Tanglewood to mark Bernstein anniversary in 2018 with a lavish Lenny summer

November 16, 2017 at 3:00 pm

By Aaron Keebaugh

The Tanglewood Festival will mount a summer-long tribute to Leonard Bernstein to mark the American composer-conductor's 100th birthday anniversary.

The Tanglewood Festival will mount a summer-long tribute to Leonard Bernstein in 2018 to mark the American composer-conductor’s 100th birthday anniversary.

Leonard Bernstein enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with Tanglewood. He arrived in the Berkshires in 1940 as one of the summer institute’s first students and as the promising young protégé of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s conductor, Serge Koussevitzky. And when Bernstein came into his own as a celebrated conductor, he often returned to Tanglewood to lead summer concerts. He even conducted his final concert there in August 1990, less than two months before his death.

This summer, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Tanglewood Music Center, and numerous visiting musicians will pay tribute to Bernstein with a summer-long concert series that will fête the composer will performances of his own music as well as works he held close to his heart as a conductor.

Several of his pieces for the operatic and Broadway stage will be the spotlight among the festival’s wide-ranging programs. David Newman will lead the BSO in Bernstein’s West Side Story July 28 in the Koussevitzky Shed, Keith Lockhart will lead the Boston Pops in a fully staged performance of Our Town July 7 at the same location, and singers Alexandra Silber and Shuler Hensley will perform in Jamie Bernstein’s semi-staged production of her father’s Trouble in Tahiti July 12 at Ozawa Hall.

Also Stefan Asbury will lead the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and TMC Vocal Fellows in a fully staged performance of A Quiet Place August 9 at Ozawa Hall. The Knights will also offer a fully staged performance of Bernstein’s Candide August 22 and 23 at Ozawa Hall, and the official Bernstein Centennial Celebration, to be held on the composer’s birthday, will involve the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a performance of the composer’s music along with works by Copland, and Mahler (August 25). Andris Nelsons, Christoph Eschenbach, Keith Lockhart, Michael Tilson Thomas, and John Williams will conduct.

Other Bernstein works to be heard next summer will include the Chichester Psalms (July 15), Facsimile (July 23), Songfest (August 4), Three Meditations from Mass (August 19), and Fancy Free, Divertimento, and Serenade (after Plato’s “Symposium”) as part of an all-Bernstein program (August 18).

BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons will lead thirteen concerts next summer. Highlights include an all-Tchaikovsky program, featuring the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with pianist Lang Lang July 6 at the Shed. Nelsons will also lead Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1, with Rudolf Buchbinder as soloist July 8.

Puccini’s La Bohème was a favorite of Bernstein’s, and Nelsons will continue Tanglewood’s tradition of presenting concert opera with a performance of the work July 14. Kristine Opolais will star as Mimi and Piotr Beczała will appear as Rudolfo. Nelsons will also lead a Young People’s Concert, a staple of Bernstein’s work with the New York Philharmonic, on August 10 with Jamie Bernstein as host.  Mahler will return to Tanglewood next summer as well when Nelsons leads the BSO in the composer’s Symphony No. 3, featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (August 24).

Podium guests will include Herbert Blomstedt in programs of Mozart, Haydn, and Bernstein (July 20 and 21), Juanjo Mena in music by Britten, Mozart, and Brahms (July 27), Charles Dutoit in works by Glinka, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky (August 3) and Borodin, Wieniawski, and Prokofiev (August 5), and Bramwell Tovey in Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 (August 4). 

Thomas Adès will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in his suite from Powder Her Face alongside music by Sibelius July 22, and Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct the orchestra in Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, with pianist Igor Levit, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, and Tilson Thomas’s own Agnegram (August 12).

The Tanglewood Music Center will also premiere a new work by Michael Gandolfi July 23 at Ozawa Hall. Copland’s Symphony No. 3 will fill out the program.

Soloists and ensembles to appear next summer include pianist Jeremy Denk in music by Prokofiev, Beethoven, and Schumann (July 11); Paul Lewis in a recital of works by Haydn, Beethoven, and Brahms (August 2); Thomas Adès and Kirill Gerstein in a piano duo performance of music by Debussy, Stravinsky, Ravel, Lutosławski, and Adès’ own concert paraphrase on Powder Her Face (August 1); and the Emerson String Quartet in two all-Beethoven programs (July 24 and 25). All concerts will take place in Ozawa Hall.

The Fleisher-Jacobsen Piano Duo will offer works by Bach, Brahms, Ravel, and Kirchner (July 19), and violinist Pamela Frank will join pianist Emanuel Ax in an all-Mozart program (July 18). Pianist Igor Levit will appear with the JACK Quartet in a program of Beethoven, Schoenberg, and Rzewski (August 15).

The Boston Symphony Chamber Players will team up with pianist Rudolf Buchbinder for music by Mozart, Weinberg, Schumann, and Bernstein July 5 at Ozawa Hall, and the annual Tanglewood on Parade will spotlight conductors Dutoit, Tovey, Lockhart, and John Williams in music by Ravel, Gershwin, and Tchaikovsky on August 7.

Tickets for the 2018 Tanglewood Season go on sale January 28, 2018. tanglewood.org; 888-266-1200

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