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Tanglewood 2020 Announced


Now that the publication embargo has lifted, it can be told. The BSO will present concerts, lectures, and performances of astonishing variety once again at its summer home of some 84 years. Readers can skip the commentary and go directly to the June 19th to August 30th season calendar HERE.  A lot is also going on the Tanglewood Learning Institute too. Click HERE to find out what to think. Then take your time savoring, since tickets don’t go on sale until February 9th.

Ringo Star opens the popular offerings on June 19th, but the classical good news begins with BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons’s commitment to 12 appearances.  Many predictable favorite artists and conductors return, and 22 make Tanglewood debuts.

According to the press release, the season highlights include an Andris Nelsons-led Act III of Tannhäuser, Paul Lewis performing all five Beethoven piano concertos, a weekend-long celebration of Isaac Stern on the 100th anniversary of his birth, a Boston Pops presentation of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back under the direction of Keith Lockhart, Film Night hosted by John Williams, Thomas Adès directing the 2020 Festival of Contemporary Music, and a Popular Artist series with Ringo Starr, Trey Anastasio, and Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie. Alongside these programs taking place in the Koussevitzky Music Shed will be intimate chamber music and recital concerts in Ozawa Hall and engaging and thought-provoking activities in the Linde Center, which opened to great popular and critical acclaim in 2019 (see separate press release for 2020 Tanglewood Learning Institute programs here). Giants of the classical music field and beloved Tanglewood guest artists Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Pamela Frank, Susan Graham, Leonidas Kavakos, Midori, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gil Shaham, as well as the talented musicians of the Tanglewood Music Center, the BSO’s famed summer music academy, which presents free and discounted concerts all summer long.

One of the festival’s most beloved traditions, offering audiences a full day of musical activities for music lovers of every age, Tanglewood on Parade takes place on July 28th and culminates in an 8 p.m. concert in the Shed featuring the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood Music Center orchestras, under the direction of Andris Nelsons, John Williams, and Thomas Wilkins. Tanglewood’s many educational and family-friendly programs include the Tanglewood Family Fun Fest on July 31st, offering visitors an afternoon of free live performances and family-friendly activities presented by local Berkshire artists and cultural organizations; it is part of the Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays. This season’s Tanglewood Family Concert, Music of the Spheres, with conductor and narrator Thomas Wilkins, will take place on August 1st in partnership with Circle Round creators Rebecca Sheir and Eric Shimelonis. Berkshire Night will again take place this summer with free Shed tickets for Berkshire residents with valid identification. The BSO will present the second annual Tanglewood in the City: Pittsfield, a live video transmission of a concert from Tanglewood; the concert will be shown on a 15×27-foot screen on the Pittsfield Common and is designed to share one of the festival’s major Shed performances with a wider community of Berkshire residents. The dates for Berkshire Night and Tanglewood in the City: Pittsfield will be announced in the coming months.

Tanglewood continues to offer free lawn tickets to young people age 17 and under—one of the festival’s most popular ticket offerings—as well as a variety of special programs for families and children attending the BSO’s weekend activities. Summer Sundays offers musical and participatory activities for visitors of all ages at various locations throughout the grounds from noon to 2 p.m. prior to every Sunday-afternoon Boston Symphony performance. Sunday afternoon programs designed for young children, taking place in advance of BSO concerts, include Watch and Play, a series of lively discussions about instruments, concert themes, and musical concepts and What’s That Sound?, an up-close look at various instruments of the orchestra, demonstrated by members of the BSO. Kids’ Corner, taking place on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons is designed to provide child-friendly craft activities relating to concert music. In addition, a series of free TLI Open Houses will take place at the Linde Center, with details to be announced at a later date. Further details about these programs and the entire Tanglewood season are available at and

