Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 2, 2009

Tanglewood on Parade

Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
August 1, 2009
by Shera Cohen

In spite of the fact there were no floats or horses, this "parade" was certainly full of music - in fact the best music in all of Massachusetts and probably New England. Started six decades ago, Tanglewood on Parade is an annual all-day event appreciated by more than 10,000 people. Overlooking the throngs of audience goers, particularly those on the lawn, the figure of 10,000 is conservative. The weather undoubtedly increased the expected crowds as this was a perfect Tanglewood day.

Four orchestras performed various pieces from 2pm until the grand finale fireworks at 11pm. Admission included 14 separate concerts to choose from in 7 venues including troubadours on the lawn. This was a who's who of conductors (John Williams, James Levine, Keith Lockhart, Leonard Slatkin, and Rafael de Burgos), composers (Rossini, Enescu, Bernstein, Copland, Tchaikovsky), and other recognizable names (choreographer Mark Morris, Governor Deval Patrick).

The evening's program listed primarily familiar pieces, which is common to Parade, and welcomed by the audience. The overture to "William Tell" was obviously rousing, performed by the "house band," so to speak, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, kicking off the final concert of the day. Enescu's "Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1" is one of those well-known pieces which the average listener does not know by name but only by ear. Gentle and yet swift like a speeding train that had lost its breaks, Enescu's music is memorable.

The Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (most talented youth) took on the lengthy dances from "West Side Story." The young percussionist worked in fast-motion, and the audience did all but sing-along. Parade would not be complete without the Boston Pops. John Williams conducted his own "Tributes: For Seiji" (Seiji Ozawa), and Keith Lockhart took the podium for Copland's "Lincoln Portrait." Narrated by Governor Patrick, the Pops performed the entire score.

It took a few minutes for the combined musicians of two orchestras to overflow the stage for the "1812 Overture." Every Parade's finale is the "1812" coupled with fireworks. It's been heard before, and will be heard again. Once is not enough, nor are a dozen or 100 times.