Work starts on Tanglewood complex


STOCKBRIDGE — A transformational, historic milestone for the Boston Symphony's commitment to Tanglewood.

That was the message from speakers at Friday evening's ceremonial groundbreaking for the $40 million working-goal investment by the Boston Symphony to create a year-round, multi-use, four-building complex at the top of the lawn overlooking Ozawa Hall in Stockbridge.

In a tent situated on the footprint of the new complex, at least 300 guests heard BSO leaders describe the impact on performers, audiences and students. State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield and state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, attended.

"Tanglewood is one of those things that makes the BSO what it is today, it defines and distinguishes the BSO from every other orchestral entity in the world," declared Managing Director Mark Volpe. "It's a special place not only to us at the BSO and to those in the Berkshires, but also in the world of music internationally."

"This is truly a transformational moment, a threshold moment for Tanglewood and the BSO," he said. "Today marks the culmination of many years of work and a symbolic beginning of a new era for Tanglewood."

Volpe expressed pride " to be making this significant investment in Tanglewood and its future, an investment that will strengthen the Berkshires as a creative community and one that will draw new visitors while also benefiting those who already love this place."

He described the investment as "more and more aligned with the communities that compose the Berkshires and a future that will help us define the role of a major symphony orchestra in the areas of learning and enrichment."

When completed by summer 2019, the three pavilions and adjoining cafe will provide additional, much-needed performance and rehearsal studios for the Tanglewood Music Center academy for young professionals and the BSO's new Tanglewood Learning Institute (TLI), creating educational and enrichment for visitors.

"Today, there is no other orchestra or festival that has the opportunity to create such distinguished and distinct learning experiences," Volpe asserted.

"The Tanglewood Learning Institute will set new standards in the field and add to the BSO's leading position among orchestras worldwide. it will count the TLI and the TMC as essential components of any visit to Tanglewood."

Volpe summed up the center as "grounded in the most important elements of the BSO's mission — music, education and community. We see the center not just for concertgoers but as a focal point for our neighbors here in the Berkshires and new audiences around the world."

He predicted that "it will provide innovative space for learning, expand Tanglewood's already ambitious scope through the TLI programming and enhance a worldwide reach through its new distance-learning platforms."

After the speeches, bookended by ceremonial musical performances featuring BSO and Tanglewood Music Center brass players, orchestra officials and luminaries including BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons and Boston Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams donned hard hats, grabbed shovels and carved indentations into a mound of soil for the symbolic ground-breaking. Actual construction begins shortly after Labor Day.

Since the new facility will be climate-controlled, it will be available to community performers and presenters of education and lecture programs with seating for up to 300 people in the largest of the three pavilions.

Adjoining will be a 150-seat dining cafe as a gathering place for visitors, TMC Fellows and faculty, and participants in the TLI summer


While the building complex, first announced last February, is pegged at $30 million, the BSO is continuing a $10 million, multi-year fundraising effort to support other improvements at Tanglewood and to create a special endowment for the orchestra's concert activities and additional programming.

As explained by BSO Trustee Joyce Linde, chairwoman of the TMC/TLI Initiative Committee, the project had its inception in discussions that began five years ago with Ellen Highstein, TMC Director and Tony Fogg, BSO Artistic Administrator and Director of Tanglewood.

The conversations centered on the shortage of study and rehearsal space for the TMC Fellows. BSO strategy sessions focused on "ways Tanglewood, as wonderful as it was, could become an even better version of itself," said Linde.

The concept of the TLI emerged from "as an innovative way to broaden the definition of what Tanglewood could be in the 21st century," she pointed out. "We would offer a new window into the creative process at work to bring together musicians, academics, guest artists and patrons, a multi-generational blend of people who are curious and care about music."

Linde described an "a-ha moment" as leaders envisioned a close bond between the TMC and the TLI — "it became obvious that the intersection of these two programs could benefit from a physical space in which they would co-exist. The idea of a new center for music and learning seemed to be the perfect solution, addressing the needs of both programs and providing new opportunities as well."

Citing early commitments from donors and anticipated support from others, she declared: "We are moving forward with what we believe is a transformational project, a defining moment in Tanglewood's history and most importantly in its future."

The prestigious Boston architects William Rawn Associates have designed the new buildings, while Reed Hilderbrand of Cambridge is the landscape architect. Rawn Associates also designed Ozawa Hall, which opened in 1994 following the BSO's 1986 acquisition of the Highwood Manor property, now called the Bernstein campus.

Rawn, noting the BSO's view that Ozawa Hall exceeded expectations, described the new building as "representing the future of the BSO, classical music and Tanglewood. I certainly hope this building exceeds expectations, too. We've been blessed by these two experiences."

Consigli Construction Co., Inc., a renowned firm founded in 1905 and headquartered in Milford, has been hired. The company's portfolio includes projects at Williams College, including the Environmental Center and the Sawyer Library renovation and addition.

Kirkegaard Associates led by Joseph Myers, the acousticians for Ozawa Hall, will design the acoustics for the new project.

Other upgrades being planned include renovations to the Ozawa Hall Bernstein campus and its entranceway gate, improved restroom and food service amenities, and a new horticultural plan to redesign and revitalize the landscape on Tanglewood's 524-acre grounds.

Contact correspondent Clarence Fanto at or 413-637-2551.


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