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Tanglewood Is Building For the Future—Literally

By Doug Hall, Contributing Writer, April 21, 2017

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home away from Boston, Tanglewood Music Center, is located in the Berkshire Hills, between Stockbridge and Lenox, MA. Recently an exciting and eagerly awaited announcement was made by the BSO and Music Director Andris Nelsons, charting a new and dynamic future. Tanglewood, one of the premier summer festivals in the world and home to the BSO since 1937, is making a major investment commitment with plans to further expand and enhance the Tanglewood Music Center facility and grounds. This extensive plan includes a new four-building complex to support the performance and rehearsal activities of Tanglewood Music Center and serve as the home of the new Tanglewood Learning Institute for visitors to the festival.

Ozawa Hall interior; photo: Steve Rosenthal.

Specifically, the Tanglewood facility expansion will include plans for additional concert space, broadening of educational resources, adding heightened support for the summer Music Academy and Music Center. The largest building will be a multi-season space, which will serve to meet the needs of, and accommodation for, rehearsal and performance activities, providing a new concert venue for more events and programming. Studio 1 will be the largest of the three studios, to “enhance, support and streamline Tanglewood Music Center activities” along with a home for multi-media education and lecture programs, and new social and dining events.

As highlighted in the official announcement, at the heart of the four-buliding complex, Studio 1 (77 ft. x 52 ft.) will provide a “state of the art” space for rehearsals and concert activities. Accommodating audiences of 200 for concerts and 300 for lectures, this dynamic space also provides for retractable seating, and can transform the listener space based on individual performance needs. Further enhancements include multi-media education and lecture program seating, housing the new Tanglewood Learning Institute. This largest of the three studio spaces will, as stated by the architecture firm William Rawn Associates, “be equipped with technologies that maximize its flexibility for performance, rehearsal, and educational offerings of the Tanglewood Learning Institute.” From a performance standpoint, as enthusiastically stated by BSO’s Managing Director Mark Volpe, it will also serve to spotlight, “the extraordinary level of talent exhibited by the Fellows each summer” as well as recognizing a “stellar faculty, including many of today’s most prestigious composers, performers, and conductors.”

Additionally the building expansion will provide for two smaller studios (45 ft. x 37 ft. and 35 ft. x 27 ft.) which will support the TMC’s rehearsals and performances, as well as Tanglewood Learning Institute events. With the addition of these two intimate additional spaces, audiences as small as 60 (Studio 2) and 40 (Studio 3) can enjoy being closer to the musician. Overall, the new building design intends to integrate the listener with the performer, “providing the festival’s patrons with a rich array of educational and enriched experiences that encourage a closer connection between artists and audiences.” Also, this enlargement of the festival’s traditional schedule for performances will allow for a more “engaged campus.”

Complimenting the facilities rehearsal, performance and educational and lecture programs, will be a 150-seat dining café, designed to be a “center of gravity for everyone.” The architecture of these spaces are retractable in parts which will allow for a re-seating arrangement for social activities, or other occasions, as part of a hub for visitors, TMC Fellows and Faculty, and the Tanglewood Learning Institute.

Located on the Tanglewood grounds in close proximity to Ozawa Hall, the newly highly sustainable building complex will be climate-controlled to accommodate use by the Berkshire community in the off-season.

Lion’s Gate Entrance at Tanglewood; photo: Stu Rosner.

In addition to the exciting featured announcement of expansion at Tanglewood, there will also be major improvements at TMC, which include renovations to the Ozawa Hall Bernstein campus. Theses renovations, as stated in the press announcement, will include a new entranceway gate, “with the purpose of better integration into the expanded Tanglewood Music Center campus, which will now encompass Ozawa Hall and the new four-building complex.” Also, not forgetting some basic visitor needs, the restrooms and food service amenities will be improved.

Remaining true to the “integral” experience of visitors year after year, the property grounds, with its great green lawn for pre-performance assembly, socializing and “famous” picnic gatherings, will not be ignored, as the expansion investment will also focus on the horticultural aspects of the Tanglewood Music Center. The BSO plans an overall major investment to “revitalize and strengthen Tanglewood’s bucolic Berkshire landscape, with new plantings, pedestrian circulation improvements, and the restoration of views of the Stockbridge Bowl.” Fund-raising efforts will begin for the on-going support of the Horticulture Stewardship Program, which as stated by Reed Hildebrand, (project landscape architect), will develop a “comprehensive new initiative to create and implement uniform strategies for documenting, maintaining, preserving, and enhancing Tanglewood’s horticultural assets.”

This $30 million building project is part of a multi-year fundraising effort to support ongoing Tanglewood building and landscape upgrades, providing an enhanced visitor experience for current and future generations of musicians and concertgoers.

A child enjoying a family concert in Ozawa Hall; photo: Hilary Scott.

Scheduled to open in the summer of 2019, the new building complex will be designed by William Rawn Associates, Architects, and will be the largest building project at Tanglewood since the construction of Ozawa Hall (1994). As stated passionately by BSO’s Managing Director Mark Volpe, “As stewards of one of the world’s most beloved summer music festivals and one of the top summer music academies for young musicians embarking on professional careers, BSO feels a tremendous obligation to continue advancing Tanglewood’s highest performance and education aspirations.”


Cover: Patrons by the Tanglewood Shed; photo: Stu Rosner.


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