If you’re a classical music fan, this is music to your ears: one of the country’s premier summer festivals is returning after the coronavirus pandemic silenced it for the first time since World War II.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra announced Friday that its 2021 outdoor season at Tanglewood, the summer home of the prestigious Symphony in the Berkshires, western Massachusetts, will include a return to in-person live concerts from July 9 to August 16.
Concerts in Tanglewood, where fans spread blankets on manicured lawns, sip wine and picnic under the stars, have been a summer rite in New England since 1937.
But the pandemic forced organizers to cancel the 2020 festival, switch to online appearances, and mute a tradition that annually attracts nearly 350,000 visitors from around the world and adds $ 100 million to the region’s economy. Until last year, the live music had flowed practically uninterrupted and was not finally canceled until 1943 at the height of the Second World War.
“I’m sure we will all experience the incredible power of music on a whole new level,” said Andris Nelsons, the BSO’s music director, in a statement.
“I hope that at this moment we will discover an even deeper meaning and purpose for the music in our lives together – as it is sure to fill our hearts and renew our spirits,” he said.
The orchestra said contactless ticketing, strict cleaning protocols, mask wear and social distancing will be in place for the festival, which will cut its usual 12-week run to roughly half. All performances will be shortened to 80 minutes or less without interruption, and concert details would be announced next month.
This summer’s festival marks the orchestra’s return to live performances for the first time since the pandemic that forced a 16-month hiatus.
Mark Volpe, President and CEO of BSO, admitted that musicians and fans alike are affected, describing them as “a community of like-minded souls who yearn for the power of music in their lives again”.
Over the decades, Tanglewood has produced unforgettable performances by classical music giants such as the late Leonard Bernstein. This is a suitable backdrop for a COVID-19 comeback, Nelsons said.
“My hope lies in the ability of music to heal and inspire us and to help us move and support us through the challenging times of our lives,” he said.
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