Tanglewood's Linde Center programs to feature top musicians, authors

Tanglewood's new Linde Center for Music and Learning is home to the new Tanglewood Learning Institute, set to launch this summer. The four-building complex also will offer year-round programming, and be available for event rental by the Berkshire community.

LENOX — Leading personalities from the music world, government, and theater will be the hallmark of this summer's grand opening of Tanglewood's new Linde Center for Music and Learning.

The completion of the four-building, all-season complex marks the most significant transformation of the 524-acre campus since Ozawa Hall opened in 1994.

"You have structures that are heated and air-conditioned, allowing us to have much greater presence in the Berkshires and serve not only our mission, but the missions of our sister and brother arts organizations, and other educational and civic institutions," said Boston Symphony Orchestra President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Volpe. "The second element is that these buildings are works of art unto themselves and certainly complement the connection between music and nature. These buildings are true to that tradition."

The $33 million center will be the home to the Tanglewood Learning Institute (TLI), which aims to connect the public with BSO performers, guest artists, advanced students of the Tanglewood Music Center and cultural leaders. Funding was provided through a $64 million "Tanglewood Forever" campaign.

The schedule of 140 ticketed events includes four deep-immersion weekends, numerous special events, guest speakers, master classes. a seven-week Sunday evening film series in collaboration with the Berkshire International Film Festival, and a new 200-seat indoor/outdoor cafe open to the public for mingling with artists and students.

Among the big-name artists and speakers are cellist Yo-Yo Ma; Hollywood's most celebrated film composer and longtime Tanglewood eminence, John Williams; composer, conductor and pianist Andre Previn; soprano Renee Fleming; BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons; and pianist Emanuel "Manny" Ax. Also on the schedule are former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, historian/author Doris Kearns Goodwin, and award-winning playwright/screenwriter Tom Stoppard.

The opening of the TLI at the Linde Center augments the orchestra's 82-year summer residency at Tanglewood. As a bridge to thought-provoking dialogue for adults seeking broader horizons and connections with other knowledge-seekers, the events are designed to explore ways to better understand the world through the inspiration of music.

Modeled in part on the success of the One Day University concept, as well as a popular Speaker Series at Symphony Hall in Boston, the TLI's goal is to break down the traditional barriers between performers and the public.

In a bid to attract newcomers to Tanglewood and to heighten the concert-going experience for veteran festival patrons, the TLI programs are intended to blend into a cultural landscape valuing active engagement and learning.

"TLI's expansive programs will explore the ways in which music illuminates the human experience by linking Tanglewood performances to relevant themes from the worlds of visual arts, film, history, philosophy and current events," according to a BSO announcement.

Participants can attend one-time events or purchase passes on a monthly or full-season basis, with admission to a range of special programs.

The inaugural season opens with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting June 28 for the community, builders, donors and staff. Free open houses and special events for the public are scheduled June 29, June 30 and July 1. Additional free open houses and TLI programs for visitors of all ages are scheduled for July 12, designated as Berkshire Night, as well as Aug. 6 and Aug. 25.

While much of the summertime programming caters to older generations with time, interest and money to spend on new cultural experiences, Volpe also cited "some funky stuff," such as appearances by innovative cabaret performance artist Meow Meow (Melissa Madden Gray), the Australian-born actress, dancer and singer.

"There are a few things we're going to do that are unexpected," he said. "This is for the curious who want to experience something. There's been some wealth created in this generation, and people, because of the miracles of modern medical research, are living longer, hopefully a good number who are curious."

'Inspiration and joy'

The mission is twofold: Drawing audiences into a deeper appreciation of classical music in general and Tanglewood performances specifically, but also branching out into exploration of cutting-edge ideas in the wider culture.

"We hope the introduction of the Tanglewood Learning Institute this summer will bring our patrons and friends inspiration and joy to accompany their Tanglewood concert experience," Nelsons said in a prepared statement.

