Also, there has been much excitement over the 75th Anniversary Concert of the Tanglewood Music Festival, the largest musical undertaking in the BSO’s history. We reported on all the activities earlier in this story (link).
Today 7/6/12 comes further news.
BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe announced today the recipient of the first-ever Tanglewood Medal
“As we begin a brand new tradition in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Tanglewood festival, the BSO is pleased to present Seiji Ozawa with the first-ever Tanglewood Medal,” – Mark Volpe.
“Considering Seiji’s extraordinary 29-year tenure as BSO music director and his incredible commitment to the life and vitality of Tanglewood, the choice for the first recipient of this new medal was not a difficult one. Seiji’s years of devoted service, for which we owe him a great debt of gratitude, reflect a passion and dedication reminiscent of past BSO leaders and other influential musicians, such as Serge Koussevitzky, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Charles Munch. When Seiji’s great friend and colleague, John Williams, presents the Tanglewood Medal to him in absentia at the July 14 Gala Celebration, there is no doubt that all who are present will show enormous appreciation for the man who has had such an impact on the BSO and Tanglewood.”
“From my time at Tanglewood as a Fellow in 1960 to my 29 years as BSO music director, the orchestra and its fantastic summer home have always held a deep and special place in my heart, “ said Seiji Ozawa.
“I thank the BSO for this great honor of the first Tanglewood Medal. It will forever bring back my most cherished memories of a place that has been so central to my musical life. Though I am disappointed that I can’t be at Tanglewood this summer to celebrate the 75th anniversary season, it makes me happy to imagine returning in future years to work again with my dear colleagues of the BSO and the Tanglewood Music Center. I wish Tanglewood and the many wonderful people who support it continued prosperity, as the world will always need such places that feed the soul and spirit, and there’s no other place that does this quite like Tanglewood.”
Please note: Though Mr. Ozawa is unable to be present to accept the medal directly on July 14 due to his continuing recuperation from recent health issues, he will send a video message that will be presented at the July 14 concert. Also, though there are lawn tickets available for purchase for the July 14 concert, available by visiting tanglewood.org or calling 888-266-1200, the Shed is sold out with no remaining seats available for sale.
TANGLEWOOD MEDAL TO BE PRESENTED AT TANGLEWOOD 75TH CELEBRATION GALA ON JULY 14
In an event that is sure to be a highlight of the Tanglewood 75th anniversary season, June 22-September 2, the BSO will present a star-studded concert featuring some of Tanglewood’s most distinguished and longtime guests Saturday, July 14, at 8:30 p.m. For this special event, the BSO, Boston Pops, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, and Tanglewood Festival Chorus join forces with conductors John Williams, Keith Lockhart, Stefan Asbury, Andris Nelsons, and David Zinman, guest artists including pianistEmanuel Ax, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and pianistPeter Serkin, Tanglewood’s longtime friend James Taylor, and former and current Tanglewood Music Center Vocal Fellows as vocal soloists. The July 14 concert has been added to the PBS Arts Summer Festival and will air nationally on Friday, August 10, at 9 p.m. ET as part of GREAT PERFORMANCES.
The Tanglewood 75th Celebration Gala will open with BSO brass performing Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, followed by a Boston Pops performance of Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On the Town, both under the direction of Keith Lockhart. James Taylor will join Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra to perform some of the most beloved hits of the Great American Songbook, including “Over the Rainbow,” “Shall We Dance?,” and “Ol’ Man River.” The next part of the program will feature the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, first accompanying soloist Emanuel Ax in the second and third movements of Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D, under the direction of Stefan Asbury, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Andante cantabile, for cello and strings, with Yo-Yo Ma, and Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy, for violin and orchestra, with soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter, under the direction of Andris Nelsons. Following intermission, the Boston Symphony Orchestra takes center stage to perform one of its signature works—Ravel’s La Valse, under the direction of Andris Nelsons. The program will come to a close with David Zinman leading the BSO in one of the most popular Tanglewood works, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy in C minor for piano, chorus, and orchestra, featuring pianist Peter Serkin, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and former and current TMC vocalists: sopranos Emalie Savoy andEudora Brown; mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy; tenors Alex Richardsonand William Ferguson, and bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba. Further details are available at tanglewood.org.
