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BU Institute Now 50-Year Institution


Erich Leinsdorf (Ansel Adams)
Erich Leinsdorf (Ansel Adams)

As you make your way out of Lenox on your way to Tanglewood, you may easily overlook a small sign on the side of the road, marking a driveway. If you pay attention, you’ll often notice young people in groups, many with instrument cases, walking to and from the concert grounds. This sign marks the location of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, where young people talented high-school students attend one of the country’s premiere training programs for musicians. The low-profile sign belies the importance and long history of the Institute (BUTI for short), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer on August 6th with a day of events, culminating in an Anniversary Concert and “BUTI@50 Soiree” at the Lenox campus.

The redoubtable Erich Leinsdorf, Boston Symphony Orchestra’s music director in 1966, asked the Boston University College of Fine Arts to create a program for high-school musicians to complement the BSO’s activities at the Berkshire Music Center, which we now know as Tanglewood.

Now led by Executive Director Hilary Field Respass, BUTI has at 50, an impressive roster of alumni to draw upon for their anniversary. Two young composers of special note have written commissions for the 50th Anniversary Concert. Nico Muhly (BUTI ‘96-7), whose opera Two Boys premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2013, will debut Pulses, Cycles, Clouds, a work for percussion ensemble. Timo Andres (BUTI ‘00-’01), winner of the 2008 Charles Ives Prize and composer of an impressive array of chamber music, has written a “triple brass quintet fanfare” entitled Land Lines. In addition, the BUTI Young Artists Orchestra will also play the Meistersinger and Academic Festival overtures, and a bass ensemble led by Lawrence Wolfe (from the very first BUTI) will perform a medley entitled It all starts with Koussy, as well as works by Kodaly and British composer Tarik O’Regan. The 50th Anniversary Concert begins at 2:30 at Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood and will be emceed by Emmy Award winner Lauren Ambrose (BUTI ‘94-5). A soiree under the Highwood Tent will be hosted by BSO radio host Ron Della Chiesa after the concert.

Leinsdorf congratulates Phyllis Curtin (Heinz-Weissenstein-Whitestone-Photo)
Leinsdorf congratulates Phyllis Curtin (Heinz-Weissenstein-Whitestone-Photo)

Before the festivities, one can take in BUTI campus tours every half hour from 9:00 – 10:30 am. Timo Andres will also appear at an 11:00 a.m. piano recital with more recent alumni Leon Bernsdorf (BUTI ‘10) and Paul Celebi (BUTI ‘15). A 12:45pm Alumni Panel Discussion on the topic “Changing Lives, Influencing the World” will feature BUTI alumni including soprano Alyson Cambridge (BUTI ‘96) and conductor and composer Lucas Richman (BUTI ‘79-’80); \ longtime BUTI Executive and Artistic Directory Phyllis Hoffman will moderate.

Of course, the 50th season of BUTI is already underway, and will continue into mid-August. In addition to the Anniversary events, comes a steady parade of performances and workshops (see the schedule here). This year has also seen the introduction of an Opera Intensive. Nico Muhly joins a new Visiting Artist Residency Program along with pianist Simone Dinnerstein (BUTI ‘86-87). These new efforts will help ensure that the BUTI’s future will live up to its illustrious past.

The tours, piano recital and panel on August 6th are all free, though to guarantee seats one should register here. The same site can be used to purchase tickets for the 50th Anniversary Concert ($20) and the BUTI@50 Soiree ($30). Proceeds from the concert will benefit the BUTI.

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  1. The first season was before my time but among the students in the 1968 and 1969 seasons were Charles Pikler, now principal viola of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Ludwig, founder and director of the Ludwig Symphony Orchestra and Beethoven Chamber Orchestra in Atlanta; Rolf Smedvig, former BSO trumpet player and founder of the Empire Brass Quintet, and John Soroka, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra percussionist.

    Comment by Mark Lutton — July 24, 2016 at 9:52 pm

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