July 5, 2002 concert review by Dave Read
The first of this season’s 22 BSO concerts at Tanglewood concerts was performed Friday July 5, with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus on board and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection.”
It was a perfect evening to sit still for a long time, the unbearable humidity of the previous 3 days abated, and sit still we did while the orchestra darted about the aural landscape, taking several right turns and maybe a few wrong ones, revving it up, idling down, before finally taking a back seat to John Oliver and his 120 voice chorus which brought down the checkered flag with a thrilling finale.
With the large chorus seated still above and behind the orchestra for nearly an hour it’s hard not to be anticipating their performance, especially when the several orchestral movements fail to coalesce. There was plenty to like in each movement, and some exciting transitions, but only the promise of the vocal payoff kept us trying to concentrate throughout.
The season will close on August 25 with the BSO and Tanglewood Festival Chorus together again in another program with a big vocal finale, Sir Roger Norrington conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Beethoven’s Ninth seems to be becoming the traditional Tanglewood closing program; it makes for a nice symmetry to open with something similar, like the Mahler, providing musician and audience alike opportunity to travel the breadth and depth of the aural spectrum, to whet the appetite for a summer-long feast here where music alights for a while each year.
Tanglewood homecoming celebration features
And speaking of lighting, the Housatonic Philharmonic sparked up a spirited set of Celtic and American music in the tent overlooking Ozawa Hall, to cap off the special Tanglewood homecoming celebration which also featured Hickory Bill’s Barbecue (not a band, real ribs and suchlike) and the David Mullaney Band from Ballina, Co. Mayo, which is Pittsfield’s Irish sister city.
We arrived in time only to hear the swell-named local lads: Paul Rice: fiddle and guitar, Andy Gordon: banjo and spoons, and Tim Gray: piano, penny whistle and hammer dulcimer. Their set was a perfect sampler of their branch of roots music, ranging all the way back to the blind harpist and composer Turlough O’Carolan, revered as the last of the itinerant Irish bards (b. 1670) and up to the present, including Jay Ungar’s Woodstock-area composition Ashokan Farewell, and Paul Rice’s composition, Housatonic Hornpipe.
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2019 Tanglewood schedule
The Boston Symphony Orchestra has released the schedule for the 2019 season at Tanglewood, which will be remembered for the opening of the Tanglewood Learning Institute, the four buildings overlooking Seiji Ozawa Hall on the Leonard Bernstein camopus.
Music director Andris Nelsons will be present for the month of July, conducting 13 programs, including the world premiere of a new work by Kevin Puts, The Brightness of Light, based on letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz on July 20, and a concert performance of Wagner’s complete Die Walküre on july 27 and 28. Details of programs in the Tanglewood Learning Institute will be announced on Feb. 7, 2019.