Tanglewood 2016 season will be a classic, but also a summer of surprises

Tanglewood 2016 reflects new directions from Music Director Andres Nelsons

There will be a youthful edge to the classical offerings of the Boston Symphony Orchestra when it returns to Tanglewood this summer. Lots of Mahler and Beethoven, a healthy portion of opera favorites, and a trip back in time with Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret. This most unusual program shows the hand of music director Andris Nelsons, pushing the envelope of traditional offerings, yet not quite out of the box. The Weimar Cabaret features the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Barry Humphries — Australia’s greatest entertainer, best-known to audiences around the world as Dame Edna Everage — who will curate, present, and perform the popular music of Berlin’s Weimar Republic (1920s–1930s) including jazz, cabaret, tango, and Broadway-musical style pieces (8/14).

Overall the 2016 Tanglewood season – June 25-September 3 – is complex and diverse, offering Berkshire visitors a wide-ranging schedule of performances and events with some of the biggest names in the classical music world and beyond. They include Andris Nelsons, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Christoph von Dohnányi, Charles Dutoit, Renée Fleming, Paul Lewis, Yo-Yo Ma, Kristine Opolais, Dawn Upshaw, and Yuja Wang featured with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

For a complete day-by-day breakout of performances, soloists and programs check our separate detailed Tanglewood Schedule, one of the most complete online.

Boston Pops concerts including one with guest artist Seth MacFarlane, with Keith Lockhart conducting, and the ever popular John Williams’ Film Night.

Ozawa Hall performances by Jordi Savall, the Chick Corea Trio, Chanticleer, and the Emerson String Quartet; and favorite radio programs A Prairie Home Companion and Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! live from the Koussevitzky Music Shed.

The 2016 Tanglewood season will also feature Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center—the BSO’s acclaimed summer music academy—in orchestra, chamber music, and recital performances throughout the summer; highlights include a semi-staged performance of Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins and the U.S. premiere of George Benjamin’s Dream of the Song, part of the 2016 Festival of Contemporary Music, July 21-25, under the direction of Pulitzer prize-winning American composer Steven Stucky.

A full schedule of Popular Artist concerts, including performances to take place on July 3 and 4, among other dates, will be announced in the New Year.

Our Berkshire on Stage popular and detailed day by day schedule of events and planning guide is available now [click here], and is designed to help our readers make their plans well before tickets actually go on sale. One of the premier summer music festivals in the world and the famed summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937, Tanglewood is located in the beautiful Berkshire Hills between Stockbridge and Lenox, Massachusetts. Tickets for the 2016 Tanglewood season, $12-$124, go on sale January 24, 2016 starting at 10 a.m. through Tanglewood’s website, www.tanglewood.org, SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston MA.

Beyond its impressive lineup of near-daily performances throughout the summer, June 25 through September 3, the 2016 Tanglewood season also offers One Day University (8/28), on-site cafes and fine dining venues, free educational programs for children and adults designed to enhance the concert experience, and discounted ticket programs to encourage newcomers to experience the great breadth and scope of the many activities Tanglewood has to offer. Patrons 17 years of age and younger can attend concerts throughout the summer free of charge. Tanglewood also offers free tours of the beautiful Tanglewood grounds, surrounded by the Berkshire Hills and overlooking the Stockbridge Bowl. New this year—Friday- and Saturday-evening concerts, as well as Tanglewood On Parade, will now start at 8 p.m. (previously started at 8:30 p.m.); this change was made in response to a patron survey. Further information about these programs and the performance schedule is available at www.tanglewood.org.

Andris Nelsons to lead five programs July 29, 30, 31, August 20 and 21

In his second season as BSO Music Director, Andris Nelsons will conduct five performances during the 2016 Tanglewood season, including, on August 20, Acts I and II of Verdi’s Aida with soprano Kristine Opolais in the title role and tenor Andrea Carè as Radamès, along with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. For his first concert of the 2016 Tanglewood season on July 29, Mr. Nelsons will lead the BSO in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, the first work he and the BSO performed together, setting him on the path to becoming the orchestra’s fifteenth music director (Carnegie Hall, March 2011). The program will also feature Jonathan Biss in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat.

On Sunday, July 30, Augustin Hadelich joins Mr. Nelsons and the BSO for Sibelius’s Violin Concerto; the program opens with John Corigliano’s Fantasia on an Ostinato and closes with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. For his final concert of the season on August 21, Mr. Nelsons will offer a Shakespeare-themed program in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death: Berlioz’s Overture to Béatrice and Bénédict opens a program also to include music from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and a new, BSO-commissioned work by George Tsontakis—Sonnets, Concerto for English horn and orchestra, written for and featuring BSO English horn player Robert Sheena. On that same program, Croatian pianist Dejan Lazić, in his BSO debut, joins Mr. Nelsons and the BSO for a performance of Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 5, Egyptian.

Maestro Nelsons will also work closely with the Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in presenting an all-Brahms program for the annual Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert (7/31), featuring the composer’s Symphony No. 1 and the Piano Concerto No. 1 with Paul Lewis as soloist.

Opening and closing concerts of 2016 Tanglewood season

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s first concert of the 2016 Tanglewood season will take place on Friday, July 8, with Joshua Bell performing Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3, on a program with Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, under the direction of Canadian conductor Jacques Lacombe. Christoph von Dohnányi leads the BSO’s traditional season-ending performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on August 28, with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and soloists including soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen, mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose, tenor Joseph Kaiser, and bass Gunther Groissböck. The 2016 Tanglewood season opens on June 25 with A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, now in its 42nd year of broadcasts; NPR’s popular news quiz show Wait, Wait,…Don’t Tell Me! with host Peter Sagal returns to the festival (9/1) for one of the final performances of the 2016 Tanglewood season over Labor Day weekend.

Charles Dutoit is named 2016 Koussevitzky Artist

Charles Dutoit, one of the BSO’s most popular guest conductors since his debut with the orchestra in 1981, has been named the 2016 Koussevitzky Artist, an honorary title reflecting the BSO’s deep appreciation for his generous commitment to the 2016 Tanglewood season, and for his extraordinary 30-plus-year dedication to leading the BSO at Tanglewood and at Symphony Hall in Boston, as well as on tour to China and Japan, stepping in at the last minute for an ailing Lorin Maazel in spring 2014. In recent BSO seasons at Symphony Hall in Boston, Maestro Dutoit has been featured in a special series of concerts of major works of the first half of the 20th century, including music by Stravinsky, Ravel, Debussy, Martin, Rachmaninoff, and Hindemith, among others, as part of a multi-year survey encompassing repertoire of which he is a foremost interpreter.

For the 2016 Tanglewood season, Maestro Dutoit leads two BSO concerts in the Koussevitzky Music Shed, August 12 and 19, and a special chamber ensemble concert at Ozawa Hall on August 18. On August 12, Maestro Dutoit leads the orchestra in the overture to Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, Debussy’s La Mer, and Ravel’s Bolero, on a program with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat, with soloist Emanuel Ax, who was awarded the inaugural Koussevitzky Artist recognition, along with Yo-Yo Ma, in summer 2015. On August 19, Menahem Pressler joins Maestro Dutoit and the BSO for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, on a program with the overture to The Marriage of Figaro and Rossini’s Stabat Mater, with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and a cast of vocal soloists to be announced. For his chamber ensemble concert on August 18, Charles Dutoit and Friends, Mr. Dutoit, in collaboration with violinist Chantal Juillet, will conduct some of his favorite works for chamber ensemble, including Falla’s Harpsichord Concerto (soloist to be announced) and Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale. In addition, on August 15, Charles Dutoit leads the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, with Gil Shaham as soloist, and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

BSO is joined by impressive lineup of pianists

[Yuja Wang]In addition to the pianists previously mentioned, including Emanuel Ax, Jonathan Biss, Dejan Lazić, Paul Lewis (performing with the TMCO), and Menahem Pressler, the 2016 Tanglewood season boasts an impressive list of pianists joining the BSO: Yefim Bronfman (Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2, 8/5), Nelson Freire (Mozart Piano Concerto No. 9, 8/7), Garrick Ohlsson (Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, 7/23), Danill Trifonov (Chopin Concerto No. 2, 8/6), and Yuja Wang (Ravel Piano Concerto in G and Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue, 7/17), as well as a BSO debut by Igor Levit (Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3, 8/14).

Additional BSO highlights include Carmina Burana, Daphnis and Chloé, Metamorphosen, Pathétique

On July 9, Jacques Lacombe will lead the BSO in Orff’s Carmina burana and one of the orchestra’s signature works—Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé Suite No. 2—with soprano Nadine Sierra, tenor Jean-Francis Monvoisin, and baritone Stephen Powell, along with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. 2015 Koussevitzky Artist Yo-Yo Ma will perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on August 27 (details to be announced). Renée Fleming will perform Strauss’s Four Last Songs (7/16) on a program with Strauss’s Metamorphosen and Tchaikovksy’s Symphony No. 6, Pathétique, under the direction of Christoph von Dohnányi, who also leads the BSO in its season-ending performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on August 28. Pinchas Zukerman doubles as conductor and violinist for an all-Mozart program on July 15.

The 2016 Tanglewood season will also see the debuts of German conductor David Afkham (Schumann Symphony No. 4 and music of Beethoven, 8/14); Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno (Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird and music of Prokofiev, Ravel, and Gershwin, 7/17), and BSO Assistant Conductor Moritz Gnann (Mahler Symphony No. 1 and music of Mozart, 8/7) along with return engagements by Sir Andrew Davis (Sibelius Symphony No. 5, Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and music of Dvořák, 7/22) and Stéphane Denève, who joins Giancarlo Guerrero and John Williams for the annual Tanglewood on Parade concert, featuring the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood Music Center orchestras, on August 2.

Juanjo Mena joins the BSO for two concerts, starting with a program to include Falla’s complete The Three-Cornered Hat (7/23), followed by a program of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, Pastoral, with music of Ginastera and Mozart (7/24). Giancarlo Guerrero also leads the BSO in two programs: Adams’ Harmonielehre opens a program to include Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks and music of Chopin (8/6); his second program includes Dvořák’s Serenade for Winds, Britten’s arrangement of Mahler’s What the Wild Flowers Tell Me, Brahms’s Serenade No. 2, and music of Liszt (8/5).

Boston Pops with Keith Lockhart, John Williams’ Film Night, and Tanglewood on Parade

Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart leads the Boston Pops in two performances, the first a concert featuring Seth MacFarlane singing favorites from the American Songbook (7/10), the second a performance of the score to Raiders of the Lost Ark to accompany a live showing of the popular film (8/26). Boston Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams makes a welcome return to the festival to lead the ever-popular John Williams’ Film Night on August 13.

One of Tanglewood’s most beloved summer traditions, Tanglewood on Parade, will take place on August 2: a full day of performances and family fun activities throughout the grounds throughout the grounds, culminating in a concert by the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood Music Center orchestras, with a grand finale performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, followed by a spectacular fireworks show over the Stockbridge Bowl.

Following the success of their 2015 concert, members of the Boston Pops Brass and Percussion Sections again join forces with several of America’s leading drum-and-bugle corps, including the Boston Crusaders, Phantom Regiment, Blue Coats, and Cadets for a performance on July 6. In addition, Yo-Yo Ma and the highly acclaimed Silk Road Ensemble return to Tanglewood on August 7.

Tanglewood Music Center Highlights

In addition to the all-Brahms program under Andris Nelsons on July 31, performance highlights of the Tanglewood Music Center—the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s prestigious summer music academy training the next generation of top classical musicians—include the U.S. premiere of George Benjamin’s Dream of the Song, on a program with Messiaen’s monumental Turangalîla Symphony (7/25), the final program of the 2016 Festival of Contemporary Music, under the direction of Steven Stucky. In addition, the orchestra and Vocal Fellows of the Tanglewood MusicCenter (TMC) will present a semi-staged performance of Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins, with stage direction by Nicolas Muni, on a program with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14, with TMC faculty vocalists Dawn Upshaw and Sanford Sylvan as soloists; this program will be led by TMC Conducting Fellows.

On July 18, Christoph von Dohnányi leads the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (TMCO) in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, on a program with additional works to be announced, led by TMC Conducting Fellows. The TMCO’s first concert of the summer will take place on July 10 (details to be announced). On August 15, Charles Dutoit leads the TMCO in music of Kodály, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky (full program details listed in section on Charles Dutoit).

