LENOX -- Although Boston Symphony Managing Director Mark Volpe acknowledges that the all-star 75th anniversary Tanglewood season is hard to top, or even match, the 2013 summer schedule announced on Monday offers what he termed a "very strong, eclectic" lineup.
As one of the nation's only surviving summertime bastions of Western art music, the June 23-Sept. 1 season, including the usual eight-week BSO residency, features concerts led by three conductors often mentioned, though not by management, as contenders for the music director post vacated by James Levine last year because of injuries and poor health.
There are special programs marking 200th birth-anniversaries of famous composers -- Verdi's Requiem and Wagner's opera "Die Walkure: Act 3" -- as well as Mahler's Symphony No. 3 and a concert performance of John Harbison's opera "The Great Gatsby" by the Boston-based group Em manuel Music to mark the composer's 75th birthday.
Veteran maestros, including Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Bernard Haitink, Christoph von Dohnanyi and Charles Dutoit, will be on the BSO podium, and Tanglewood regulars such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianists Emanuel Ax and Peter Serkin, violinist Joshua Bell, the Mark Morris Dancers, and Garrison Keillor (hosting the 14th annual live broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion") will be returning.
But the season announcement prominently highlights an array of audience-favored box office attractions, notably the return of John Williams' Film Night, with Broadway superstar Audra McDonald. It's one of five Boston Pops events that will showcase actor, comedian, musician and author Steve Martin with his bluegrass Steep Canyon Rangers (June 23), country singer Vince Gill (July 7), and Great American Songbook performer and curator Michael Feinstein (Aug. 16).
Volpe cited attendance figures exceeding 10,000 for each of last summer's three Boston Pops concerts as an incentive for adding two more to the lineup.
Williams will share conducting duties on Film Night (Aug. 24) with Hollywood film composer David Newman. Volpe said Williams, 80, "has to pace himself and plans to come to Tanglewood as long as he's able to." Newman, 58, is credited with nearly 100 Hollywood scores and Williams has described him as a "major talent," according to Volpe.
Among the special concerts that Volpe cited as unique to Tanglewood is a July 13th full-length screening of the classic 1961 film "West Side Story," with the BSO performing Leonard Bernstein's much-loved score in sync with the original movie soundtrack vocals and dialogue. The show, already performed by the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony, is produced and conducted by Newman.
"Tanglewood is the perfect place to do it since it was so closely aligned with Bern stein," said Volpe, referring to the conductor-composer's near ly annual residencies with the BSO and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra of young professionals from 1946 to 1990.
Still to be announced in January will be an extensive lineup of Popular Artists concerts, anywhere from five to seven bookings, including July 4 and one or two Labor Day weekend events, Volpe said. He explained that the announcement is delayed because the performers the BSO is seeking are still lining up their summertime tour schedules.
As first reported in The Eagle last month, James Taylor is not be scheduled next summer because he is devoting the upcoming year to his new album of original material, his first in a decade. Taylor has released his backup singers and band since he will not be touring.
"It's a challenge replacing JT," Volpe said. "The pop music world doesn't work on our timetable."
Volpe said the Popular Art ists bookings would be for open Shed dates before and after the eight-week BSO residency, in addition to several during the mid-summer period.
In a telephone interview from his Boston office, Volpe said the summer lineup of BSO guest conductors includes a mix of well-known maestros with long ties to the orchestra as well as younger up-and-comers.
Returning will be Andris Nelsons and Stephane Deneve, who made auspicious Tangle wood debuts last summer, along with the summer-season debut of Vladimir Jurowski, principal conductor of the London Philharmonic. All three have figured in speculation about potential successors to Levine.
As in the past, Volpe declined to discuss specific contenders for the job. But he stressed that there's no timeline for an announcement, which may or may not come before the Tanglewood season begins.
"It's a dynamic process," Volpe said, adding that the orchestra's search committee continues to perform its "due diligence."
Among audience-friendly in novations for next summer is a new $20 ticket offer to concertgoers under 40 for Shed seats to BSO and Boston Pops performances, a concept Volpe des cribed as very successful at Symphony Hall in Boston. Free lawn tickets for young people 17 and under and a 50 percent discount for college and graduate students on the lawn will continue to be offered.
For the "core part of the audience that wants to learn more and more," Volpe explained, BSO 101 music-appreciation discussions, with recorded examples, will be introduced on Wednesday afternoons at the Tanglewood Tent Club, while "Underscore Fridays" at selected evening BSO concerts will feature orchestra players introducing compositions from the stage and "talking about themselves in a compelling, funny way," Volpe said.
Opening night of the BSO season is July 5, with Fruhbeck de Burgos conducting an all-Tchaikovsky program featuring violinist Joshua Bell. The season closes Aug. 25 with the perennial Beethoven Ninth Symphony, led by eminent BSO Conductor Emeritus Bernard Haitink. Among the summer's vocal soloists are bass Bryn Terfel and soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. All-Beethoven, all-Mozart and all-Baroque programs are on the schedule.
