Shelly and I spent a wonderful week in western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Hills, which is a vital center for the performing and visual arts. The Summer months bring out the best of both. We schedule our annual visit so that we can have a mini-reunion with my Dartmouth classmates (1963) and attend Tanglewood on Parade, a day long celebration highlighted by performances by three extraordinary orchestras: the Boston Symphony (BSO), the Boston Pops, and the Tanglewood Symphony Orchestra, each with its own distinct and unique flavor.
The crowd on the lawn outside the Koussevitzky Music Shed.
The youthful performers in the Tanglewood Symphony generally lead off the program. This year they performed several pieces, the most familiar of which is Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (believe it or not our eight piece Big Apple Circus Band actually performed this orchestral number as an entrance piece for our aerialist Sacha Pavlatta’s Cloud Swing Act in 1981). Pictured below is Charles Dutoit conducting the Tanglewood Symphony inside the 5000 seat Music Shed.
The Boston Pops performed several numbers with Keith Lockheart conducting two songs, Love is Here to Stay by George and Ira Gershwin and I Won’t Dance by Jerome Kern. The revered 85 year-old John Williams, the Musical Director Emeritus of the Boston Pops, conducting three of his own wonderful motion picture compositions, including the stirring and thrilling finale from Star Wars.
Keith Lockhart (L) and John Williams (R).
The grand finale of the evening is the combined orchestras performing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Opus 49 with Keith Lockhart conducting. Those of you who are familiar with the piece know that Tchaikovsky wrote into the score the sound of live cannons firing blanks accompanying the final movement. Sure enough Tanglewood on Parade had those cannons in a nearby field firing on cue.
And then, the evening ended with a spectacular display of fireworks.