The Boston Symphony is thrilled to be returning to Tanglewood, its summer home in the beautiful Berkshires since 1937, and welcoming back audiences, July 9–August 16, for the first time since March 2020. At that time, the orchestra was forced to cancel all live performances with audiences, beginning with its concert schedule at Symphony Hall and extending to the 2020 Tanglewood season and beyond, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sixteen months later, the BSO looks forward with great optimism to reopening and reimagining Tanglewood this summer—presenting a shorter, six-week season designed
to capture the essential Tanglewood experience, with performances by the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood Music Center orchestras, many of the most preeminent guest artists of our time, and special chamber music and large ensemble groups greatly admired for the power and inspiration of their artistic gifts.

Throughout the summer, Tanglewood will continue its commitment to the most beloved music of the classical music canon, while also expanding its commitment to representing a diverse group of composers of our time, including 18 works by living artists to be performed throughout the summer. The 2021 Tanglewood season will spotlight both established composers well-known to BSO audiences and talented relative newcomers to the field whose work is a harbinger of great promise for the future
of classical music.

During this reduced concert season, the BSO remains deeply committed to its essential educational, outreach, and innovative programs. The Tanglewood Music Center—the BSO’s acclaimed summer music academy since 1940—and the Tanglewood Learning Institute—launched in 2019 and offering a wide spectrum of programs designed to engage curious minds—are each integral to the identity of the festival, as are the many activities that involve the community and resonate with families and young audiences, who can attend the festival through Tanglewood’s free lawn ticket program for those under 18 years of age.

Highlights of 2021 Tanglewood Season, July 9–August 16

Marking the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s triumphant return to its summer home, BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons—who leads eight orchestra programs this summer—opens the BSO’s Tanglewood season on Saturday, July 10, with an all-Beethoven program, featuring one of the festival’s most preeminent guest artists, Emanuel Ax, performing the Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, on a program with one of Beethoven’s most iconic works,Symphony No. 5. In addition to Mr. Ax, many of Tanglewood’s most beloved performing artists who appear virtually every year at the festival, including Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Bell, will reunite with the orchestra this summer, along with BSO favorites Yefim Bronfman, Kirill Gerstein, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Leonidas Kavakos, and relative newcomers to the BSO, Daniil Trifonov, Baiba Skride, and Lisa Batiashvili.

John Williams will lead the BSO and Anne-Sophie Mutter in the world premiere of his Violin Concerto No. 2. Mr. Williams also joins Keith Lockhart on the podium for the ever-popular John Williams’ Film Night and is the focus of a Lockhart-led Boston Pops concert dedicated to the wide-ranging styles of both Mr. Williams’ iconic and lesser-known film score themes.

Wynton Marsalis (TMC Fellow 1979) leads the acclaimed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in a rare Tanglewood concert appearance, under the Tanglewood Music Center’s Full Tilt program that offers audiences bold, interactive programming by leading, innovative artists of our time. Two major chamber orchestra ensembles, Apollo’s Fire—one of the foremost Baroque ensembles—and The Knights—an adventurous young orchestra dedicated to breaking down barriers between audiences and music—make welcome returns to Tanglewood in 2021.

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