2016 Festival of Contemporary Music, July 21-25

Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Steven Stucky is director of 2016 Festival of Contemporary Music
Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Steven Stucky will be the Director of the 2016 Festival of Contemporary Music, which will focus on such 20th-century giants as Messiaen, Lutosławski, Boulez, and Donatoni, as well as introduce composers who have made big impressions in recent years, including Australian composer Brett Dean and Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, among others. English composer George Benjamin, who has a strong and ongoing relationship with Tanglewood, will be represented during FCM by a performance of the U.S. premiere of his new work, Dream of the Song for countertenor, women’s voices, and orchestra, a TMC75 commission, and the festival will also feature the world premiere of Brad Meltzer’s Variations on a Summer Day, the world premiere of a TMC Commission work for voice, violin, viola, and double bass by young American composer Erin Gee, the U.S. premiere of Joseph Phibbs’s String Quartet No. 1, and the East Coast premiere of Steven Stucky’s Chamber Concerto.

There are family trees, lineages, speaking across the generations to bring us the solace of tradition and continuity, but leavened too by the spark of innovation,” said Steven Stucky, Director of the 2016 Festival of Contemporary Music. “Running throughout these programs are connections both personal and artistic. First, Messiaen taught Boulez, then both George Benjamin and the late, beloved Jonathan Harvey, whom we memorialize with his gorgeous Song Offerings for soprano and chamber ensemble. Second, a tight-knit group of friends—including Salonen, Lindberg, Hillborg, and me—have mutually influenced and supported one another for years, and we share a number of concerns in common. Meanwhile, Lutosławski was a chief mentor and father-figure to Salonen, Lindberg, and me, and an important presence too in Joseph Phibbs’s music; and in turn both Salonen and I have also mentored Phibbs, as has Tanglewood’s own Colin Matthews. Matthews, Benjamin, and Donald Crockett have all taught Elizabeth Ogonek.” – Steven Stucky

Ozawa Hall Highlights

Ozawa Hall will present an eclectic and creative mix of programming with such prestigious ensembles as Hespèrion XXI with Jordi Savall joined by the Mexican folklore ensemble Tembembe Ensamble Continuo^ in a program of music inspired by the “discovery” of the New World (7/7). The Times They Are a Changin’ is the title and theme for a special program to be presented by The Knights on July 14. Chanticleer, in a program entitled Over the Moon, presents a lunar-inspired program of music ranging from Monteverdi, di Lasso, and des Prez, to Elgar and Mahler, contemporary composers Jakko Mäntyjärvi, Stephen Paulus, and Mason Bates, and jazz standards by Mancini and Bart Howard (7/27). Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret features the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Barry Humphries — Australia’s greatest entertainer, best-known to audiences around the world as Dame Edna Everage — who curate, present, and perform the popular music of Berlin’s Weimar Republic (1920s–1930s) including jazz, cabaret, tango, and Broadway-musical style pieces (8/14). The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, under the direction of Nicholas McGegan, with a cast of six singers and members of the Philharmonia Chorale, will present a concert performance of Scarlatti’s little-known La gloria di primavera (8/25).

Chamber music ensembles to be featured in Ozawa Hall this summer include the Emerson String Quartet performing Haydn’s complete Opus 76 quartets in the first of two programs marking the ensemble’s 40th anniversary season (7/12), and joined in the second by Renée Fleming for Berg’s Lyric Suite and Wellesz’s Sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (7/13); the Danish String Quartet, in its Tanglewood debut, performing music of Nørgård, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven (7/28); and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players in music of Françaix, Beethoven, and Spohr, as well as Jeremy Flowers’ Shamu and Clinical for horn, electronics, and piano (8/10).

Ozawa Hall recital programs will also feature pianist Jeremy Denk in a centuries-spanning program entitled Medieval to Modern representing the history of Western music from the medieval and Renaissance worlds of Machaut, Couperin, and Frescobaldi to Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, and the modernists Stravinsky, Cage, Ligeti, and Adams (8/24). Other solo piano recitals will feature Nelson Freire in music of Bach, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, and Chopin (8/3), and Daniil Trifonov in music of Bach, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff (8/4).

2016 Tanglewood Popular Artist Series

A full schedule of Popular Artist concerts, including performances to take place on July 3 and 4, among other dates, will be announced in the New Year.

Tickets not on sale until January

Tickets for the 2016 Tanglewood season, $12-$124, go on sale January 24, 2016 starting at 10 a.m. through Tanglewood’s website, www.tanglewood.org, SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston MA.

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