SEIJI OZAWA AND TANGLEWOOD
No one could have predicted the course of events that would be triggered when Seiji Ozawa first stepped onto the grounds of Tanglewood as a 24-year-old Fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center, the BSO’s preeminent summer music academy. From Fellow in 1960 to Tanglewood Artistic Director in 1970, to BSO Music Director in 1973, Seiji Ozawa made an unprecedented rise within the organization to take on the leadership position of one of the world’s great orchestras. What makes his BSO career trajectory even more impressive is the fact that he was the first Asian conductor ever to be appointed to the helm of the BSO, at a time when all American orchestras still looked to the European orchestra model.
In addition to his myriad contributions to the BSO’s performance, touring, and recording activities during his 29-year tenure as BSO music director, Seiji Ozawa has also played a major role in nurturing Tanglewood’s artistic life and expanding its profile as an international festival of the first rank. With the naming of Seiji Ozawa Hall in his honor in 1994, there could be no better symbol of the impact he has had on the success of Tanglewood and the Tanglewood Music Center. Highlights of his accomplishments include his leadership of such memorable events as Bernstein at 70! and the Tanglewood Music Center 50th anniversary celebrations, as well as his performances of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Requiem, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, and Schoenberg’sGurrelieder, and major concert opera productions of Beethoven’s Fidelio, Berlioz’s Béatrice and Bénédict, Puccini’s Tosca, Strauss’s Elektra and Salome, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. His work with the Tanglewood Music Center (TMC) included re-establishing the TMC opera program with Britten’s Peter Grimes in 1996, followed by a new era of staged concert opera productions. Seiji also strengthened the teaching role of BSO musicians at the Tanglewood Music Center and brought in a greater number of international artists to work with TMC Fellows.
To the delight of Tanglewood audiences, Seiji Ozawa created special ongoing musical collaborations with artists such as Jessye Norman, Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Serkin, Itzhak Perlman, and Dawn Upshaw, among others. He also represents an incredible link to Tanglewood’s rich past, having worked closely with many of the festival’s towering historic figures such as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Charles Munch, as well as his close friendship with Olga Koussevitzky, the widow of Tanglewood founder and former BSO music director (1924-49) Serge Koussevitzky. Through his many recordings, television appearances, and world-wide touring, as well as his electrifying podium presence and intense passion for Boston and Japanese sports teams, Seiji Ozawa’s standing as an internationally recognized artist and celebrity has inspired audiences and helped attract ever growing numbers to Tanglewood and concert halls throughout the world.
BACKGROUND ON SEIJI OZAWA
Seiji Ozawa served as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for twenty-nine seasons (1973-2002)—the longest–serving music director in the orchestra’s history, surpassing the previous record held by Serge Koussevitzky (1924-49), founder of the Tanglewood festival. His current title with the BSO is Music Director Laureate. Mr. Ozawa, at age 37, became the BSO’s thirteenth music director in 1973; his first official appointment in a leadership role with the BSO began in 1970 when he served as an artistic director of Tanglewood (along with Leonard Bernstein and Gunther Schuller). During his tenure with the BSO, Mr. Ozawa maintained the orchestra’s distinguished reputation both at home and abroad, with concerts at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, on tours to Europe, Japan, China, and South America, and across the United States, including regular concerts in New York. Mr. Ozawa upheld the BSO’s commitment to new music through the commissioning of new works, including a series of centennial commissions marking the orchestra’s hundredth birthday in 1981; a series of works celebrating the fiftieth anniversary in 1990 of the Tanglewood Music Center, the orchestra’s summer training program for young musicians; and a series of new works in celebration of the 100th birthday of Symphony Hall in 2000. In addition, he recorded more than 150 works with the orchestra, representing more than fifty different composers, on ten labels, and won two Emmy Awards for televised performances with the BSO.
