Tanglewood 75th anniversary concert
Tanglewood threw an impressive party in recognition of its 75th anniversary as the summer home in the Berkshires and educational component of the Boston Sympony Orchestra. The Tanglewood Medal was instituted and shortly after intermission of the 3 hour program, Boston Pops conductor laureate John Williams presented it in abstentia to Seiji Ozawa, whose acceptance message was read by Yo Yo Ma.
Ozawa’s 29 year tenure as BSO music director was followed by the ill-fated term of James Levine, acknowledged tonight as the orchestra’s first American-born music director, but also unable to attend. Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart doubled as MC to start the program, addressing not only the 18,000 in attendance but also the world wide audience who will see the version that PBS plans to air on August 10 (check your local listings).
Boston Pops play Copland and Bernstein
Lockhart led the brass of the Boston Pops in Fanfare For the Common Man, by Aaron Copland, who headed the composition faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center for twenty five years. It was followed by excerpts from TMC alumnus Leonard Bernstein’s On The Town, which seems to represent the quintessential Pops repertoire, with its variety of memorable melody, rhythm, and musical whimsy.
James Taylor sings Ol’ Man River with Boston Pops
Next up was James Taylor, the esteemed pop culture chameleon, BSO patron, and intentional Berkshireite, who performed a three song set celebrating the Great American Songbook, along with the Pops under the baton of John Williams. It was an impressive performance by JT, who nails the final lines of Ol’ Man River in the following clip:
Inaugural Tanglewood Medal presented to Seiji Ozawa
By intermission, the attendant throng had been presented with an exceptional musical sampler. For Tanglewood regulars, it was typical fare; for first-time or infrequent Tanglewood visitors, it was an opportunity to scratch several items off their musical bucket list. Whether the program was chosen for the general familiarity of the selections, or for their suitability in displaying the virtuosity of the soloists, the result was thrilling. Thirty minutes of Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary celebration ran from James Taylor, John Williams and Boston Pops sampling the Great American Songbook, to Emanuel Ax playing Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D with Stefan Asbury conducting the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, to Yo Yo Ma playing Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile with the TMCO, followed by Anne-Sophie Mutter, whose performance of Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy, with Andris Nelsons leading the TMCO, nearly blew the roof off the joint.
UPDATE May 18, 2013: Andris Nelsons named Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
After Nelsons’ leading the BSO in Ravel’s La Valse, and the presentation of the inaugural Tanglewood Medal by John Williams to Seiji Ozawa, in abstentia, the stage was set for the program’s grand finale, Beethoven’s Fantasia in C minor for piano, chorus, and orchestra. It was performed by Peter Serkin, an annual guest soloist, David Zinman leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra along with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and current and former Tanglewood Music Center vocal fellows, John Oliver conducting.