Andris Nelsons, the Ray and Maria Stata BSO Music Director, to be in residence July 10-August 2Andris Nelsons will lead 12 performances, beginning with a July 10 Boston Symphony program that opens with Debussy’s Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun, featuring BSO principal flute Elizabeth Rowe, and closes with Poulenc’s Gloria with soprano Nicole Cabell and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the first of six BSO programs throughout the 2020 Tanglewood season celebrating the ensemble’s 50th anniversary. The program will also include Mozart’s Piano Concerto in E-flat for two pianos featuring piano-duo brothers Lucas and Arthur Jussen in their Tanglewood debut, and American composer Julia Adolphe’s Underneath the Sheen. The following evening, Saturday, July 11, Mr. Nelsons leads a performance of Act III of Wagner’s Tannhäuser with Christopher Ventris in the title role, Sarah Jakubiak as Elisabeth, Marina Prudenskaya as Venus, and Michael Nagy as Wolfram; this performance will also feature the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir. On Sunday, July 12, Emanuel Ax joins Andris Nelsons and the BSO for Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on a program with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

In what is sure to be a major highlight of the 2020 Tanglewood season, the following weekend, Mr. Nelsons leads a series of three programs featuring Paul Lewis—the 2020 Koussevitzky Artist—in all five Beethoven piano concertos, July 17-19 (July 17: The Consecration of the House Overture and Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3; July 18: Overture to The Ruins of Athens and Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 4; and July 19: selections from The Creatures of Prometheus and Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor). In another season highlight, Mr. Nelsons will lead the first of three BSO concerts celebrating the 100th anniversary of Isaac Stern’s birth, July 24-26, with a program featuring Augustin Hadelich in Beethoven’s Romance No. 1 in G and Dutilleux’s L’Arbre des songes for violin and orchestra; the program will end with Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. Tanglewood’s annual gala dinner will take place prior to the evening’s performance. Further details about the Isaac Stern weekend appear below.

Mr. Nelsons will join John Williams and Thomas Wilkins for the annual Tanglewood on Parade extravaganza on July 24, with performances by musicians of the Tanglewood Music Center and Boston University Tanglewood Institute throughout the day, leading up to the evening’s gala concert featuring the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood Music Center orchestras in a program to include Strauss’s Don Juan and the traditional finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, combining the forces of the BSO and TMCO, followed by a fireworks display over the Stockbridge Bowl. Mr. Nelsons will also lead the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra on July 20 in an Ozawa Hall program to include Brahms’s Symphony No. 2.

John Williams is the George and Roberta Berry Boston Pops Conductor Laureate and Thomas Wilkins is the Germeshausen BSO Youth and Family Concerts Conductor.

Tanglewood honors the 100th anniversary of Isaac Stern’s birth with a weekend-long celebration, July 24-26
Tanglewood’s 2020 season honors the 100th anniversary of legendary American violinist Isaac Stern’s birth (July 21, 1920) with a weekend-long celebration, July 24-26, featuring six of the world’s most acclaimed violinists performing works closely associated with Mr. Stern’s 65-year career as one of the most preeminent artists of the 20th century. Stern’s relationship with the BSO began in January 1948, when he made debut with the orchestra performing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with Serge Koussevitzky conducting. He made his Tanglewood debut that summer and continued to perform regularly at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood for nearly 50 years. The BSO’s weekend of performances is the culmination of a season-long celebration of the centennial of Mr. Stern’s birth.

On Friday, July 24, Andris Nelsons and the BSO open the Stern weekend with the Tanglewood Gala, featuring violinist Augustin Hadelich in Beethoven’s Romance No. 1 in G, for violin and orchestra (which Stern performed with the BSO in 1965) and Dutilleux’s L’Arbre des songes, for violin and orchestra, a work written for and dedicated to Stern. Maestro Nelsons and the BSO close the gala program with Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

On Saturday, July 25, Midori joins the BSO and conductor Constantinos Carydis for a program featuring Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s “Symposium”). Stern gave the world premiere of Serenade with Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic in 1954, and the following year gave the U.S. premiere performances at with the BSO and Charles Munch. Mr. Carydis also leads the BSO in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

