New England’s Music Mecca

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The Tanglewood Music Center is an annual summer music academy in Lenox, Mass., where young, developing musicians come to receive training and display their prodigious talents during the Tanglewood Music Festival, a series of outdoor concerts and the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Tanglewood’s lush lawn, regal trees and unparalleled views of placid lakes and rolling hills provide the perfect seats from which to listen to enchanting orchestra performances. Nature’s symphony harmonizes with musicians. Birds nesting nearby accompany with warbles and chirps.

As Boston Symphony Orchestra cellist Owen Young puts it, it is amazing.

“There’s the physical beauty of the place plus that extra feeling that in those trees, in those tanglewoods, are the spirits of so many musical conductors,” he says.

“I remember as a student at Tanglewood, Leonard Bernstein would conduct us, and he would stop and look up and say, ‘I feel the spirit of (Serge) Koussevitzky here.’”

James Levine will lead the BSO in an all-Italian opening night concert of music by Verdi, Rossini and Respighi on July 8, Berlioz’s Monumental Requiem on July 9 and Mahler’s thrilling Fifth Symphony on July 29.

Other BSO highlights include Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Aug. 26; Yo-Yo Ma, in one of his four Tanglewood appearances, performing Schumann’s Cello Concerto on Aug. 13; an all-Baroque program with Susan Graham singing arias of Handel and Gluck, Aug. 22; Joshua Bell in Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, July 10; and Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos leading an all-Spanish program with guitarist Pepe Romero, Aug. 12.

Several popular artists return to Tanglewood this summer: Christoph Eschenbach conducts two programs, July 30-31; Itzhak Perlman conducts and performs as a soloist in an all-Beethoven program, Aug. 27; and Lorin Maazel leads the BSO in their season finale performance of Tanglewood’s signature piece, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, on Aug. 28.

Other high points of this summer’s schedule include the Boston Pops performing a Cole Porter tribute on July 17 and singer/songwriter James Taylor returning to Tanglewood for four performances, alone with his guitar on June 30, with the Boston Pops July 1 and with his band on July 3 and 4.

Tanglewood 2011 also presents some of the best from the worlds of jazz, pop and rock. Grammy Award-winning band Train will make their first-ever Tanglewood appearance on Aug. 8.

The Tanglewood Music Festival, now in its 74th year, closes its summer season with the annual Labor Day Weekend Jazz Festival, Sept. 2-4. For detailed information about the 2011 Tanglewood season, including how to purchase tickets, priced from $9-$115, visit www.tanglewood.org.

Tanglewood takes place on a beautiful 550-acre estate that is also the home of Hawthorne Cottage, where Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote several books. The Berkshire summer resort town of Lenox is small but charming with lots to see and do, including the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum, a restored 1902 depot; a live playhouse called Shakespeare & Company; the Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio, featuring paintings by Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris, along with lazy nature trails; plus many “cottages,” which are actually the summer mansions of the 19th-century rich and famous. Among the most notable is The Mount, the estate of celebrated designer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edith Wharton.

There are many very good places to stay in Lenox, but two boutique country inns stand out: the Blantyre, a converted 1902 Tudor mansion which now resembles a Scottish manor, and the Wheatleigh, built during the Gilded Age in the style of an Italian palazzo.

These inns are pricey, though. The Wheatleigh’s Dining Room is a AAA Five Diamond-rated restaurant serving magnificent French cuisine, such as Scottish salmon and black truffles wrapped in puff pastry with foie gras and gateau of wild mushrooms.

 

Chuck Mai is the Vice President of Public & Government Affairs? for AAA Oklahoma.

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