Music to its ears: Tanglewood attendance rises for 2019

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LENOX — Although concert attendance at Tanglewood this past summer held steady with last year's total, the opening season of the four-building Linde Center for Music and Learning, home of the new Tanglewood Learning Institute, brought in about 14,000 additional patrons, nearly one-third of them first-time visitors.

The grand total announced by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, reflecting box office sales as well as passes and other complimentary tickets, was 344,140, compared with 330,599 in 2018.

Reflecting recent trends in listener preferences, most of the top attractions were celebrity-oriented. James Taylor, John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma and popular acts such as Train, Earth Wind & Fire and country star Reba McEntire made up the vast majority of the top 10 best-attended performances in the Koussevitzky Music Shed.

Three of those were Boston Pops presentations and two were Boston Symphony performances — a late-summer concert featuring the superstar cellist Ma and the traditional season finale, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Taylor's July 3 and July 4 concerts each drew just over 18,000 patrons, by far the only sold-out events of the season. Of the top 10 Shed events (11, counting both Taylor shows), only four others attracted more than 10,000.

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Film music presentations were major audience draws, including the 22nd Film Night, with Williams and David Newman (14,712 listeners); a live performance and screening of 1977's "Star Wars: A New Hope," the first film in the series, with the Boston Pops, led by its conductor, Keith Lockhart (10,481); and "Across the Stars," with Williams and Newman sharing the podium for film score rearrangements Williams prepared for violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter (7,687).

The best-attended performance at Ozawa Hall was the Aug. 6 chamber music concert featuring Ma with pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Leonidas Kavakos.

About 30 percent of participants in the inaugural season of Tanglewood Learning Institute programs were first-time visitors to the BSO's summer home and to the orchestra's performances, according to an announcement provided to The Eagle on Monday upon request.

The all-time record summers at Tanglewood remain 1998, with 386,870 through the gates, 1997 (376,533) and 2012 (375,776), the 75th anniversary season.

The lowest number of listeners in recent decades was 318,439, in 2013, when Taylor took a prolonged break from touring in order to complete work on his most recent studio album, "Before This World."

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2552.


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