The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: For 75 years, here is how the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival, where composer John Harbison teaches, emphasizes new music and teaches young composers and student performers.

August 29, 2015
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

This is the closing weekend of this summer’s Token Creek Festival.

The closing “Buoyant Baroque” program, featuring the Lydian Quartet and others performing music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Arcangelo Corelli and Georg Frideric Handel among others, will be performed tonight at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. (The Ear sees that Sunday’s performance is sold out, but you should check for yourself. Sometimes spots open up form cancellations.)

Here is a link to find out more:

http://tokencreekfestival.org

American composer John Harbison (below top) is the co-founder and co-artistic director of the festival along with his violinist wife Rose Mary Harbison (below bottom).

JohnHarbisonatpiano

RosemaryHarbison

Harbison is a very accomplished man and musician. He has played the piano this summer for the festival, and he is also a preeminent contemporary composer who teaches at MIT. He has won a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur genius grant among his many honors. And at the Token Creek Festival, he is the most enlightening commentator on composers and specific works that The Ear has ever heard.

So it seemed a good time to bring to your attention a story done by NPR or National Public Radio about the Tanglewood Festival of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since it features John Harbison as a major source and interview. This summer the festival turned 75.

Harbison is, after all, the co-director – with fellow composer Michael Gandolfi — of the composing program at Tanglewood Music Center, which is where he often premieres his own new works and where he was busy working just before he came to Madison for the Token Creek Festival.

The Ear finds it interesting to hear how, ever since the festival’s beginning, the creativity of young composers and young performers has always been cultivated and encouraged, with an emphasis on creating new music and keeping the classical music world vibrant and current.

Below is a photo of this summer’s world premiere of a new work by Michael Gandolfi, with famed soprano Dawn Upshaw (on the far right in purple) working with student performers.

http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2015/08/15/432242280/at-75-tanglewoods-student-program-holds-focus-on-new-music-and-people-making-it

Tanglewood at 75 dawn upshaw


Classical music: Boston Symphony’s outdoor festival Tanglewood marks 75 years by repeating the inaugural program. Also, the festival’s gala concert marking the 75th anniversary will be broadcast on PBS.

July 15, 2012
3 Comments

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:

http://www.npr.org/event/music/155916329/tanglewood-at-75-opening-night-with-the-boston-symphony-orchestra

All of WGBH’ Boston Symphony on-demand content can be found at:

http://www.wgbh.org/995/bso.cfm

On Saturday morning, yesterday, NPR featured a profile of the festival’s anniversary, complete with sound samplings that give you the best idea that The Ear has ever heard of what it is like to attend the festival as a listener or visit, or to be part of it as a performer or student.

In addition, it featured some music by composer John Harbison, who is also known to Madison-area fans as the co-director of the upcoming Token Creek Chamber Music Festival.

Here is a link to the story about Tanglewood’s great history and great music now located on NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” blog. Enjoy!

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/07/14/156725774/tanglewood-celebrating-beethoven-in-the-backwoods-for-75-years

Also be sure to check out some extra links, including a photo essay of 75 years at Tanglewood, at the bottom of the story.


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