The celebration of Isaac Stern’s 100th birthday wraps up with a star-studded BSO performance featuring violinists Joshua Bell, Pamela Frank, Vadim Gluzman, and Nancy Zhou, cellists Jian Wang and Steven Isserlis, and pianist Jeremy Denk, under the direction of Isaac Stern’s sons—conductors David and Michael Stern. The concert opens with J.S. Bach’s Concerto in D minor for two violins featuring Pamela Frank and Nancy Zhou (Ms. Zhou was the 2018 winner of the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition). Cellist Jian Wang—who, as a young prodigy, was featured in the documentary From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China—performs Tchaikovsky’s Andante cantabile. The afternoon closes with one of Stern’s signature works—Beethoven’s Triple Concerto—performed by Jeremy Denk, Joshua Bell, and Steven Isserlis. Further program details for the July 25 and 26 performances will be announced at a later date.

As part of the celebration, the Tanglewood Learning Institute will host a special Stern @ 100 Weekend, presented in conjunction with the weekend’s Shed programming. The TLI Weekend will explore cultural diplomacy here and abroad, leadership in the arts, and musical collaboration. Sessions include a leadership in the arts panel discussion with Mark Volpe, Eunice and Julian Cohen BSO President and CEO, and others, an open rehearsal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and a TLI-TMC OpenStudio piano trios master class led by Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma, in honor of the incredible legacy of the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio. For For further information about Stern @ 100 Weekend programs and activities, visit

Tanglewood Festival Chorus Celebrates its 50th -Anniversary Season in 2020
The Tanglewood Festival Chorus, under the direction of James Burton, marks its 50th anniversary in 2020 with a season-long celebration at Tanglewood featuring six performances with the BSO. The TFC, with soprano Nicole Cabell, will join the orchestra for a performance of Poulenc’s Gloria with Andris Nelsons conducting (July 10); Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Act III with Mr. Nelsons, the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir and a cast of soloists (July 11); Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 3 with Maestro Nelsons (August 1); Barber’s Prayers of Kierkegaard with Mr. Nelsons and soprano Rachel Willis-Sørenson (August 2); Berlioz’s Requiem with conductor Sir Mark Elder (August 22); and Brahms’s Geistliches Lied and Fest- und Gedenksprüche featuring TFC alumni and current members led by TFC Conductor James Burton followed by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the current TFC led by Christoph von Dohnányi (August 23).

In addition to the six performances in the Shed this season, Mr. Burton conducts the TFC’s annual Prelude Concert on Friday, July 31 in Ozawa Hall, and members of the chorus will participate in a TFC Voice Class, led by Susan Graham, as part of the Tanglewood Learning Institute’s MasterPass program on Saturday, August 1.

Originally formed under the joint sponsorship of Boston University and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus was established in 1970 by its founding conductor, the late John Oliver, who stepped down from his leadership position with the TFC at the end of the 2015 Tanglewood season after 45 years. Though first established for performances at the BSO’s summer home, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus was soon playing a major role in the BSO’s subscription season as well as BSO concerts at Carnegie Hall; the ensemble now performs year-round with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops. In February 2017, James Burton was named the new Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also being appointed to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director. 
Mr. Burton is the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

Boston Pops and Tanglewood on Parade
The Boston Pops perform four times throughout the 2020 Tanglewood season: On Saturday, June 20, as part of Tanglewood’s Popular Artist Series, Keith Lockhart and the orchestra performs with legendary Phish co-founder, composer/guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio during the festival’s opening weekend. On Saturday, August 15, the Boston Pops celebrates John Williams’ Film Night’s 20th anniversary as one of Tanglewood’s most anticipated and beloved evenings. John Williams hosts the program, which celebrates some of his favorite selections from Film Nights past, performed by the Pops and led by Maestro Lockhart during his 25th anniversary season as Pops conductor.

On Friday, August 21, Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops present Disney’s Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, performing the classic film with live orchestral accompaniment. The performance follows last year’s presentation of Star Wars: A New Hope. The Boston Pops is also featured alongside the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra for the annual Tanglewood on Parade concert, taking place on Tuesday, July 28.

Keith Lockhart is the Julian and Eunice Cohen Boston Pops Conductor.

