Boston University's Tanglewood Institute music program 'under review'
LENOX -- The future of Boston University's Tanglewood Institute, housed in an ornate mansion on a campus halfway between downtown and the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is on the line, university officials confirmed.
The summer institute for 250 to 300 high school music students is not connected with the BSO nor with the orchestra's Tanglewood Music Center, which hosts more than 150 college-age and advanced young professional musicians. But BUTI students perform at Ozawa Hall and other sites on the Tanglewood grounds.
"We are reviewing the status of BUTI to determine if we're making the best use of limited resources to advance the mission of BU's College of Fine Arts," Colin Riley, executive director of media relations, said in a brief telephone interview.
"The review is ongoing and no decisions have been made," Riley added. In response to unconfirmed reports that the BUTI campus at 45 West St. may be for sale, he said: "It is not on the market to my knowledge."
The dean of BU's College of Fine Arts, Benjamin Juarez, was out of the country Friday and not available for comment.
A Facebook petition seeking support for BUTI has been circulating as a joint effort of concerned faculty members.
"We're seeing more writing on the wall that there isn't a solution in sight," said Samuel Solomon, a BU School of Fine Arts faculty member who also teaches at the summer institute.
"Many of us wanted to sound the alarm some time ago," he added, but until recently had kept quiet out of respect for the university.
According to Solomon, the Lenox campus has been "underfunded and is in a considerable state of disrepair." He cited corroded water pipes, mold on the walls and other issues.
"There's been no real investment to make it sustainable," he added. "There are some historic buildings but it's come to the point where it may not be safe to have kids there."
One scenario would relocate the BUTI program to the university's Boston campus, said Solomon. He explained that the university has suffered from federal budget cuts under what is known as the sequester. He cited a medical research program at BU that had to be eliminated, causing layoffs.
"The sequester has made BU tight about what programs they're funding," he said. "BU is definitely hurting and they're trying to cut where they can."
Solomon cited uncertainty in the university's administration on whether the summer institute is of direct value. "BU probably looks at this property as a money pit," he said.
"The whole reason it's excellent is that it's in the Berkshires," Solomon said.
BUTI opened at 1966 at the invitation of the BSO's music director at the time, Erich Leinsdorf, as a counterpart to the TMC. According to BU's website, the institute "is recognized internationally as the premiere summer training program for aspiring high school-age musicians and is the only program of its kind associated with one of the world's great symphony orchestras."
The West Street campus formerly housed Holliston Junior College and, before that, the Windsor Mountain School for Girls until Boston University acquired it about 30 years ago. More recently, it was the site of the short-lived Berkshire Country Day School's high-school program.
Currently, 80 percent of BUTI's music activities are held off-campus in space rented from Berkshire Country Day School and the Morris Elementary School, among other locations.
"We've been scouring the area for facilities," Solomon said. "But there's nothing in the area to fill this role. The only option would appear to be to relocate it."
As a former BUTI and TMC student for six summers, Solomon, a percussionist, noted that the program's location adjacent to Tanglewood has been its major asset. He pointed out that students have access to all Boston Symphony and Tanglewood Music Center concerts, rehearsals, master classes, visiting artists, composers, performers and conductors.
"That's where the real education happens," he said. "That's the thing we're fighting for."
To contact Clarence Fanto:
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