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'John Williams' Film Night' showcases the Boston Pops and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Chorus. (Hilary Scott, BSO photo)

Tanglewood Presents Powerhouse Programs

By Stephen DanknerGuest Column
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Andris Nelson leads a program Friday night on 'Why Music Matters.'

This week, Tanglewood continues its high energy 2018 classical season with a powerhouse pair of programs performed by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (TMCO) and the Boston Pops, with guest artists the TMC vocal Fellows and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) Young Artists Chorus.

The "heavy hitters" are John Williams' "Film Night" - always an audience favorite event and a high point of each year's Tanglewood offerings - led by Mr. Williams and Boston Symphony maestro Andris Nelsons. Conductor Stefan Asbury directs a TMCO instrumental chamber ensemble accompanying the TMC vocal Fellows in a concert version of Leonard Bernstein's thought-provoking opera "A Quiet Place."


• Thursday, Aug. 9, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: Maestro Stefan Asbury leads the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and Tanglewood Music Center Vocal Fellows, and TMC Alumni Dominik Belavy and Ryne Cherry in a fully staged performance of Leonard Bernstein's opera "A Quiet Place." Peter Kazaras directs the performance and features scenic design by Laura Jellinek, costume design by Terese Wadden, and lighting design by Barbara Samuels. Conceived as a sequel to Bernstein's 1952 one-act opera "Trouble in Tahiti," (performed in Ozawa Hall on July 12), and presented here in a recent new version for chamber orchestra by Garth Edwin Sutherland, "A Quiet Place" - Bernstein's final work for the stage - was originally premiered in 1983 on a double bill with "Trouble in Tahiti."

• Friday, Aug. 10, 7 p.m. in the Shed: Maestro Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra will present a unique, hour-long program titled "Why Music Matters - According to Ludwig and Lenny." Designed especially for young audiences and their families, the program is inspired by Leonard Bernstein's pioneering work as a fabulous educator through his landmark series of televised "Young People's Concerts" with the New York Philharmonic (originally broadcast from 1958-1972) that introduced classical music to millions of listeners. Following in the tradition of her father, Jamie Bernstein will be the evening’s host and presenter. The repertoire includes excerpts from Beethoven classics: Symphony No. 5, Symphony No. 9, the "Leonore" Overture No. 3 and Bernstein's own "Symphonic Dances" from "West Side Story" and the "Meditations" from "Mass," for cello and orchestra. The cellist will be 18-year-old Michael Arumainayagam, one of the Fidelity Investments Young Artist Competition winners who performed with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops this past June at Symphony Hall.

• Saturday, Aug. 11, "John Williams' Film Night" 8 p.m. in the Shed: One of Tanglewood's most popular summer traditions, "John Williams' Film Night" showcases the Boston Pops and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Chorus. For the second year, Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams shares the podium with BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons. Maestro Nelsons leads the first half of the concert, which features Leonard Bernstein’s music from the multi-Academy Award-winning film "On the Waterfront," as well as other classic musical selections from Hollywood, including "The Sea Hawk," "Sunset Boulevard," "Psycho" and "A Place in the Sun." The second half of the program will feature Mr. Williams leading music excerpted from his own scores: “Superman,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Amistad” and “Star Wars.”

• Sunday, Aug. 12, 2:30 p.m. in the Shed: San Francisco Symphony Music Director and former BSO Assistant Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas returns to Tanglewood, where in 1969 he won the Koussevitzky Music Prize as a conducting student of Leonard Bernstein. To open the program, he leads the BSO in his own composition, "Agnegram," a 1998 work that is alternately jazzy, humorous and elegant. Following, the brilliant young Russian pianist Igor Levit takes center stage for Sergei Rachmaninoff’s virtuosic, glittering and masterfully composed "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini." Maestro Thomas will conclude the concert with a performance of Gustav Mahler's vigorously energetic and stupendous Symphony No. 1. Mahler's music, long out of favor, was decisively championed throughout Leonard Bernstein’s conducting career. In the years since, Mahler's symphonies have become among the most favored by audiences worldwide.

• Monday, Aug. 13, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons leads the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra once again, and is joined by TMC Conducting Fellows in a program featuring two 20th-century masterpieces: Franz Schreker's (1878-1934) Chamber Symphony for 23 instruments, a 1916 work that epitomizes the composer's comprehensive mastery of instrumental colors (Schreker was a prominent early 20th century Viennese opera composer and music professor) and Lutosławski's “Chantefleurs et Chantefables,” a song cycle for soprano and orchestra set to poems of the French surrealist poet Robert Desnos (1900-1945). Concluding the program will be Haydn’s droll Symphony No. 97, the fifth of the prolific Austrian Classical master's "London" symphonies.

• Tuesday, Aug. 14, 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall: The TMC Vocal Fellows will perform a vocal/piano recital featuring music by composer Alan Smith "To the Muse," John Harbison (b. 1938) "Flashes and Illuminations," Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) "Canticle V," Shawn Jaeger "In Old Virginny," Swiss composer Frank Martin (1890-1974) "Four Sonnets to Cassandra" and Shostakovich (1906-1975) "From Jewish Folk Poetry."

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Summer Music Festival Season is About to Begin

by Stephen DanknerGuest Column

After a particularly severe and brutally cold winter, the upcoming seasonal musical offerings will be balm to both popular music and classical aficionados, who, each June, anticipate the feast of music these diverse festivals and series present.

These are the music festivals that make our locality a cultural capital, drawing thousands to hear great music – popular, classical chamber, symphony, choral, opera, musical theater, contemporary classical, et al – to experience legendary artists perform masterworks within the verdant hills and dales of the Berkshires and southwestern Vermont we call home.

For this first week of Classical Beat, here's a capsule preview of six of the region's finest festivals. Each festival may be reached via the listed phone or website to obtain schedule information, purchase tickets and more.


Tanglewood Music Festival

297 West St., Lenox, Mass.

The 2019 Tanglewood season, which runs June 15 through Labor Day weekend, will be a summer of major events and game-changing milestones, alongside the kind of musical offerings that have been at the heart of Tanglewood's history of presenting concerts since 1937. One of the premier summer music festivals in the world and the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood is located in the beautiful Berkshire Hills, between Stockbridge and Lenox, Mass. Tickets for the 2019 Tanglewood season are on sale now.

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