At Tanglewood, “summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra,” the only thing better than the music and the scenery is enjoying both at once.
Is there a better way to spend a warm summer evening than at Tanglewood? You can walk its 250 acres in the lush Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts as the breeze carries the notes of musicians warming up. Here, concertgoers ditch fancy dress for blue jeans, dinner reservations for picnic baskets, and the best seats in the house are the cheapest if the weather’s cooperating, on the grass and under the stars. It’s this dreamy combination of artistry, community, and nature that has made Tanglewood a favorite destination for more than 350,000 visitors each year, not to mention some of the world’s finest performers.
The Tanglewood tradition dates back to 1936, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) gave its first outdoor concerts in the region. That same year, the donation of the Tanglewood estate in Lenox (named for the 1853 Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne) paved the way for then-conductor Serge Koussevitzky to officially found in 1937 the festival we know today: summer home of the BSO and the place that has nurtured so many musicians over the years. Here the Tanglewood Music Center began in 1940 as a place where young performers could benefit from the richness of the orchestra’s resources. Who wouldn’t want to learn here? In fact, an estimated 20 percent of today’s American symphony-orchestra members once spent their summer days being inspired at the Tanglewood Music Center.
Sounds of a summer night, from late June through Labor Day, may be classical, pop, folk, or jazz. Do you love Mozart and Beethoven? You can hear it all here. James Taylor wouldn’t miss his July 4th concert. There’s a week-long Festival of Contemporary Music in July and a John Williams Film Night with the Boston Pops—all in a setting beautiful and serene. Choosing just which show to see (or hear, as the case may be) is the hard part, but once that’s settled, all that’s left for you to do is to walk toward the fan-shaped, open-air Koussevitzky Music Shed and the lawn beyond as the sun sets. The heady combination of beautiful music, picnic food eaten on a grassy lawn that seems to stretch forever, and the amiable company of fellow music lovers is enough to rival any front-row seat in America.
TANGLEWOOD. 297 West St., Lenox, MA. To mark the 75th anniversary of the Tanglewood Music Center, the 2015 season will include special performances and the début of more than 30 new works commissioned for the occasion. 888-266-1200 (tickets); bso.org. Planning an elegant picnic? Check out our tips at: YankeeMagazine.com/Tanglewood