Tanglewood 2011 Festival Season offers both pleasures and surprises

Today the BSO announced its 2011 Tanglewood season. Once again summer in the Berkshires will be as special as it has been ever since 1936 when the Boston Symphony first made the orchestra’s summer home in Lenox/Stockbridge. 2011 will be full of dependable great music in the classic vein.

Our Tanglwood 2011 report is in four parts. This is Part One.

Overview, ticket info, week by week programming (Part One)

Schedules by Venue and Discipline (Part Two)

Day by Day Guide to Performances (Part Three)

Details of the Soloists and Conductors (Part Four)

Levine Taking Summer Off

Update 6/30/11: It is a great disappointment that James Levine will not be at Tanglewood this summer since he has been ordered by his doctor to rest in order to give his back time to heal. This has also caused him to resign his position as music director of the BSO, so the landscape has certainly changed. There are a number of guest and substitute conductors at Tanglewood this summer and that could be interesting in its own right. We have reflected the adjustments made in our Day by Day Calendar (link above) with the latest detailed program information.

Tanglewood offers more than Classical Music

In the ten weeks spanning the early performances by Mark Morris Dance in late June to Labor Day Weekend’s closing Tanglewood Jazz Festival, there will be forays into different territory as well.

James Taylor

At the top of the announced schedule is James Taylor who returns for four performances, as well as a surprise: the Grammy Award winning band Train which will make its first Tanglewood appearance on August 8. Taylor will make four appearances, the first in the intimate setting of Ozawa Hall on June 30; then a concert with the Boston Pops on July 1; and then two shed performances of The Essential James Taylor with his extraordinary band on July 3 and 4. The James Tayor and Train tickets go on sale February 6. Ticket details further down in this report.

More than 26 new guest artists will make their debuts at Tanglewood in addition to many familiar soloists from pianist Andre Previn to violinist Joshua Bell. The living legend Yo Yo Ma is scheduled to appear four times. The Berlioz Requiem, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, Porgy and Bess, Orlando, Pelleas et Melisande will all be heard. There will be the usual Film Night with the Boston Pops, as well as an Italian Night and a program devoted to the Baroque.

Here is the 2011 Tanglewood program, week by week:

Mark Morris

Mark Morris Dance Group makes its annual appearance in two highly anticipated concerts Tuesday, June 28 and Wednesday, June 29, collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma and the TMC Fellows.

The program includes three Morris works: the world premiere of a new work commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra set to Stravinsky’s Renard; Frisson, set to Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments; and Falling Down Stairs, set to Bach’s Suite No. 3 in C for solo cello, BWV 1009.

James Taylor, a beloved and annual guest, appears in four concerts June 30–July 4 that demonstrates his versatility as an artist. On Thursday, June 30 in Ozawa Hall, Mr. Taylor offers the music that has made him one of the most iconic artists of our day. Friday, July 1 brings James Taylor and the Boston Pops, a remarkable collaboration with “America’s Orchestra,” and on Sunday, July 3 and Monday, July 4, Mr. Taylor returns to the Shed with his extraordinary band of musicians for two spectacular performances of The Essential James Taylor. Tanglewood’s annual Independence Day fireworks display follows the July 4 concert.

Garrison Keillor

A Prairie Home Companion, with the inimitable Garrison Keillor and a colorful cast of friends from the shores of Lake Wobegon, has become a favorite Tanglewood tradition and once again broadcasts live from the Shed Saturday, July 2. The pre-season comes to an end Thursday, July 7 as the Mark O’Connor String Quartetmakes its Tanglewood debut performing Mr. O’Connor’s own music, a fascinating blend of bluegrass, swing, and classical.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, June 28 and 29, the Tanglewood Music Center Instrumental Fellows offer their annual String Quartet Marathon, a series of four 2-hour concerts in the Theater-Concert Hall dedicated to the wonderfully intimate chamber music genre. On Tuesday, July 5, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra opens their season with a concert led by Peruvian conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center will also conduct works on this program.


