On the Lawn: Fun and seasons in sun


There likely are as many stories about visitors' experiences on the Tanglewood lawn as there are blades of grass.

It has been traversed and rested upon, not only by concertgoers and celebrities, but by musicians, dignitaries and grounds workers. Countless graduation ceremonies and Josh Billings Run aground races have been held there, and afterward, hundreds of people have tread upon the lawn in search of picturesque photo opps and picnic spots.

A Berkshire County native myself, I have several memories from the Tanglewood lawn, from gawking at elaborate feasts, spreads and decor people roll in with, to attending various ceremonies and concerts.

But my earliest memory was of my mother graduating from Berkshire Community College. I was about 212, and it was the first time I had heard bagpipes. My mother said I was delighted and that I told her I looked forward to my own graduation, just because of the bagpipes.

A former newsroom colleague of mine, Kerry Sullivan, also shared some childhood tales.

"We used to get two lawn tickets and two Shed tickets, and my parents would take turns chaperoning my sister and me inside the Shed while the other two of us would stay on the lawn and listen to the BSO under the stars," she said.

As they got older, Sullivan explored the gardens and grounds with her sister, familiarizing themselves with Boston Symphony Orchestra members, and enjoying classical instruments, particularly the harp.

"Tanglewood on Parade and the July 4th concerts were always the pinnacles of the season. Even now, whenever I hear the ‘1812 Overture,' I add in my own cannon noises -- ‘Boom!' -- during that most recognizable melody."

Amy Wolfe of Pittsfield remembers her first Tanglewood experience -- her fourth wedding anniversary.

"I had only lived in the Berkshires a short time and had never been to Tanglewood but had always wanted to go," she said.

Though her husband, Steve, had bought Shed seats, they started the evening on the lawn with chairs, a blanket, and a cooler filled with snacks and drinks.

"It was heavenly! I was staring up at the stars listening to the most beautiful music I think I'd ever heard," she said. " I became a fan that night. Classical music made its way onto my iPod forever."

Devorah Olewnik, a former Berkshires resident who lives in Cheshire, Conn., has been building a mental scrapbook of Tanglewood memories with her family and friends for 30 years.

"We prefer the lawn because we enjoy the atmosphere," she said.

She and her husband, Richard, brought their two children, Allyson and Justin. They were always among the first at the gates when they opened.

"Our kids were taught that when the first note of music began, they had to be quiet," Devorah said, adding that the children brought their sleeping bags and made tents out of them and played cards.

Over the years, Olewnik's children maintained ties to Tanglewood. Her daughter was a student of and counselor for the DARTS (Days in the Arts) program, and her son was a bartender at the venue. Both students had graduation ceremonies there.

Last year, the family went for a Fourth of July concert and sat behind the benches at the back of the Shed. On a small table, in between the glasses of wine and guacamole dip, Devorah put an arrangement of blue hydrangeas from her garden into a galvanized metal bucket with a U.S. flag and a small, lighted tree.

"I'm smiling just thinking about it. People kept stopping by to take pictures," she said.

This year the Olewniks will travel to Tan glewood for the 75th-anniversary cele bra tion, featuring James Taylor, on July 14.

It also happens to be Devorah's birthday.

"I think it's just a part of us. The draw is to continue our love for Tanglewood," she said.


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