LENOX — Following guidance from the Tri-Town Health Department, the state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Boston Symphony’s plans for this summer’s Tanglewood festival now include 3 feet of separation between ticket holders seated in the Koussevitzky Music Shed for all BSO-related performances.
While masking and physical distancing no longer will be required, the orchestra announced on Friday, both precautions are recommended for unvaccinated audience members, in line with CDC guidance.
The regulations from the local health boards limit total attendance to 9,000 — half of the normal capacity. Earlier, the attendance cap had been 25 percent before Gov. Charlie Baker lifted most pandemic-related restrictions as of May 29.
During the July 9-Aug. 16 BSO and Boston Pops season, including visiting ensembles, up to 2,400 listeners will be seated in the Shed, and 6,600 on the lawn for those performances.
The BSO noted that its own team of experts were aligned with the 50 percent capacity limit imposed by Tri-Town Health, which includes the Stockbridge and Lenox health boards.
The announcement pointed out that while physical distancing will no longer be enforced on the lawn, the 50 percent capacity will ensure ample space for voluntary physical distancing should audience members choose that option.
Though the 9,000 overall capacity allowance will apply to all 2021 Popular Artist performances, there will be no capacity restrictions in the Shed (which seats 5,000) for those shows.
”The Boston Symphony enthusiastically supports the new cap of 9,000 attendees for Tanglewood issued by the Tri-Town Health Department, as it will allow the orchestra to make additional tickets available for all performances, including some previously sold-out concerts, while also continuing to maintain as its highest priority the health and safety of everyone involved in the 2021 Tanglewood season — patrons, musicians, and staff,” said Mark Volpe, BSO President and CEO, in a prepared statement.
“An overall 50 percent capacity limit also allows the BSO to continue exhibiting an abundance of caution while our audiences adjust to returning to live performances.”
The updated guidance allows for additional ticket sales, as detailed by the BSO:
• Tickets are currently on sale and available for concerts under the original 25 percent capacity model; additional Tanglewood tickets — released by increasing capacity to 50 percent — will go on sale Monday, June 21, at 10 a.m. at www.tanglewood.org
• Free Lawn Tickets for those under 18 will be offered throughout the summer.
• Free general admission Tanglewood Music Center Chamber Concerts will take place at 10 a.m. Sundays and 2:30 p.m. Mondays.
• Year-round local residents may purchase a discounted season-long Berkshire Resident Lawn Pass (not valid for 2021 Popular Artist series, Boston Pops concerts, or the BSO concerts on July 30 and August 8), with a valid Massachusetts license, available at the Tanglewood Main Gate Box Office beginning July 2.
“All of us at the BSO are delighted that we are returning to live performances at Tanglewood this summer and celebrating a new chapter that points to a post-pandemic world, where we can take part in our most treasured life experiences for the first time since March 2020,” Volpe stated.
”Experiencing concerts this summer at Tanglewood is sure to be a poignant reminder of how deeply we cherish our extraordinary orchestra, the many outstanding guest artists — both beloved favorites and anticipated newcomers — featured throughout the summer, and the festival’s exquisite grounds that have welcomed many of the world’s greatest musicians, and countless music lovers, since Tanglewood’s founding in 1937,” he added.
Volpe’s retirement begins on June 20; the next day, his successor, Gail Samuel, a high-ranking Los Angeles Philharmonic executive, begins her tenure. She is currently chief operating officer of the L.A. orchestra and president of the Hollywood Bowl.
”The 2021 Tanglewood season is destined to be one for the books!” Volpe enthused.
As announced previously, all Tanglewood performances will be in the Music Shed, limited to about 80 minutes with no intermission as part of the festival’s health and safety measures.
Increased air filtration and ventilation, newly installed hand hygiene stations, and enhanced cleaning and sanitation are among the additional measures to minimize health risks. In consideration of families with children under vaccination age, Tanglewood will not require vaccinations for entrance to the grounds. Entry to Tanglewood for listeners under age 18 is free.
Tanglewood does not anticipate veering from the protocols updated on Friday unless further restrictions on capacity levels become necessary should pandemic conditions change over the coming months.
Ticket buyers will receive information and updates about Tanglewood’s health and safety policies through email correspondence. The most current information about these policies and procedures will be posted at tanglewood.org/safety, with prompts regularly featured on the orchestra’s social media platforms linking to more detailed information.
This summer the BSO will eliminate smoking areas and implement a no-smoking policy throughout the Tanglewood grounds.