Joshua Bell

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is joined by soprano Angela Meade, mezzo-soprano Kristine Jepson, tenor Joseph Calleja, and bass , James Morris to kick off officially the Tanglewood season Friday, July 8, with a gala concert featuring opera excerpts by Bellini, Verdi, and Rossini, as well as Respighi’s resplendent Pines of Rome and Canzonas for brass by Gabrieli. The following night we will hear tenor Joseph Calleja, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor, in Berlioz’s monumental Requiem. The BSO’s first weekend wraps up Sunday, July 10 as violinist Joshua Bell and Peruvian guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya join the orchestra for a program to include Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy,for violin and orchestra.

Emerson String Quartet

The opening week also includes two enticing evenings of chamber music in Ozawa Hall. On Tuesday, July 12, Emerson String Quartet presents a traditional program of music by composers with whom they are known for excellence: Haydn (Quartet No. 67 in F, Op. 77, No. 2), Bartók (Quartet No. 6), and Schubert (Quartet No. 15 in G, D. 887). Acclaimed virtuoso violinist Nikolaj Znaider and pianist Saleem Abboud Ashkar perform a recital of Beethoven, Schumann, and Franck sonatas, Thursday, July 14.

Tanglewood Music Center vocalists will participate in an evening of three short operas by the 20-century French neoclassical composer Darius Milhaud, under the stage direction of Mark Morris, on July 10. On Monday, July 11, the Tanglewood Music Center Chamber Orchestra will perform a program led by conductor Stefan Asbury and Conducting Fellows of the TMC.


Kurt Masur

Eminent German conductor Kurt Masur, a frequent guest of the BSO and at Tanglewood, returns Friday, July 15 to conduct Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, featuring soloist Lynn Harrell, and Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, Spring. On Saturday, July 16 the BSO is joined by Danish violinist Nikolaj Znaider (making his Tanglewood debut) for an all-Sibelius program featuring the soaring Violin Concerto, the gripping Symphony No. 5, the beloved tone poem Finlandia, and Valse triste. On Sunday, July 17, acclaimed Broadway stars Kelli O’Hara and Jason Danieley join conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra for a program of Pops orchestral favorites and a tribute to the great Cole Porter.

Jean Yves Thibaudet

Outstanding French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, one of the world’s foremost interpreters of Ravel, offers an incredibly rare opportunity to hear the composer’s complete music for solo piano between two Ozawa Hall concerts Wednesday, July 20 and Thursday, July 21. Highlights include Miroirs, Gaspard de la nuit, Jeux d’eau, Valses nobles et sentimentales, and Le Tombeau de Couperin. Ravel’s piano music virtually defines the Impressionist period in which he composed, and is considered some of the finest keyboard writing of any era.

On Sunday, July 17, Kurt Masur, along with TMC Conducting Fellows, will lead the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in a program including Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Kodály’s Háry János Suite, Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegels Merry Pranks, and Schumann’s rousing Symphony No. 2 in C, Op. 61.


Pablo Heras-Casado

Young Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado makes his BSO and Tanglewood debuts Friday, July 22 as he and the orchestra are joined by renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham for a program of all-baroque music including arias by Handel and Gluck, and orchestra works by Bach and Rameau.

On Saturday, July 23, Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden, currently Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, also makes his BSO and Tanglewood debuts with a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, Brahms’s Violin Concerto with soloist Arabella Steinbacher, and contemporary American composer and Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Stucky’s Rhapsodies, a series of short and diverse episodes for orchestra. He’s joined by violinist Arabella Steinbacher for Brahms’s Violin Concerto. Outstanding pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet again takes center stage Sunday, July 24, this time with the BSO and Maestro Levine, for an all-Ravel program featuring the Piano Concerto in G, the Piano Concerto in D for the left hand, Valses nobles et sentimentales, and Boléro.

The Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra presents a concert performance of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, the centerpiece event of the TMCO’s season, on July 25. Bass-baritone José van Dam as Golaud will be joined by some of the TMC’s most talented alumni Vocal Fellows, including Elliot Madore as Pelléas and bass-baritone Evan Hughes as Arkel, filling out the cast for the Debussy work.


Christoph Eschenbach

The fourth week of Tanglewood 2011 gets underway on Friday, July 29, with the Serge and Olga Koussevitzky Memorial Concert, which features longtime Tanglewood presence and pianist Leon Fleisher and the BSO in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K.414, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

On Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31, National Symphony Orchestra Music Director Christoph Eschenbach conducts two BSO programs. On Saturday, July 30, he leads an all-Brahms program, including the Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring distinguished American pianist Peter Serkin, and Symphony No. 4. On Sunday, July 31, Maestro Eschenbach leads the BSO in Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 on a program that also features young American cellist Alisa Weilerstein in Haydn’s Cello Concerto No.1 in C Major.

