Our Opinion: Berkshires get by with a little help from Tanglewood

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With the recent release of Tanglewood's 2020 schedule comes the perennial reassurance that the Berkshire Hills will be alive with the sound of music thanks to the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home in Lenox.

On the wings of a Beatle, the Popular Artists Series' profile continues to rise to the occasion; one jam-packed June weekend in The Koussevitzky Music Shed will feature Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band, Trey Anastasio of Phish fame backed up by the Boston Pops Orchestra, and a duet performance by Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie. This is to say nothing of the myriad programming on tap pairing the Andris Nelsons-led BSO with the world-class talent of familiar faces such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax, as well as a weekend-long July event boasting a quadriptych of renowned violinists to celebrate the 100th anniversary of violin virtuoso Isaac Stern's birth.

Add in the usual John Williams-inspired crowd-pleasers — Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops' live scoring of "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" and Williams' Film Night — and the region's crown gem of music venues will truly have something for everyone this summer.

Perhaps Tanglewood's most important harmonization is pairing its massive economic impact (to the tune of more than $100 million in Berkshire County alone) with a potential to attract audiences as age-diverse as they are large, a rare voicing amid the Berkshires' deep repertoire of arts and cultural offerings. The BSO recognizes its unique ability to attract a younger crowd and families to its summer home — and thus Berkshire County as a whole — and bolsters it with a plethora of ways to coax more young people through the gates, onto the lawn and into a peerless musical experience.

According to its 2020 season brochure, special pricings for Shed performances will include day-of-show deals for college and graduate students (50 percent off Friday evening lawn tickets with a student ID) and for children 17 and younger (up to four free lawn tickets per guardian), as well as $25 BSO performance tickets for those younger than 40. While these discounts are sometimes suspended for higher-profile events, Tanglewood should perhaps consider extending some form of the deals to big-ticket evenings like the Popular Artists Series or film nights. It's entirely possible to sow the seeds of a lifelong love of orchestral music in youngsters through their love of "Star Wars" films, especially when they hear and see them expertly scored live by the Boston Pops. This could prove especially worthwhile for the BSO, as the brand new Linde Center for Music and Learning's year-round operation behooves Tanglewood to attract a broader and younger homegrown coalition of music lovers.

So, if you can, bring a kid to Tanglewood this summer to take in a world-class musical performance. You never know how many future Yo-Yo Mas could be seeing their first concert thanks to a free lawn ticket.



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