Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Lenox, Mass., is welcoming music lovers back. The outdoor venue had to keep fans away last year due to the pandemic. But on Thursday, the BSO announced a slate of performances at Tanglewood for the summer season. In an interview with GBH All Things Considered host Arun Rath, Tanglewood director Tony Fogg discussed what's on the bill, as well as what coronavirus restrictions will be in place.
"We've had to craft the set-up of the shed at Tanglewood," Fogg said. "We've thought about social distancing on the lawn for the audience itself. So it will be a different experience for sure, with a significantly reduced capacity in both the shed and on the lawn. But we think that the glorious sound of the Boston Symphony will lift spirits. And even though we may not be there with as many of our friends as we've experienced in the past, it will still be that great communion between music and nature and landscape."
Besides audience limits, Fogg said the size and makeup of the orchestra itself will be adjusted. "We'll have between about 65 and 75 musicians on stage for our programs, which is somewhat smaller than typical. So we've had to craft the programs to work within those limits. We won't be hearing any vocal music this summer."
The Tanglewood schedule includes a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, which Fogg said carries special meaning. "It was the first piece that the Boston Symphony played on the Tanglewood property in 1937," Fogg said. "The piece itself really carries great symbolism, I think, for all of us, just through the journey that it represents from darkness to light. And I think particularly at the very moment where we're in some way or other seeing a light at the end of the tunnel through this difficult period, I think it will have a stronger-than-usual message."
In addition to classical mainstays like Beethoven, the summer performace schedule features pieces by women composers and composers of color, including Mary Lou Williams and Vijay Iyer. "I think we've tried to be responsible and be responsive to many of the societal focuses that are part of our dialog nowadays as it relates to representation," Fogg said.
According to Fogg, the Tanglewood schedule won't be limited to classical performances. "We're hoping to have some performances in the popular music genre, and today we announced that James Taylor will be with us on the 21st of August, which is always welcome news for fans."
Due to an editing error, a pervious version of this storry misspelled one instance of Tanglewood director Tony Fogg's last name.