John Williams

One of the festival’s most beloved traditions, Tanglewood on Parade (Tuesday, August 2) is a chance to see all of the festival’s orchestras perform in a single extended concert. Mr. Eschenbach, and John Williams share the podium for a program that will include Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg as well as the traditional TOP finale, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. This lively evening features performances by the BSO, the TMCO, and the Boston Pops, culminating in a dazzling fireworks display.

Week Four also marks the beginning of Tanglewood’s annual Festival of Contemporary Music, which this year encompasses six concerts. Curated by the eminent American composer Charles Wuorinen, the FCM begins with a concert featuring the world premiere of his semi-staged cantata It Happens Like This, a Tanglewood commission to be conducted by James Levine.


Spanish conductor and frequent Tanglewood guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos takes the podium on Friday, August 5 for a BSO program featuring the young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, who makes her Tanglewood debut in Rachmaninoff’s perennial audience favorite Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Also on the program are Beethoven’s boisterous Symphony No. 8 and Strauss’s Suite from Der Rosenkavalier.

Sarah Chang

On Saturday, August 6, renowned violinist Sarah Chang joins the orchestra for Mendelssohn’s sparkling Violin Concerto on a program that also includes Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 and American composer Pierre Jalbert’s Music of air and fire. Sean Newhouse, one of the BSO’s new Assistant Conductors, will lead the orchestra for the first time.

The BSO’s fifth weekend comes to a close Sunday, August 7 with one of the world’s foremost concert pianists, Emanuel Ax, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat, K.482. Lionel Bringuier, an Assistant Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra making his BSO and Tanglewood debuts, also will conduct Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and Smetana’s The Moldau, the composer’s most famous music from his iconic work of musical nationalism, Má Vlast.

Also on August 7 is the orchestral culmination of the Festival of Contemporary Music with a program that features Felipe Lara’s Onda, Jo Kondo’s In Summer, David Felder’s Inner Sky, and Andrew Norman’s drip blip sparkle spin glint glide glow float flop chop pop shatter splash.

Train, the band.

Monday, August 8 brings another rock concert to Tanglewood as Train, known around the world for hits such as “Hey, Soul Sister,” take the stage in the Shed. On Tuesday, August 9, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players reprise the majority of their October 17 Boston concert and are joined by composer-conductor-pianist André Previn in music that includes Previn’s effervescent new Octet for Eleven, for winds, brass, and strings, a work commissioned by the BSO.

Opera superstar mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe visits Ozawa Hall Wednesday, August 10, joining TMC faculty members Alan Smith, violinist Andrew Jennings, cellist Norman Fischer, as well as the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor, for a concert of American music including Copland’s In the Beginning, Mr. Smith’s Vignettes: Covered Wagon Woman and An Unknown Sphere (a world premiere and BSO commission), and selected African American spirituals.


Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos

Maestro Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos returns for the second week in a row to lead the BSO in a Friday, August 12, program dedicated to Spanish and Spanish-inspired music, which Mr. Frühbeck has spent his career tirelessly and convincingly advocating. World-renowned guitar virtuoso and fellow Spaniard Pepe Romero joins the maestro and makes his Tanglewood debut in this concert, highlights of which include Bizet’s Preludes from Carmen, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with Mr. Romero as soloist, and Falla’s Interlude and First Dance from La vida breve.

Two of classical music’s most acclaimed artists join the BSO August 13 as the inimitable cellist Yo-Yo Ma and German-Hungarian conductor Christoph von Dohnányi present a program of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, Classical, Schumann’s Cello Concerto, and Brahms’s monumental Symphony No. 1. The following afternoon, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra pays futher homage to Brahms with a concert dedicated entirely to his music, including Nänie and Schicksalslied for chorus and orchestra; the Alto Rhapsody¸ for mezzo-soprano, male chorus, and orchestra; and the pastoral and warmhearted Symphony No. 2. The young orchestra is conducted by Mr. Frühbeck and joined by Stephanie Blythe and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

On Sunday, August 14, Mr. Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax renew their longstanding and widely celebrated musical partnership with a recital to include music from two of the all-time masterworks of chamber music: Beethoven’s Sonata No. 3 in A for cello and piano, Op. 69, and Brahms’s Trio in A minor for clarinet, cello, and piano, Op. 114. Mr. Ma and Mr. Ax are joined by the principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera, Anthony McGill, who makes his Tanglewood debut.

