding, the orchestra has had 17 music directors, including George Henschel, Serge Koussevitzky, Henri Rabaud, Erich Leinsdorf, William Steinberg and James Levine. Andris Nelsons is the current music director.
The Boston Pops Orchestra is the Boston Symphony Orchestra minus its principal players. It was founded in 1885, and plays lighter, more popular classics, and show tunes. Between 1930 and 1979 conductor Arthur Fiedler worked tirelessly at improving and increasing the fame of the Orchestra, he was succeeded by the famous film composer John Williams from 1980 to 1993. Since 1995, the conductor of the Boston Pops has been Keith Lockhart.
The Boston Symphony Chamber Players were launched in 1964, and today they are the only chamber ensemble composed of principal players from an American symphony orchestra. In addition to regular performances in Boston and Tanglewood, they have performed throughout the United States and Europe. They have also recorded for RCA Victor, DG, Philips, and Nonesuch.
Performing with the BSO and Boston Pops for major choral works is the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Organized in 1970 by its founding director, John Oliver, the Chorus comprises over 300 volunteer singers. Before the creation of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and for some time after, the BSO frequently employed the New England Conservatory Chorus conducted by Lorna Cooke DeVaron, Chorus Pro Musica, Harvard Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Society. In February 2017, the BSO announced the appointment of James Burton as the new conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and as the newly created BSO Choral Director.
“An unseasonably crisp Sunday afternoon in the Berkshires proved perfect weather for Tanglewood. It almost didn’t matter what the Boston Symphony Orchestra chose to perform: the feel of the cool breeze and the smell of fresh foliage was lovely enough on its own. But the audience came for a concert as much as they came to picnic and promenade, and the assembled forces delivered a thoughtful program that drew on music of the region, as well as Beethoven’s impending Sestercentennial.
The piquant flutes in the Allegro ma non troppo and woodwinds in the Andante molto mosso approximated birdsong with such verisimilitude that I wasn’t surprised to spot a sparrow flying briefly under the roof of the Koussevitzky Music Shed. Adès took a leisurely approach to these movements, with the music unfurling rather than hurtling forward, and the tactic seemed appropriate for a golden summer day. It also allowed him to highlight the strengths of BSO ranks – particularly the low strings that anchor the piece, who made their presence felt without overwhelming the gentle atmosphere.
Adès saved his bombast for fourth-movement Allegro, the “Thunderstorm,” which was so wonderfully charming when set against a beautiful clear backdrop. And he resolves the tension with a lovely, lilting Allegretto, which returned the audience to the idyllic world of a Massachusetts weekend. The fine overall performance put this listener in the mood for more Beethoven, which thankfully will not be in short supply across the next twelve months.”Review by Cameron Kelsall, August 2019