A dozen leading piano soloists -- including Ax and Serkin and Lang Lang, Garrick Ohlsson, Yefim Bronfman, Leif Ove Andsnes and Leon Fleisher -- will be in the spotlight.
In one of his two Tanglewood appearances, Yo-Yo Ma will re-create his crossover Goat Rodeo recording sessions, collaborating with string players Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan.
Ticket sales to the general public begin on Jan. 27. Information: www.tanglewood.org.
Tanglewood season highlights
• Sunday, June 23 -- Boston Pops with Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. Edie Brickell.,special guest. Keith Lockhart, conductor. 2:30 p.m. The Shed
• Saturday, June 29 -- "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor. Live broadcast. 5:45 p.m. The Shed
• Thursday, July 4 -- Popular artist TBA. 7 p.m. The Shed
• Friday, July 5 -- Boston Symphony Orchestra Opening Night -- Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor; Joshua Bell, violin. All-Tchaikovsky Program. 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Saturday, July 6 -- BSO. Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor; Annie Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano. Mahler -- Symphony No. 3. Women of the Tanglewood Chorus; PALS Childrens Chorus. 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Sunday, July 7 -- Boston Pops with Vince Gill. Keith Lockhart, conductor
• Thursday, July 11 -- "The Great Gatsby" by John Harbison. Concert version. Orchestra and Chorus of Emmanuel Music -- Ryan Turner, conductor. 7:30 p.m. Ozawa Hall
• Saturday, July 13 -- BSO. "West Side Story." Live accompaniment to screening of newly remastered film with original vocals and dialogue intact. David Newman, conductor. 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Thursday, July 18 -- Bryn Terfel, baritone. German and English art songs. 8 p.m. Ozawa Hall
• Friday, July 19 -- BSO. Vladimir Jurowski, conductor; Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano. Music by Wagner, Liszt, Beethoven (Mahler orchestration). 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Saturday, July 20 -- BSO. Wagner's "Die Walküre," Act 3. Katarina Dalayman, soprano; Amber Wagner, soprano, Bryn Terfel, bass-baritone; Lothar Koenigs, conductor. 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Friday, July 26 -- BSO. Christoph Eschenbach, conductor and piano; Christine Schäfer, soprano. All-Mozart program. 8:30 p;.m. The Shed
• Saturday, July 27 -- BSO. Verdi Requiem. Andris Nelsons, conductor; soloists; Tanglewood Festival Chorus. 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Wednesday, July 31 / Thursday, Aug. 1 -- Tanglewood Music Center Fellows. Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" and Benjamin Britten's "Curlew River." Choreographed and directed by Mark Morris. 7:30 p.m. Ozawa Hall
• Friday, Aug. 2 -- BSO. Serge and Olga Koussevitzky Memorial Concert -- Stéphane Dèneve, conductor; Leif Ove Andsnes, piano. Music by R. Strauss, Beethoven, Poulenc. Tanglewood Festival Chorus. 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Saturday, Aug. 3 -- BSO. Charles Dutoit, conductor; Lang Lang, piano. Music by Ravel, Beethoven. 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Sunday, Aug. 4 -- BSO. Dutoit, conductor; Yo-Yo Ma, cello. Musc by Stravinsky, Dvorak. 2:30 p.m. The Shed
• Tuesday, Aug. 6 -- Tanglewood on Parade. 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Aug. 8-12 -- 2013 Festival of Contemporary Music culminating with U.S.premiere of George Benjamin's "Written on Skin" (concert version). Ozawa Hall
• Wednesday, Aug. 14 -- Emerson String Quartet. 8 p.m. Ozawa Hall
• Thursday, Aug. 15 -- The Goat Rodeo Show. Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Edgar Meyer, bass; Chris Thile, mandolin; Stuart Duncan, fiddle; Aoife O'Donovan, vocalist. 8 p.m Ozawa Hall
• Friday, Aug. 16 -- Boston Pops with Michael Feinstein. Keith Lockhart, conductor. 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Sunday, Aug. 18 -- Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert -- Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor; Emanuel Ax, piano. Music by Mozart, Mahler. 2:30 p.m. The Shed
• Saturday, Aug. 24 -- John Williams' Film Night -- Boston Pops with Audra MacDonald. John Williams, David Newman, conductors. 8:30 p.m. The Shed
• Sunday, Aug. 25 -- BSO Season Finale -- Beethoven Symphony No. 9. Berhard Haitink, conductor; vocal soloiosts; Tanglewood Festival Chorus. 2:30 p.m. The Shed.
Popular Artists Series
Concerts to be announced in January
Regular season concerts -- $9-$117.
Tickets go on public sale Jan. 27. Details available at tanglewood.org