Future musicians sound first notes at Tanglewood Learning Institute's instrument playground

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LENOX — Two-year-old Leo Sulzberg is a budding musical prodigy.

The little tyke already plays the ukulele, a talent he inherited from his mother, who began playing four years ago.

"He's always playing at home," said Richmond native Jocelyn Levitan. "He ended up taking my ukulele and I had to buy a new one."

Tanglewood being the perfect playground for Leo, Levitan and her husband Daniel Sulzberg, visiting from Santa Barbara Calif., took their son on Sunday afternoon to the newly christened Linde Center for Music and Learning.

Leo went from table to table trying the violin, cello and tambourine during the instrument interactive activity in the center's Volpe Family Studio.

"He's very musical. It's a joy to see him try new things," Mr. Sulzberg.

Leo's enthusiasm for music is exactly what the Tanglewood Learning Institute hopes to cultivate at its new home. The TLI-run center will host more than 140 scheduled activities this summer and community events during the offseason.

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Introducing musical instruments to all ages was one of more than a dozen teachable moments and special performances during the weekendlong open house at the multiuse complex. The state-of-the-art performance, rehearsal and event space makes the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Stockbridge and Lenox a year-round destination for the first time.

The Linde Center is also a great way to showcase to first-time visitors what Tanglewood has to offer, according to TLI Director Sue Elliott.

"The early reports show ticket sales to TLI events were 15 percent new people who never purchased tickets for anything at Tanglewood or any BSO event [in Boston,]" she said.

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Elliott sees the center enhancing the Tanglewood experience.

"We're also doing things musically that are not part of our hardcore events," she said. "We haven't made any announcement yet, but we're also offering some professional development programs in the fall."

Officially opened on Friday, the Linde Center was the largest, most costly and significant expansion and investment at the BSO's 524-acre Berkshire campus since the opening of the neighboring Seiji Ozawa Hall 25 years ago.

The $33 million facility is named for lead donor Joyce Linde, her late husband, Edward, and their family. As the guiding force for the project, Linde chaired the committee that envisioned and developed the concept starting seven years ago, and organized the fundraising along with the BSO trustees and other donors.

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The Linde Center's open house seemed to help foster, as intended, the musical intellect and talent of its visitors, like Caelyn Garrison from just outside Hartford, Conn. The nine-year-old has been playing the clarinet for about a year and wanted to try her hand at the violin during the open house.

"It's nice to try different instruments and see how they sound" she said.

Linde Center volunteer Carolyn Greene from Pittsfield was on hand to teach children and adults the basics of playing the flute.

"I like how the flute sounds. It's very whimsical," she said.

The 17-year-old took up the wind instrument three years ago, her musical foundation coming from several years of playing the piano at the behest of her mother.

"Music has lessons we can learn: determination, concentration, how to focus and practice," said Greene.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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