Dominique Labelle

Tuesday, August 16 marks one of the highlights of the 2011 Tanglewood season as the California-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra makes its Tanglewood debut in dramatic fashion with a complete performance of Handel’s opera seria Orlando under Music Director Nicholas McGegan.

Susanne Rydén

Inhabiting the roles of this Baroque masterpiece are soprano Dominique Labelle, soprano Susanne Rydén (Tanglewood debut), mezzo-soprano Diana Moore (Tanglewood debut), countertenor Clint van der Linde (Tanglewood debut), and baritone Wolf Matthias Friedrich (Tanglewood debut).

Diana Moore

Handel’s opera brings together far-ranging episodes of one of the great heroes of Western literature, based on the 16th-century Ariosto epic Orlando Furioso.


Conductor Christoph von Dohnányi once again leads the BSO Friday, August 19 in a thoughtfully conceived, vibrant program focusing on core composers of the Austro-German tradition. Anchoring the concert is Beethoven’s revolutionary Symphony No. 3, Eroica, a piece that never seems to age no matter how much it is performed. Pianist Martin Helmchen makes his BSO and Tanglewood debuts as soloist in Schumann’s Piano Concerto, and the program opens with Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1.

One of the season’s most enduring and popular traditions, the annual Film Night concert Saturday, August 20 celebrates the music of the movies. This summer, John Williams and the Boston Pops are joined by frequent collaborator Gil Shaham in a program featuring film music arranged for violin and orchestra. Also on the program will be Mr. Williams’ nostalgic evocation of early 20th-century America, The Reivers, with a special guest narrator.

Bernard Labadie

Bernard Labadie, renowned Music Director of the Canadian Baroque and Classical specialist orchestra Les Violons du Roy, makes his Tanglewood debut Sunday, August 21 as he brings his expertise to the BSO in an all-Mozart program including the Symphony No. 41, Jupiter, Piano Concerto No. 18, K.456, and the Chaconne from Idomeneo. Pianist Benedetto Lupo makes his BSO and Tanglewood debuts as soloist for the concerto.

On Thursday, August 25, one of today’s most accomplished genre-bending artists takes the Ozawa Hall stage for a solo recital. A lyrical and intimate voice of contemporary jazz piano, Brad Mehldau has forged a unique path, which embodies the essence of jazz exploration, classical romanticism, and pop allure. As a bandleader and in diverse collaborations with artists such as Pat Metheny, Renée Fleming, and Joshua Redman, Mr. Mehldau continues to garner awards and admiration from jazz purists and open-eared musical omnivores.

On August 21, Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey returns to Ozawa Hall for a taped broadcast of the show.


Bramwell Tovey

The BSO begins its final weekend of the 2011 Tanglewood season on Friday, August 26, with George Gershwin’s great American masterpiece, the blues- and-jazz-inflected opera Porgy and Bess, which examines African American life in the South during the 1920s.

English conductor Bramwell Tovey makes his BSO and Tanglewood debuts leading the performance, which also features the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and a cast to include soprano Marquita Lister (BSO and Tanglewood debut), soprano Nicole Cabell, and bass-baritone Alfred Walker.

Itzhak Perlman

The great Itzhak Perlman joins the orchestra Saturday, August 27 for an all-Beethoven program that demonstrates his talents as both violinist and conductor. Mr. Perlman will act as soloist and leader for the Romances Nos. 1 and 2 for violin and orchestra, then trade his fiddle for a baton and conduct the composer’s First and Fifth symphonies.

On Sunday, August 28, the Tanglewood season comes to a close with it’s traditional performance of Beethoven’s transcendent Symphony No. 9. Eminent maestro Lorin Maazel presides over this year’s final evening and is joined by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and soloists to include soprano Joyce El-Khoury (BSO and Tanglewood debut), mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak (BSO and Tanglewood debut), tenor Garrett Sorenson, and bass-baritone Eric Owens (Tanglewood debut).


