The determination to "build out the shoulders" on Tanglewood pays greater dividends with each passing summer, which should help assure a successful long-term future for the venerable Berkshire institution.
Tanglewood began its summer season June 17, its earliest opener ever, with a Dolly Parton concert, and by the time James Taylor completed his July 4 weekend concerts, Tanglewood had drawn more than 100,000 fans for 10 Popular Artists concerts (Eagle, July 7). As BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe, who has been building out the shoulder months around the BSO schedule, observed, this all came before the BSO, which begins its season tonight, played a note.
The success of the gradually expanded June concert schedule generates revenue for Tanglewood, local restaurants, motels and inns, and over a three-day weekend brings people into the Berkshires who will likely visit other cultural attractions. Locals and visitors who enjoyed an afternoon or evening in the shed or on the famous lawn may even return for an evening of classical music. Ideally, the other "shoulder" month of September, a traditionally gorgeous month in the Berkshires, can ultimately be expanded with popular music concerts past Labor Day weekend.
The BSO draws well on some evenings, less so on others, and people who believe they don't like classical music or think it is too high brow may be pleasantly surprised. An example of classical music's accessibility comes Saturday night when Jacques Lacombe conducts Orff's "Carmina burana." A powerhouse instantly recognizable from movies and movie trailers, this is the classical equivalent of Springsteen-style rock-and-roll. Classical and opera merit checking out — at worst, you'll have spent a few hours at beautiful Tanglewood.
The Mount's escape from near bankruptcy offers more early summer good news (Eagle, July 7). The Lenox-based home of the Edith Wharton Restoration is out from under the debt that threatened to crush it for several years and amassed a small surplus for its most recent fiscal year under Executive Director Susan Wissler.
While Ms. Wissler cautions that the Mount must still build its endowment, major renovation and expansion projects are going forward all over the grounds with a goal toward remaining open year-round or close to it. Ideally, the Mount's struggles are in the past.