"Serge Koussevitzky was a legendary BSO leader who founded Tanglewood in 1937 and the Tanglewood Music Center in 1940, remarkably, during periods of extraordinary difficulty leading up to and during World War II," he said. "We hope that he would be happy with us for carrying out and furthering his vision for Tanglewood in a way that we believe reflects our own time. Maestro Koussevitsky's visionary leadership continues to be an inspiration to us all and to the development of the Tanglewood Learning Institute."

Tanglewood Learning Institute's four immersion weekends are the institute's major events, focusing on prime attractions of the Tanglewood concert season with conversations, lectures, films, panel discussions, master class and rehearsal access, musical demonstrations and workshops, along with behind-the-scenes encounters with the featured musicians.

Additional programs, grouped into nine categories, will be presented throughout the summer.

During the week, the Linde Center will provide much-needed rehearsal and performance space for the young artists of the Tanglewood Music Center, the BSO's summer academy.

In his statement, Nelsons cited the Linde family, "whose involvement and leadership gift have played a major role in bringing this project to life. We hope the Tanglewood Learning Institute programs and the opening of the Linde Center will inspire visitors to discover the many gifts Tanglewood has to offer."

From early September through mid-June, the complex will be available for rental by event and concert organizers in the Berkshires and beyond, and for use by the BSO, TLI and the general Berkshire community, including educational and civic functions.

Off-peak (November to April) rental prices for space in the Linde Center range from $2,500 for the smallest studio to $6,500 for the largest. Peak pricing (May to October) varies from $3,000 to $8,000. Discounted pricing for nonprofit organizations remains to be announced.

The Tanglewood Learning Institute also will offer programs in Boston beginning next fall, as well as a series of online learning programs beginning next year.

Sue Elliott, appointed the Tanglewood Learning Institute director last August, oversees and develops the programming for the institute, working with Tony Fogg, BSO artistic administrator and director of Tanglewood.

"TLI's defining quality is curiosity — curiosity in our work, and inspiring curiosity in our participants," Elliott said. "Our programs and spaces will be welcoming, experimental, interdisciplinary and eclectic. We expect to engage existing audiences and a wide variety of curious people who have direct and indirect affinities for what we offer, regardless of their musical knowledge. Furthermore, we're grateful for the warm welcome our new buildings have received and look forward to the new partnerships that will develop."

The four-building complex was designed by architects William Rawn Associates and Reed Hilderbrand, landscape architect, who also is leading campuswide horticultural upgrades.

Versatile spaces

The Linde Center is perched atop the Highwood ridge overlooking the Ozawa Lawn, gathered around a 100-foot tall red oak, with a serpentine covered walkway connecting each building, and framing views and paths through the landscape.

Studio E, equipped with technology to accommodate performance, rehearsal and educational offerings, can be adjusted to support recital, chamber music and chamber orchestra performances with a seated audience of up to 250; performances by larger ensembles, with an audience of 190; rehearsals for a full orchestra as well as large ensembles; lectures for an audience of 270, and social and dining events. Robust audio-visual technology will support recording and digital learning, giving the content created in the space a global reach.

The Gordon Family Studio, which can seat an audience of 60, and the Volpe Family Studio, with an audience capacity of 40, will host TMC rehearsals and performances, as well as TLI events. The Gordon Family Studio can accommodate audiences of 60 and the Volpe Family Studio can seat 40.

Named by BSO Trustee Cynthia Curme and her husband, Oliver, Cindy's Cafe has 150 seats and 50 more on the outside patio. It's designed as an informal gathering place for musicians and audience members, serving as a hub for visitors, TMC Fellows and faculty and TLI participants.

The four buildings also will accommodate the activities of the BSO, including providing needed rehearsal space for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

The parking lot is accessed from Hawthorne Road, near the corner of Hawthorne Street. The GPS address is 3A Hawthorne Road.

Money raised by the Tanglewood Forever campaign, launched quietly in 2012, now totals $61.5 million, approaching the $64 million goal to support the four-building construction, the TLI programs and an endowment for the BSO's programming, upgrades to facilities such as the Ozawa Hall entrance, and landscape initiatives on the main 330-acre campus and its 100 varied buildings and structures.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.