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Tanglewood is the marquee venue in which to experience great performances across virtually the entire spectrum of musical genres and styles.

Musical Festival Season Appears on the Horizon

By Stephen DanknerSpecial to iBerkshires
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With the upcoming summer music festival season almost upon us, music lovers in droves will soon flock to the Berkshires, Franklin County and southern Vermont to immerse themselves in classical music. Call it a reward for enduring a long, hard winter, or a yearly renewal of the soul via the musical preachments of the great masters.
Whatever the reason, the classical canon, including a full summer's festival within a festival celebrating the wonderful music of Leonard Bernstein (it's his 100th birthday), will nurture and inspire us anew at this special time and in this magical place - the Berkshires and environs.

My goal, as your musical guide, will be to assist you in choosing venues to visit and performances to attend. Each week there will be "something to suit every taste," as the saying goes, but I will try, from mid-June through Labor Day, to highlight exceptional offerings that may pique your interest. Some performances will be offbeat or rare; others promise to be exceptional. I will provide the backstory in advance ("Why go?") to inspire you to attend these concerts.

On the topic of attending concerts, let me get on my soapbox for a moment. These days, with the technology available to download music at little or no cost, it’s more important than ever to support live music and musicians. As a result of the competition from digital media, live music is in trouble. Yes, it takes some time and effort to plan for, buy tickets and drive to the venue, rather than listening at home, in your car or while exercising. But it's worth it. The experience is so much better, both sonically and communally, than listening to music over iPad headphones, your computer's speakers or even over the best home stereo system or TV. Performers making the music before your very eyes and ears – that’s how music is ideally meant to be heard.

I hope you will plan on being stoked for what's ahead this summer: Go the extra mile, take the plunge and be in the moment. You'll be thrilled, and I think you'll ultimately agree that the concerts you will hear will be memorable; they might even be inspiring, healing, life affirming, high points of your life. Yes, live music can potentially deliver all that. And, by attending, you'll be supporting all the artistry and countless years of hard work that the musicians on stage have dedicated to mastering their art, for the sole purpose of keeping music alive and giving pleasure to you, the listener.


Tanglewood Music Festival: Pops and Classical

Tanglewood, in Lenox (this year dubbed "Bernstein Centennial Summer – Celebrating Lenny at Tanglewood") is the nation's largest and most prestigious summer music presenter. It officially opens its classical festival season on Sunday, July 1, but if you're a pop music fan, you'll want to attend many of the "Popular Artists Series" pre-season concerts. The PAS runs from June 15-29. Read below for the details.

Why go? Tanglewood is primarily known as the summer home of the Boston Symphony and the Tanglewood Music Center (TMC) – the BSO’s summer academy for young professional musicians pursuing advanced musical study. Also, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) is in residence; its educational programs are geared towards gifted high school musicians.

Tanglewood's claim to fame? It's the preeminent marquee venue in which to experience great performances across virtually the entire spectrum of musical genres and styles. From pop, rock, folk and jazz to classical chamber music, symphonic (with three orchestras), solo vocal, choral and opera – Tanglewood has it all.

From June 15-29, popular artists will be featured in the large outdoor Music Shed. Read music writer Grace Lichtenstein's pops column – she's new this year right here on in a column called "The Pop Music Beat," for a rundown of Tanglewood's two week "Popular Artists Series," from Friday, June 15, through Friday, June 29. Tickets for these popular concerts sell out quickly, so call or go online to reserve your seats now.

Tanglewood follows their pops series with classical performances, from Saturday, June 30, through Sunday, Aug. 26.

For tickets for all Tanglewood/BSO concerts (lawn and Shed seating) and special events, call 617-266-1200 or 888-266-1200 (TDD/TTY at 617-638-9289). For local information, call 413-637-1600. You can also order tickets and get information online.

Next week look for my reporting on classical concerts throughout the Berkshires, Franklin County and southern Vermont – the best places to hear great performances, e.g. Tanglewood, Tannery Pond, Taconic Music, Sevenars Music Festival, Marlboro Music and others.

Get a head start on two of the best classical presenters in the region by visiting their websites or calling for program information and tickets: Taconic Music (online and by phone at 802-362-7162) and Sevenars (no "t") (online and by phone at 413-238-5854).

Soon it will be time to gas up the car, (get out the road maps or turn on the GPS if you need it,) pack a box lunch or dinner and hear some fantastic music making in some of the most scenic and acoustically satisfying music venues in the world. We're blessed that they are all here, right in our own backyard!

Tags: classical music,   Tanglewood,   

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Mass Audubon Schedules Vacation Week programs

LENOX, Mass. - Mass Audubon has scheduled programs for both February school vacation - Winter Adventure Vacation Week - and April school vacation - Spring Explorers Vacation Week.

Winter Adventure Vacation Week will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday, Feb. 17, through Friday, Feb. 21, at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, 472 West Mountain Road, in Lenox. Instructors will be Max Galdos-Shapiro, the Berkshire Sanctuaries education coordinator, and naturalist Zach Adams. Suitable for children ages 7 to 12, the week will help children learn about wildlife that stays active in the cold and snow, and the adaptations that enable them to survive. Depending on the conditions, kids will build snow shelters and snowshoe or hike to "secret" parts of the sanctuary. Children should dress for the weather, with warm outerwear and waterproof boots required, and bring a lunch and two snacks each day.

Spring Explorers Vacation Week will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 20, through Friday, April 24, also at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and with the same instructors. Spring is a great time to experience the natural world as plants and wildlife awaken, energized and full of life. Explore our forests, ponds, and wetlands for new plant growth, early bird arrivals, and emerging amphibians and reptiles. Children should dress for the weather; mud boots are a must. Bring a lunch and two snacks each day.

Families can sign up for one, two, three, four or all five days in each session; registration fee is $240 member or $320 non-member per week or $50 member or $65 non-member per day. Register online or call for daily registration at 413-637-0320. Space is limited; early registration is recommended.


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