Popular Artist Series
Tanglewood’s Popular Artist series kicks off June 19, 2020, in the Shed with Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band opening the 2020 Tanglewood season. The Tanglewood concert is part of Starr’s 2020 North American tour following the recent release of his new album, What’s My Name. The following night, June 20 at 7:30 p.m., composer/guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio, a founding member of the rock band Phish, joins Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops in concert in the Shed. American music icons Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie finish out the opening weekend with an afternoon performance in the Shed (6/21). Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, NPR’s oddly informative news quiz show, returns to Tanglewood on Thursday, August 27, at 8 p.m. The Peabody Award-winning show offers a fast-paced, irreverent look at the week’s news, hosted by Peter Sagal with judge and scorekeeper Bill Kurtis. Additional popular artists will be announced in early 2020.

Artists Making Their BSO and Tanglewood debuts
This Tanglewood season will see the BSO and Tanglewood debuts of a number of musicians, beginning with the opening night Tanglewood debuts of soprano Angel Blue (Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, for soprano and orchestra) and saxophonist James Carter (Roberto Sierra’s Concerto for Saxophones and Orchestra) on July 3. Anna Rakitina makes her BSO and Tanglewood debuts on Sunday, July 5, conducting her first program as BSO assistant conductor: Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, K.488, featuring soloist Ingrid Fliter, and Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The following weekend, the young Dutch duo-pianist brothers Lucas and Arthur Jussen make their Tanglewood debut performing Mozart’s Concerto in E-flat for two pianos, K.365, following their BSO debut opening the orchestra’s 2019-20 Symphony Hall season. On Saturday, July 25, as part of Tanglewood’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of Isaac Stern’s birth, conductor Constantinos Carydis makes his Tanglewood debut conducting Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s “Symposium”), for violin and orchestra featuring Midori, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. In August, violinist Leila Josefowicz—who’s performed with the BSO and Boston Pops in Boston—makes her Tanglewood debut performing Thomas Adès’s Violin Concerto on a program led by Mr. Adès himself.

Three vocalists make their BSO and Tanglewood debuts in 2020. Soprano Sarah Jakubiak, singing the role of Elizabeth, and mezzo-soprano Marina Prudenskaya as Venus join Andris Nelsons and the BSO for Act III of Wagner’s Tannhäuser on July 11, and on August 23, soprano Tamara Wilson makes her debut in the traditional season-closing performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, this year conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi.

Tanglewood Debuts in Ozawa Hall
In Ozawa Hall, sarod player Amjad Ali Khan and guitarist Sharon Isbin make their Tanglewood debuts performing a program entitled Strings for Peace on July 15. Using the similarities between the sarod and the guitar to find common ground between Indian and Western musical traditions, sarod master Amjad Ali Khan and virtuoso guitarist Sharon Isbin explore centuries of artistic cross-fertilization for an evening of spiritual uplift and discovery featuring traditional ragas, plus works by Albéniz, Tárrega, Amjad Ali Khan, and more. They’re joined by sarod players Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayann Ali Bangash in their Tanglewood debuts.

On July 22 and 23, French conductor François-Xavier Roth’s orchestra Les Siècles makes its Tanglewood debut, performing two programs featuring music of Gossec, Beethoven, Méhul, and Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Soprano Julie Fuchs—also making her Tanglewood debut—joins the ensemble on July 22 for Beethoven’s concert aria, Ah! Perfido, and on July 23, violinist Chouchane Siranossian makes her Tanglewood debut, performing Chevalier de Saint-Georges’s Violin Concerto in D, Op. 2, No. 2.

In its first Tanglewood appearances, Music from Copland House, the resident ensemble of Aaron Copland’s National Historic Landmark home in New York, is joined by mezzo-soprano Susan Graham for the world premiere performances of Richard Danielpour and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove’s A Standing Witness. Co-commissioned by the BSO, A Standing Witness is a cycle of thirteen songs written for Ms. Graham and the Music from Copland House ensemble. offering a sweeping retrospective on pivotal historical events and moments in the U.S. over the past half-century. The work can be perceived as a series of musical snapshots tracing the trajectory of American civilization since 1968, as well as an invitation to bring forth what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” The program also features Pierre Jalbert’s Crossings and Copland’s Sextet for clarinet, piano, and string quartet.

