By Jacob Stockinger
Outdoor classical music festivals were not always as popular and commonplace as they are today.
In fact, the granddaddy of them all is Tanglewood – named after writer Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s nearby cottage — that is held in Massachusetts in the Berkshire Mountains by the venerable Boston Symphony Orchestra. BSO conductor Serge Koussevitsky started it with an all-Beethoven program, which included the beloved and appropriate Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale,” in 1937.
How fitting, then, was it for conductor Christoph von Dohnanyi (below, in a photo by Hilary Scott for the Boston Symphony) on July 6 to re-create that inaugural all-Beethoven program for the opening on July 6 of Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary season. (You can hear it via streaming from a link of the NPR blog listed below.)
Another gala concert, performed last night, July 14, to mark the 75th anniversary of Tanglewood — with three orchestras, five conductors and five guest soloists including cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist Emanuel Ax — was videotaped for later broadcast on PBS as part of its “Great Performances” series.
(The all-Beethoven concert was NOT taped for TV broadcast, contrary to what it first said here. I apologize for the error.) The gala concert is slated to air at 8 p.m. EDT on Friday, August 10, though you should check your local PBS listings and schedules. (In Wisconsin, the CDT time is 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. — a terrible time that guarantees almost no audience! So much for Wisconsin Public Television‘s much-hyped “Summer of the Arts” programming.) You will also be able to also stream both the July 6 all-Beethoven concert and the July 14 gala concert via Wisconsin Public Radio or via WGBH in Boston, below:
All of WGBH’ Boston Symphony on-demand content can be found at:
Here is a link to the story about Tanglewood’s great history and great music now located on NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” blog. Enjoy!
Also be sure to check out some extra links, including a photo essay of 75 years at Tanglewood, at the bottom of the story.
By Jacob Stockinger
To many Madison-area residents and local classical music fans, John Harbison may be best known as the co-director of the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival each summer during which he gives excellent talks, plays jazz and serves as a violist.
Yet John Harbison (below) is far better known throughout the rest of the world as a composer—and a very fine, respected and yes, frequently performed, composer. Many people forget that he has won both a Pulitzer Prize and a prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and that he remains a favorite of Metropolitan Opera maestro James Levine, who commissioned Harbison’s opera “The Great Gatsby” to kick off the millennium in 2000.
He continues to teach at MIT and concertizes, especially with the music of Bach, but Harbison is busier than ever with composing new commissions.
This last week saw the world premiere of his Symphony No. 6 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which, under Levine’s direction, started last season to hold a complete retrospective of Harbison’s symphonies.
For health reasons, Levine has left the Boston post, as well as the Met post for next season. But the reviews for the performance under conductor David Zinman and with mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy, are in and they are by and large very positive and agree that Harbison is not a composer to rest on his laurels or repeat himself.
Some critics even called the work, which used both an orchestra and a mezzo-soprano, a “masterpiece” and described it as “powerful.” Below is John Harbison coaching during a rehearsal.
You can read some of the reviews for yourself:
Here is also a good set-up or background piece with Harbison talking about his own new symphony (below he takes a bow with the conductor and singer who performed the world premiere of his Symphony No. 6):
And the world premiere for John Harbison aren’t over by any means. On Saturday, April 21, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, in a FREE and PUBLIC concert, Habison’s 10-movement String Quartet No. 5 will receive its world premiere from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Pro Arte String Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer). The Pro Arte Quartet commissioned the work to celebrate its centennial this season.
For details of that FREE and public performance and other centennial events, visit: www.proartequartet.org