Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 10, 2011

Tanglewood Rehearsals

Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
by Miriam Hirschhaut

Beautiful weather. Wonderful music. The performers are dressed casually. So are we. Saturday mornings at Tanglewood rehearsals.

The night before, in anticipation of our picnic at the Grill, we packed a lunch: food, wine, candles, and centerpiece. In the morning we set out at 7:00a.m. for the Mass Pike, ready to line-up with our Tanglewood friends at the gate. We would chat about things that happened during the winter. Waiting for the bell to ring, we dashed for seats. There was no more lining up at the gate, no more rushing for seats this summer. That experience is a memory of the past, replaced by assigned seats in the shed. There are certainly pluses and minuses with these changes. It is up to the individual audience member to decide.

Despite the changes, still the same is the excitement of being in the shed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra performing for the entire summer.
Credit:  Stu Rosner
Before the rehearsal itself, there is a mini-music appreciation lecture about the concert to follow. Unfortunately and at the ninth hour, James Levine was not able to conduct due to health problems. Tanglewood personnel quickly hired guest conductors. Although not an intentional change in the rehearsal format, these maestros were tops in their field. Change is often difficult for everyone. However, it was interesting for us to see the exchanges between these new conductors and the orchestra. In turn, the “language” between those on stage and the audience was different this year. It was a new experience.

We were fortunate to hear other guests – a “who’s who” of talents in classical music: Joshua Bell, Peter Serkin, Emanuel Ax, Yo Yo Ma, and Benedetto Lupo.

The talks, the conductors, the guest artists – we who attend the Saturday morning rehearsals are so fortunate to have the BSO spend their summers at Tanglewood where classical music is at its best.

Yet, I must add one exception to my opening paragraph. Unfortunately, the beautiful weather could not hold out for the season’s final performance. For the first time in 75 years, Tanglewood cancelled Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The reason? A hurricane. A wise decision was made, and even Beethoven would forgive Tanglewood.