BSO director James Levine will lead eight programs, including two full-length operas, and emeritus director Seiji Ozawa will return for two concerts, according to the BSO's season announcement Thursday.
The Tanglewood Music Center, the BSO's school for advanced study, will celebrate its 70th anniversary with the return of numerous alumni as BSO and TMC performers. Music by TMC composers from Aaron Copland to the present is on both organizations' schedules. The Pops will mark its 125th anniversary, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus its 40th. Composer- conductor John Williams will return for the 30th consecutive year to lead his annual Film Night.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will bring his Silk Road Project, which had its beginnings at Tanglewood in 2000, for a concert of music from Asia. A multimedia program will travel the "Carminos del Inka" - the roads of the Peruvian Incas. A medievalist will present the AngoSaxon epic "Beowulf" in speech and song.
But the eyes of the Berkshires will be on two beloved songwritersinger sons, Taylor and Guthrie.
Guthrie's Pops debut will take place on the afternoon of July 18, when he appears in the Shed with the Boston Pops under Keith Lockhart. That night, McDonald will follow with an Ozawa Hall recital titled "The New American Songbook."
Taylor returns from this past summer's five- day celebration for a pair of July 4th weekend concerts with his band. He'll be joined by singer Carole King as part of their 2010 world tour.
Though more eclectic than in the past, with nods to world music, the programming reflects a certain amount of caution in the face of the recession, according to BSO artistic administrator Anthony Fogg, who collaborates with Levine in the planning of programs.
"We've had to be very careful in our budgeting," Fogg said, citing minor trims in the use of guest artists. To cut down on travel, more musicians from United States - many of them TMC graduates - will be employed than in the past.
But, Fogg added, "We still are absolutely committed to presenting the strongest programming for the orchestra and our recital series. We have, I hope, some wonderful offerings and the finest soloists around. So in that sense, it's business as usual."
The customary eight- week BSO season opens on July 9 with Levine conducting Mahler's monumental " Resurrection" Symphony, one of three Mahler symphonies he will do. He is due back the podium next month after a two- month absence for back surgery.
Levine will also conduct two major operas: a staged, all-student production of Richard Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos" and a concert performance of Mozart's comic "The Abduction from the Seraglio" with the BSO. The Mozart cast will be headed by Lisette Oropesa, Ashley Emerson and Morris Robinson.
The "Abduction" performance continues a series of Mozart operas Levine has done with both the BSO and TMC students, beginning with "Don Giovanni" both in 2006 and last year.
A twin bill of shorter operas by past TMC chairmen of composition will offer concert performances of John Harbison's "A Full Moon in March" and Oliver Knussen's " Where the Wild Things Are." The latter is based on the same Maurice Sendak children's book as the current movie. In the Festival of Contemporary Music, students will perform under conductor Stefan Asbury.
Other highlights of Levine's sixth season include a Mahler Third Symphony with the TMC Orchestra. With the BSO, he'll do a Mahler Fourth, a pairing of Mozart's Requiem and Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms," and a program of Viennese bonbons by the Strauss family, plus Richard Strauss' "Don Quixote."
Ozawa will lead the BSO in a Brahms program, with pianist Peter Serkin as soloist, and do Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe" music with the TMC Orchestra.
Two former BSO assistant conductors who have gone on to significant careers will return with programs on the lighter side.
Robert Spano, now director of the Atlanta Symphony, will lead a jazz- inflected program of works by Gershwin, Gunther Schuller and Leonard Bernstein. Ludovic Morlot, a much-in-demand guest conductor, will be joined by soprano Dawn Upshaw in selections by Osvaldo Golijov and " Songs of the Auvergne."
The roster of returning guest conductors also includes Rafael Fruehbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, David Zinman and Kurt Masur. They are joined by two newcomers, Susanna Malkki of Finland and Giancarlo Guerrero of Costa Rica.
Soloists include Ma; violinists Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, Hilary Hahn and Pinchas Zukerman; and pianists Emanuel Ax, Gerhard Oppitz, Kirill Gerstein and Richard Goode.
A pre- BSO fortnight opens on June 26 with the annual visit by Garrison Keillor and his " Prairie Home Companion" radio show. It goes on to two performances by the Mark Morris Dance Group with TMC musicians, a Pops concert under Lockhart, and the pair of Taylor- King concerts on July 3 and 4.
The BSO season closes Aug. 29 with the traditional Beethoven Ninth Symphony, conducted by Masur. The Labor Day weekend jazz festival will follow.
The Ozawa Hall chamber series also offers a pair of Chopin recitals by pianist Garrick Ohlsson, the debut of early-music star Pieter Wispelwey in the complete Bach cello suites, and a recital by baritone Matthias Goerne. Chamber orchestras from Europe and Australia will be represented. Medievalist Benjamin Bagby will double as speaker and singer in the "Beowulf" program.
BSO and TMC leaders will provide further details to Tanglewood business supporters tonight at the Cranwell resort.
Tickets go on sale to the general public on Feb. 14. Prices, except for special events, range from $9 to $115, the same as the 2009 season. Brochures with complete programs and ticket ordering information will be available in midFebruary by calling ( 617) 638- 9467.