Education in Japan and Early Associations with BSO and Tanglewood
Born in 1935 in Shenyang, China, Seiji Ozawa studied music from an early age and later graduated with first prizes in both composition and conducting from Tokyo’s Toho School of Music. In 1959 he won first prize at the International Competition of Orchestra Conductors in Besançon, France, where he came to the attention of then BSO music director Charles Munch who invited him to Tanglewood, where he won the Koussevitzky Prize as outstanding student conductor in 1960. He first conducted the BSO in 1964 at Tanglewood and made his first subscription appearances with the BSO in 1968. He became an artistic director at Tanglewood in 1970 and music director of the BSO in 1973, initiating an historic 29-year tenure.
Honors and Achievements
Through his many recordings, television appearances, and worldwide touring, Seiji Ozawa is an internationally recognized celebrity. In addition, numerous honors and achievements have underscored his standing in the international music scene, including the Order of Culture—the Bunka-Kunsho, recognizing contributions of Japan’s art, literature, or culture, conferred upon him by the Emperor of Japan in 2008. He was named a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur by French President Jacques Chirac in 1999; Doctorate Honoris Causa by the Sorbonne in 2004; and “Musician of the Year” by Musical Americain 1997. Mr. Ozawa received Japan’s first-ever Inouye Award—named after Japan’s preeminent novelist, recognizing lifetime achievement in the arts—in 1994, the same year that saw the inauguration of Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood. In addition, he has received honorary degrees from Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts, Wheaton College, and the New England Conservatory of Music. In February 1998, fulfilling a longtime ambition of uniting musicians across the globe, Mr. Ozawa closed the Opening Ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, leading Beethoven’s Ode to Joy with the Saito Kinen Orchestra and six choruses (including the Tanglewood Festival Chorus) located on five continents—Japan, Australia, China, Germany, South Africa, and the United States—linked by satellite.
Most Recent Activities
Mr. Ozawa is artistic director and founder of the Saito Kinen Festival and Saito Kinen Orchestra (SKO), the preeminent music and opera festival of Japan. Since the founding of the Saito Kinen Orchestra in 1984 and its subsequent evolution into the Saito Kinen Festival in 1991, Mr. Ozawa has devoted himself increasingly to the growth and development of the Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan. With their extensive recording projects, annual and worldwide tours, and especially since the inception of the Saito Kinen Festival in the Japan “Alps” city of Matsumoto, he has built a world-renowned orchestra dedicated in spirit, name, and accomplishment to the memory of his teacher at Tokyo’s Toho School of Music, Hideo Saito, a revered figure in the cultivation of Western music and musical technique in Japan.
Inspired by his deep interest in the musical education of young artists, in 1996 Ozawa founded a program for instruction in chamber music in Okushiga Kogen, Japan and, in 2000, the Seiji Ozawa Ongaku-Juku in Japan, an academy for aspiring young musicians. In 2004, he established the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland in Geneve and, in 2011, the Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy Okushiga, Asia.
Mr. Ozawa held the title of music director of the Vienna State Opera from 2002 to 2010; he has also been a favored guest of the Vienna Philharmonic.
Positions with Orchestras Prior to BSO Appointment
While working with Herbert von Karajan in West Berlin after winning the Tanglewood Music Center’s Koussevitzky Prize in 1960, Mr. Ozawa came to the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who appointed him assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic for the 1961-62 season. He made his first professional concert appearance in North America in January 1962, with the San Francisco Symphony, subsequently becoming music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony (1964-69), music director of the Toronto Symphony (1965-69), and music director of the San Francisco Symphony (1970-76).