Festival of Contemporary Music (FCM), August 6-10
Curated for the third season by Thomas Adès, the 2020 Festival of Contemporary Music, August 6-10, features works for large and small ensembles performed by Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center. This season features works by nearly 20 contemporary composers, including Thomas Adès, Richard Ayres, Joanna Baille, Derek Bermel, Harrison Birtwistle, Osvaldo Golijov, György Kurtág, Ligeti, Nicholas Maw, Per Nørgård, Andrew Norman, Kaija Saariaho, Sean Shepherd, Mark Simpson, Linda Catlin Smith, Judith Weir, John Woolrich, and Du Yun. The opening performance on August 6 will feature the American premiere of a new work by former TMC Composition Fellow Andrew Haig (a TMC co-commission).

This year’s Festival will also feature a program of short silent films with original scores by the Composition Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center (August 9).

Thomas Adès is the Deborah and Philip Edmundson Artistic Partner and the Merwin Geffen, M.D. and Norman Solomon, M.D., Festival of Contemporary Music Director.

Tanglewood Music Center/BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists Recitals
In addition to the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra’s performances during Tanglewood on Parade (July 28) and during the Festival of Contemporary Music (August 10), the orchestra performs three more times throughout the 2020 season. On July 6, Stefan Asbury and TMC Conducting Fellows lead a concert highlighted by the world premiere of Bernard Rands’s Symphonic Fantasy (a BSO/TMC co-commission). The concert also features the Suite from Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons conducts the TMCO on July 20 in a program including Brahms’s Symphony No. 2, and on August 16, Christoph von Dohnányi conducts the orchestra in a performance in the Koussevitzky Music Shed featuring Strauss’s Burleske for piano and orchestra, featuring Francesco Piemontesi, and Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, along with Schumann’s Symphony No. 2.

In a new collaboration with BBC Radio 3, TMC Fellows and participants in Radio 3’s New Generation Artists program will present a series of free one-hour lunchtime recitals in the Linde Center, Studio E – Mondays, July 6–August 10, 1:30 p.m. Each recital will be recorded for delayed broadcast on Radio 3.

Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center are also featured in vocal and chamber music performances throughout the summer, with further details to be announced at a later date.


4 Comments [leave a civil comment (others will be removed) and please disclose relevant affiliations]

  1. A friend just pointed out that, instead of doing the Beethoven 9th yet again at the end of the season, they should have honored LvB and the TFC by doing the Missa Solemnis. How often has that been done at T’wood?

    Comment by Don Drewecki — November 24, 2019 at 1:47 pm

  2. According to HENRY, Op. 123 has seen seven performances at Tanglewood (including two on consecutive days under Bernstein in 1971). The last was under Norrington in 1993.

    Comment by Homeward — November 27, 2019 at 10:24 am

  3. Regarding the consecutive performances of Op 123 at Tanglewood, in July, 1971, the first was the Saturday morning rehearsal. According to HENRY, “from payroll records,” both Arlene Saunders and Maureen Forrester were present at this rehearsal. The printed program for the weekend lists Saunders and Florence Kopleff as soloists while HENRY correctly lists Phyllis Curtin as performing in the Sunday performance, along with Forrester, and reproduces Sunday’s program insert noting Kopleff’s “sudden illness” and Forrester’s agreement “at very short notice” to sing her solo part. As I recall, Curtin’s even shorter notice was announced from the stage, to a warm outburst from the audience.

    Comment by Cain — November 27, 2019 at 4:01 pm

  4. Thanks, folks. In other words, The LvB Missa has not been played at T’wood in 26 years — long enough to merit a performance in the “Beethoven250” anniversary season next year, instead of yet another Ninth.

    Comment by Don Drewecki — November 29, 2019 at 2:27 pm

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