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Conductor Giancarlo Guerrero leads the BSO in the orchestra’s traditional season-ending performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on Sunday, August 25, 2018. The 2019 Tanglewood season opens this weekend, with classical programming beginning in July.

Summer Music Festival Season is About to Begin

by Stephen DanknerGuest Column
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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.

This Tanglewood season will see Boston Symphony Music Director Andris Nelsons in residence throughout the month of July, leading 14 programs, including a first for Tanglewood — a concert performance of Wagner’s complete Die Walküre with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and a star-studded cast, presented in three concerts over a two-day period, July 27 and 28. Tanglewood will also be the setting for the BSO's Nelsons-led world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts' "The Brightness of Light," a work for voices and orchestra inspired by letters between Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. It was composed especially for Renée Fleming and Rod Gilfry, who will be the featured soloists. Fleming, a favorite guest artist at Tanglewood since her BSO debut there in 1991, has been named the Koussevitzky Artist for the 2019 Tanglewood season.

The BSO and Andris Nelsons open the Orchestra’s summer season on Friday, July 5, with Mahler's Symphony No. 5 and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 22, with Emanuel Ax as soloist — the first of twenty BSO programs taking place throughout July and August.

Marking a major milestone in the history and life of Tanglewood and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the 2019 Tanglewood season will see the launch of the Tanglewood Learning Institute (TLI), offering participants new levels of wide-ranging enrichment and education initiatives, and the opening of a major new four-building Center for Music and Learning, home to the TLI's summer programming and supporting the activities of the Tanglewood Music Center, the BSO’s acclaimed summer music academy since 1940. These new buildings will be Tanglewood's first year-round facilities available for event and concert use by the BSO, the Berkshire community and beyond, beginning in the fall 2019.


Concerts at Tannery Pond

Route 20, New Lebanon, N.Y.

Five Saturday concerts will be held: June 15, July 6, July 27 and Aug. 24, all at 8 p.m., and Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. Featured performers include the Naumberg Trio, with piano violin, cello; Stephen Hough, piano solo; Juho Pohjonen, piano solo; the Miró String Quartet; Todd Palmer, clarinet; the Omer String Quartet; and others.


Taconic Music Festival

Manchester, Vt.

The third summer festival runs from June 17 through July 1, with concerts on June 23, June 29 and 30, July 7, and July 13 and 14. Masterclasses are held June 26 and July 9 and open dress rehearsals are June 22 and 29 and July 13.

The third festival season encompasses four festival concerts featuring Taconic Music faculty and guest artists, and two NextGen concerts performed by string piano students from Taconic’s Chamber Music Intensive (CMI), all taking place at Burr and Burton's Riley Center for the Arts in Manchester Village. Two masterclasses with world-renowned violinists will be held in beautiful Manchester homes open to the public. A special benefit concert at Dionondehowa Wildlife Preserve and School in Shushan (N.Y.), featuring TM students and faculty, rounds out the festival.

Taconic Music Festival concerts take place at 4 p.m. on Sundays, June 23 and 30 and July 7 and 14. This year, among the acclaimed guest artists and ensembles are The Indianapolis Quartet, Van Cliburn prizewinning pianist Davide Cabassi, guitarist Nemanja Ostojić, violist Basil Vendryes and clarinetist Paul Green. NextGen concerts are held at 4 p.m. on Saturdays, June 29 and July 13, and showcase string quartets and piano quintets. Saturday-morning open dress rehearsals at 10:30 a.m. on June 22, 29, July 6 and 13, offer a behind-the-scenes look at the music-making process.

Afternoon masterclasses, which take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday June 26, and Tuesday, July 9, allow the audience to experience first-hand how chamber music is refined and brought to a whole new level. A visiting artist will work with CMI student groups in front of an audience, offering insights on interpretation and style.


Sevenars Concerts

Route 112, South Worthington, Mass

Six concerts will be held on Sundays at 4 p.m. from July 14 through Aug. 18. Admission is by suggested donation (suggested $20 per person), by cash or check at the door.  No tickets or reservations are required or accepted. Complimentary refreshments are offered at intermission.


Marlboro Music

Off Route 9, Marlboro, Vt.

Twelve weekend chamber music and vocal concert performances will be held from July 13 through Aug. 11. Open rehearsals runs from July 8 through Aug. 12.


Music Mountain

Music Mountain Road, Falls Village, Conn.

The 90th anniversary festival season runs from June 9 through Sept. 22. The classical series is Sundays from June 9 through Aug. 31, featuring 12 weekly string quartet programs.

In subsequent weeks, check out Classical Beat for more detailed information and updates to these and other area music festival listings. Here's wishing you a great and enjoyable music festival season. Happy listening!


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Great Music and More at Tanglewood, Sevenars, Berkshire High Peaks Festival

By Stephen DanknerGuest Column

As Tanglewood enters its third week, stellar performances will take center stage in Ozawa Hall and in the Koussevitsky Shed. Why go? To experience world-class instrumental soloists, the Boston Symphony and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra perform chamber and orchestral masterworks by iconic masters Schumann, Brahms, Ravel, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Debussy, Gershwin, Stravinsky, Wagner and Tchaikovsky.

Add to the above an inspiring world premiere featuring Metropolitan Opera diva Reneé Fleming, baritone Rod Gilfry, and the Boston Symphony, led by maestro Andris Nelsons in composer Kevin Puts' orchestral song cycle "The Brightness of Light." The powerful and deeply moving "Enigma" Variations of Edward Elgar will precede this extraordinary performance.

And, if the offerings at Tanglewood aren't enough to pique your musical interest, there are also outstanding performances to be enjoyed at the Sevenars Music Festival in South Worthington, Mass., and at the Berkshire High Peaks Music Festival, presented by Close Encounters With Music in Great Barrington, Mass., in a series of concerts from July 23 through Aug. 2. All three venues present great music performed in acoustically resonant settings by marvelous performers. Read below for all the details.


On Friday, July 19, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will present its first-ever free community event on the Pittsfield Common. "Tanglewood in the City: Pittsfield" is a live video transmission of the BSO's concert at Tanglewood that will bring Tanglewood into the Pittsfield community and share one of the festival's major performances with a wider group of Berkshire residents. The performance, which will be transmitted onto a 15-foot by 27-foot screen on the Pittsfield Common, will begin with welcoming comments from a BSO musician and feature BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons leading the orchestra in music of Betsy Jolas, Debussy and Ravel, as well as Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with soloist Gautier Capuçon.

The Pittsfield event is inspired by the popular Boston edition of "Tanglewood in the City." Now in its fourth year, this year's "Tanglewood in the City: Boston" event takes place on the Boston Common, also on Friday, July 19.

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