Angelique Kidjo

Continuing the tradition of jazz at Labor Day weekend, five-time Grammy-nominated percussionist John Santos, and Uruguayan violinist Federico Britos, a career symphony concertmaster as well as jazz musician, will headline this year’s Jazz Fest.

Saturday, September 3, will see a Latin Jazz Tribute to Cachao, the Father of Mambo, as featured in the bilingual “American Masters”/PBS documentary “Cachao: Uno Mas.” Santos and Britos each bring their Sextet along for the 8 p.m. performance.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, Grammy nominated stride pianist Judy Carmichael will bring a live taping of her NPR program “Jazz Inspired” to Ozawa Hall, with a special guest to be announced.

Michael Kaeshammer is a highlight of the Tanglewood Jazz Festival.

Michael Kaeshammer, a boyish boogie-woogier from Canada, will kick-start the Jazz Fest on Friday, September 2 with the help of his quintet, and a performance of the Robin McKelle Quartet.


A concert on Sunday, September 4 at 2 p.m. will feature NEA Jazz Masters Gunther Schuller and Jimmy Cobb. Schuller, a long-time Tanglewood presence, as well as a recipient of a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Fellowship, will conduct the Mingus Orchestra, one of several orchestras ordained to carry on the legacy of jazz great Charles Mingus. Drummer Jimmy Cobb, an elder statesman of the art, will perform with the Coast to Coast Sextet. Grammy award-winning Angelique Kidjo, of Benin, West Africa, four-time Grammy award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves and genre-defying gospel artist Lizz Wright, will close the Jazz Fest with Sing the Truth: Celebrating the History of Women Vocalists at Tanglewood, on Sunday at 8 p.m.


Tickets for the 2011 Tanglewood season, priced from $9 to $115, go on sale to the general public on Sunday, February 13; tickets for the James Taylor and Train concerts go on sale February 6. Tickets are available through Tanglewood’s website, www.tanglewood.org, and throughSymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200.  Tickets will also be available for purchase in person at the Tanglewood Box Office at Tanglewood’s Main Gate on West Street in Lenox, MA, as of June 17. American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Discover, and cash are all accepted at the Tanglewood Box Office.

Lawn Pass Books, priced at $180 (after June 24 the price is $190), include 11 tickets per book, providing flexibility and savings.  Lawn Pass book tickets are valid for all regular and specially priced BSO concerts in the Koussevitzky Music Shed and Ozawa Hall.  Tickets are not valid for Popular Artists, A Prairie Home Companion, James Taylor concerts, or Jazz Weekend.   All ticket prices include a $1 Tanglewood grounds maintenance fee.

Beginning with the 2011 Tanglewood season, Shed tickets to Saturday morning Open Rehearsals will now be seat-specific ticketed (no longer general admission), with tickets priced at $20 and $30; general admission lawn tickets are priced at $10.  The BSO Saturday Morning Open Rehearsal series is also being made available on a subscription basis, with a 15% discount offered to patrons purchasing four or more Shed tickets to the series.

Ticket prices for the BSO’s Opening Night Concert on July 8—an all-Italian program conducted by James Levine, range from $20 to $85, with benefactor tickets, including a Gala Opening Night Dinner, among other benefits, priced at $500, $1,000, and $2,500.

Tanglewood is pleased to offer free lawn tickets for children and young people age 17 and younger and a 50% discount on Friday-evening lawn tickets to college and graduate students. Up to four free children’s lawn tickets are available per parent/legal guardian per concert at the Tanglewood Box Office on the day of the concert. All patrons, regardless of age, must have a ticket. Please note that the free lawn ticket policy does not apply to organized groups.  For July 3 & 4 and other Popular Artists concerts, free lawn tickets are only available for children under age 2.

Tanglewood brochures with complete programs and information on how to order tickets will be available in mid-February by calling 617-638-9467. For further information, please call the Boston Symphony Orchestra at 617-266-1492 or visit www.tanglewood.org.  For Berkshire tourist information and reservations, contact the Berkshire Visitors Bureau at 800-237-5747 or www.berkshires.org.

To Tanglewood Part Two

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