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Tony Bennett And Lady Gaga Part Of Tanglewood Music Center's 75th Anniversary


Temperatures are starting to drop in the Northeast. That means it’s time to start thinking about warm summer days and green grass, right? Well, at least the Boston Symphony Orchestra is. The company released its 2015 Tanglewood season lineup Thursday.The 75th anniversary of the Tanglewood Music Center kicks off June 20th. And it features an eyebrow-raising duo, revealed by the Boston Symphony’s managing director Mark Volpe.

“Tony Bennett loves Tanglewood and has been to Tanglewood many times, but we felt it was time for Lady Gaga to experience the Berkshires,” said Volpe.

You heard right, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga will perform titles from their Cheek to Cheek album June 30th at the Lenox-based festival. The unlikely duo, as well as Diana Krall along with Huey Lewis and the News, headli ne the popular artist series, which is still being finalized. Andris Nelsons made his Tanglewood debut in 2012 and is now going full-bore as the BSO’s music director. Volpe has big hopes for him.

“Ultimately what we hope for is him becoming more familiar and more comfortable in the Berkshires,” Volpe said. “He’s doing six programs and we’re taking a good number of those programs throughout the world. Right after we’re done with Tanglewood we fly to London and we play the BBC proms, we go to Saltsburg, Paris, Berlin and Milan. So it’s a big summer for us first and foremost in the Berkshires, then we take what we’ve been sharing with the Berkshires for decades through the world.”

With tributes to Beethoven, Mozart and Mahler’s Symphony 8, Nelsons says he plans to deliver.

“My task is to share our music with lots of audiences in Boston, in America, at Tanglewood and worldwide,” Nelsons said. “To show how great the orchestra is and how great classic music is and how necessary it is for our souls. Music is like food for our souls.”

Favorites like NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops, complete with circus performers, are slated for returns, as is John Williams Film Night, which has drawn 18,000 people in past years. To celebrate 75 years of Tanglewood’s music school, Volpe says student performers will be joined by some of the more than 10,000 musicians who have passed through its doors.

“We have commissioned 30 composers that have all written new works for many of these student concerts,” Volpe explained. “Then we have these incredible archives, so we are going to be releasing some performances led by Leonard Bernstein, [Serge] Koussevitzky, James Levine and Charles Munch. All will be available through our web platform so they will be free downloads celebrating the 75th anniversary of the school.”

Three quarters of a century after he founded Tanglewood Music Center, Serge Koussevitzky will be honored by an artist series, as described by Volpe.

“We’re honoring him by creating a new title called “The Koussevitzky Artists,” Volpe said. “Yo-Yo Ma who is scheduled to do performances with the Boston Symphony and Emanuel Axe are the first in hopefully a long line of Koussevitzky Artists. Both of those gentlemen are performing at least four times at Tanglewood and doing other work with the school teaching.”

More than 330,000 people attended performances at Tanglewood in 2014. The season also marked the return of Tanglewood favorite James Taylor for an Independence Day concert series. This July 4th is slated to feature a “favorite, popular artist” yet to be named. The season runs till the end of August. Tickets go on sale January 25.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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