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Why Come to Tanglewood This Summer

Here’s what to know about the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the Berkshires.

Why Come to Tanglewood This Summer

Andris Nelsons conducts Boston Symhony Orchestra in Mahler 3 with soloist Susan Graham at Tanglewood Music Festival, 8/24/18. Photo by Chris Lee


Since 1936, Tanglewood, a bucolic 210-acre estate in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts, has hosted a world-famous lineup of summertime concerts and cultural events. Featuring weekly performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, as well as luminaries from the realms of opera, jazz, folk, and rock, Tanglewood has long been a cherished pilgrimage site for music lovers. Each year during the mid-June to early-September performance season, some 350,000 visitors converge on the estate to listen and learn.

The Performances
Best known for its classical music concerts, Tanglewood has been the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937. The 2019 Tanglewood schedule kicks off on July 5 and features nine BSO performances led by renowned Music Director Andris Nelson.

You can also enjoy special collaborations with premier pianists like Jean-Yves Thibaudet, conducted by Andris Nelsons (July 21), and Nikolai Lugansky, conducted by Rafael Payare (August 10). Come for a weekend of Wagner (July 27–28) and come back to experience the magic of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, performing all six of Bach’s Suites for Solo Cello (August 11). And don’t miss the Boston Pops and their live orchestral accompaniment of Star Wars: A New Hope (August 16).

Tanglewood celebrates a wide variety of other musical styles, too. As part of its Popular Artist Series, the 2019 season will welcome venerable rock, folk, country, and pop performers such as Postmodern Jukebox (June 22), Squeeze (August 29), and Reba McEntire (September 1).


New Seminars and Workshops
For the first time this summer, Tanglewood has expanded its offerings to include a roster of workshops, open rehearsals, and talks with some of the leading lights of the arts world. This new initiative, the Tanglewood Learning Institute allows visitors a more deeply personal, interactive understanding of the visual, literary, and performing arts.

Among the inaugural 2019 TLI programs are engaging discussions with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin; open studio sessions with Renée Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma; and master conducting classes with BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons and Noord Nederlands Orkest conductor Stefan Asbury. A limited number of tickets are available for these exclusive events.


What the Concert Experience is Like
Along with its top-caliber performers, Tanglewood’s fully immersive, alfresco concertgoing experience is what makes its events truly distinctive among music fans. While the estate includes several intimate performance venues, including the 1,200-seat Seiji Ozawa Hall and a smaller Chamber Music Hall, its headline concerts take place in the Koussevitzky Music Shed—a dramatic, open-walled pavilion designed by Eliel Saarinen that seats 5,100 audience members in a fan-shaped seating configuration.

Many Tanglewood concertgoers forgo seats inside “The Shed” to partake in a time-honored summertime tradition: Staking out spots on the estate’s sweeping green lawns, which (thanks to LED projection screens and amplifiers) offer near-perfect acoustic and visual enjoyment of the performers inside. Those who purchase lawn tickets often arrive hours before the evening concerts begin to spread out blankets and sometimes even playpens, since lawn tickets to most events are free for children under 17.


Once they’ve secured spots on the lawn, visitors typically spend the pre-concert hours wandering the estate’s beautifully landscaped grounds or feasting on elaborate picnics—which can be brought from home or picked up from one of several concessions on the property (those who order in advance can also take advantage of Tanglewood’s Meals to Go menu).

Then, as the sun dips low and the first strains of music begin to drift from inside The Shed, concertgoers can savor the culmination of their uniquely special Tanglewood experience: Listening to some of the world’s most superlative musicians while stars fill the sky overhead. See the full Tanglewood summer lineup and to purchase tickets.

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