Tanglewood: Concertgoing is a family affair
297 West St. (Route 183), Lenox and Stockbridge
(888) 266-1200; tanglewood.org
Summer home of the Boston Symphony and the Tanglewood Music Center (the BSO's institute for advanced studies). Augmented by special events featuring pop, jazz, rock and folk artists.
Tickets: $9 (Friday night lawn) to $117 (Boston Pops, Shed front); lawn free (17 and under)
Season: June 21-Sept. 1
• Food and beverages: Casual dining and takeout at the Tanglewood Cafe (between the Shed and the Lion's Gate) and the Tanglewood Grill (near the Main Gate). Both open daily thru Aug. 26. (Hours vary according to performance schedules. Cafe also open to the general public weekdays noon to 2:30). Concession stands open before and during concerts. Concertgoers can bring in their own picnics.
• Visitors Center: Open daily as a one-stop information resource. (July 1-Aug. 2.).
• Lawn chairs, seat cushions: Available for rent before all concerts ($2 cushions, $5 chairs).
• Glass House Gift Shops: Clothing, rain gear, CDs, videos, etc. (Open thru Sept. 1).
• Walking Tours: Free, one hour, July 6-Aug. 25: Tuesdays 1:30 p.m., Wednesdays 10:30 a.m., Saturdays, 1:30 p.m. (Also Sundays 12:30 p.m. for concert ticket-holders only).
Low or free admission highlights:
• Family Fun Fest. Educational scavenger hunt and other family activities, June 28, 3-6 p.m. Free admission.
• BSO 101 at Tanglewood: "Listening Up Close." Music appreciation series, July 10, 12:45-2 p.m., Tent Club. Free. Also July 24, Aug. 7, Aug. 21.
• BSO Berkshire Night. Free tickets for all-Mozart program available in advance to 1,000 year-round Berkshire residents with ID, July 26.
• Tanglewood on Parade. All-day festival of events followed by 8:30 p.m. gala concert and fireworks on Aug. 6. Tickets free for young people under 18.
• Family concert. Designed to engage and inspire new generations of audiences, Aug. 24. Tickets: $10; free for young people under 18.
DID YOU KNOW?
1. While the Main Gate entrance and its parking lots are in Lenox, most of the Tanglewood property lies in Stockbridge as the town line bisects the campus.
2. As many as half of concertgoers don't realize they can bring in their own food and beverages, according to BSO officials.
3. Film composer and Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams visits Tanglewood at various seasons of the year, walking the grounds by himself seeking creative inspiration from the beauty of the surroundings.
The Boston Symphony has rolled out an extensive roster of family-friendly and youth-oriented incentives, said marketing chief Kim Noltemy.
"Inside the Shed, you see people who've been coming to Tanglewood for decades," she noted. "They all started by sitting on the lawn with their families or as part of summer camp groups. It's incumbent on us to overcome a variety of barriers to bring families to Tanglewood. If this groundwork is not laid now, we won't be successful in the future."
Noltemy observed that 20 years ago, concert tickets were relatively inexpensive, but prices are now "much higher as a proportion of what people have available for spending money."
Offerings include free admission to the lawn for anyone under 18 for all but Popular Artists events, $9 lawn tickets on Friday night for those 18 and older, a "grass pass" admitting Berkshire residents to most concerts for $75 per season (others pay $200) and, new this summer, $20 tickets to BSO and Boston Pops Shed concerts, plus Ozawa Hall recitals, for anyone under 40, depending on availability.
Another first-time offering: a $25 "college card" admitting students to an unlimited number of classical concerts all summer.
"This gives Berkshire college students, and those from the Pioneer Valley, Boston, New York City and the Albany area an incentive to make the trip," Noltemy said.
For Rob and Alison Stevens, of Lexington, free lawn passes for youngsters under 18 enable her son Trevor, nearly 5, and Adela, going on 3, to soak up classical music in a non-challenging setting.
"We've been bringing them since they were infants," said Alison Stevens. "They can enjoy the music in their own way, they don't have to take it all in on an adult timeline."
According to Stevens, her kids "love it, especially watching the musicians play even from the lawn. As a result, they really enjoy music. We expose our children to music, and this is another way to make sure they experience it in a live setting."
Having made annual treks to Tanglewood even before her children were born, Stevens said the family concert was a first-time destination last year, as well as a more traditional concert; they'll be back for more music under the stars in August.
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