Up until the pandemic, Tanglewood patrons were accustomed to the indulgence of James Taylor songs on the Fourth of July. They expected a return to normalcy until the host communities set the attendance limit at 9,000, which caused Taylor to relinquish the cherished date to the plutocrat Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg is widely reviled in Massachusetts for being the man who spent $50 million in an attempt to install Scott Brown in the U.S. Senate seat held by Elizabeth Warren. Who knows how much he pays the BSO for use of the Boston Pops to market his view of an America segregated into a military class, an entertainer/performer class, and the hoi polloi?
Whatever the amount, it appears to be enough to let him overrule the BSO’s own pandemic protocols:
In support of regulations set by the Tri-Town Health Department and the Lenox and Stockbridge health boards, Tanglewood will limit attendance capacity to 9,000—50% of its usual capacity of 18,000; this represents a significant increase over the previously announced attendance cap of 25%.
Concert programs will not exceed 80 minutes and will be presented without intermission.
What took place July 4th at Tanglewood was an offensive 180 minute TV show. They got little right and screwed up totally by positioning 3 howitzers right next to the Shed, where the green benches used to be, for the finale of the 1812 Overture.
We’ve witnessed that piece at Tanglewood for decades, always with the artillery properly located on the Stockbridge Bowl side of the sloping lawn, and always to great effect. Tonight, instead of being an acoustic appendage to a musical score, it was an assault on the senses, utterly devoid of artistic merit.
It has been said that the end of all art is peace; neither peace nor art was in evidence tonight.
There was one spot on the program where this orgy of diversity-pandering could be redeemed. While the Boston Pops played in the background, a series of performers walked to center stage to proclaim quotations from the work of notable Americans of African descent, finishing each with the author’s name and the date of the quotation.
How did they omit this: “I can’t breathe, George Floyd, 2020?”