Sunday July 15, 2012

LENOX -- Amid an outpouring of glitter, glamour and glitz, Tanglewood put on a supersized party and marathon concert spectacular Saturday night to celebrate its 75th anniversary on the bucolic campus that ranks as the county's most-visited attraction.

A three-hour reception and dinner attended by Gov. Deval Patrick, trustees, overseers, board members and donors was held in an array of connected tents decorated in 1930s Art Deco nightclub style, festooned with a dozen suspended crystal chandeliers.

The benefit for the Boston Symphony's educational activities at Tanglewood, combined with ticket sales, yielded well over $1 million before expenses, BSO officials said. Of that total, more than $850,000 was raised from the 563 contributors who attended the sold-out dinner.

The gala, slated to run 21 2 hours, attracted a throng of well over 15,000, said BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe.

BSO leaders agreed it was the biggest celebratory event Tanglewood has seen.

The concert, which featured the BSO, the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra of advanced young pre-professionals, was led by conductors Andris Nelsons, Keith Lockhart, John Will iams, David Zinman and Stefan Asbury.

For Nelsons, it was a high-profile appearance as the orchestra continues its search for a new music director to succeed James Levine, who retired last year because of poor health.


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Nelsons, a dynamic 33-year-old Latvian-born maestro who has led many of the world's top orchestras, has described himself as an interested candidate for the post. Volpe remains mum on the search process out of respect for the individuals involved.

During a brief backstage interview, Nelsons -- making his Tanglewood debut and only his second appearance with the orchestra -- de scribed the BSO as "amazing" and praised its sound as "very European." He called the orchestra "responsive and flexible."

"It's a dream for every conductor to have such a responsive orchestra," he added.

Nelsons is in his fourth year as music director of the prestigious City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in Eng land, where his contract expires in 2014.

"He's an uncanny combination of (former music directors) Seiji Ozawa and James Levine," a longtime Tangle wood observer commented, referring to Nelsons' kinetic podium technique and his painstaking approach in rehearsal.

Saturday night's program included three show tunes performed by James Taylor with the Boston Pops, as well as selections spotlighting cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and pianists Emanuel Ax and Peter Serkin, as well as the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

Ma read a thank-you message from Seiji Ozawa, who was awarded the first Tanglewood Medal but could not attend because of ill health.

To reach Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6247
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto