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This summer at Tanglewood, Bayreuth and Beethoven come to the Berkshires

Highlights of the 2020 season also include the 20th anniversary of John Williams’s Film Night and a weekend-long celebration of Isaac Stern.

BSO music director Andris Nelsons will lead twelve Tanglewood programs, including a concert performance of Act III of Wagner’s "Tannhäuser." (Photo by Hilary Scott)Hilary Scott

A concert performance of Act III of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser,” a centennial celebration of renowned violinist Isaac Stern’s signature works, a bounty of Beethoven, and the 20th anniversary of John Williams’s Film Night are the central features of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming summer season at Tanglewood.

Music director Andris Nelsons will lead the BSO in twelve programs in the earlier part of the season, including the “Tannhäuser” performance with tenor Christopher Ventris in the title role (July 11) and an all-Beethoven weekend featuring the 2020 Koussevitzky Artist, British pianist Paul Lewis, in all five of the composer’s piano concertos (July 17-19). Nelsons will also join the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and conducting fellows for a program featuring Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 (July 20) and share the podium with both Williams and BSO youth and family concerts conductor Thomas Wilkins for the annual Tanglewood On Parade, which brings BSO, Boston Pops, and TMCO together for fun and fireworks (July 28).


The weekend-long Stern celebration will see a starry assortment of soloists — including violinists Augustin Hadelich, Midori, and Joshua Bell — on the Shed stage, performing some of Stern’s signature pieces with the BSO (July 24-26). The Tanglewood Festival Chorus celebrates its 50th anniversary this summer with many performances throughout the season, including Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 3 with Nelsons (Aug. 1) and Berlioz’s “Requiem” under the baton of Mark Elder (Aug. 22). BSO artistic partner Thomas Adès curates the Festival of Contemporary Music (Aug. 6-10) and conducts its grand finale concert with the TMC Orchestra; he also leads the BSO in a program featuring violinist Leila Josefowicz performing his own Violin Concerto (Aug. 14).

The regular crowd of Tanglewood A-list soloists is on the docket, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Leonidas Kavakos, and pianist Garrick Ohlsson. With Music from Copland House, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham will sing the world premiere of “A Standing Witness,” a BSO co-commissioned collaboration between composer Richard Danielpour and former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove (July 30). Notable Tanglewood debuts include Josefowicz, sopranos Angel Blue and Sara Jakubiak, mezzo-soprano Marina Prudenskaya, saxophonist James Carter, and BSO assistant conductor Anna Rakitina, who is scheduled to lead her first-ever program with the orchestra on July 5.


The Boston Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart support Phish’s Trey Anastasio in a Popular Artists series concert (June 20); later, Williams hosts the 20th anniversary of Film Night (Aug. 15) and the Pops screen “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” in the Shed with the orchestra performing the score live (Aug. 21).

Events at Ozawa Hall include appearances by the Mark Morris Dance Group (July 1 & 2); sarod player Amjad Ali Khan and guitarist Sharon Isbin (July 17); French orchestra Les Siècles (July 22-23); and Boston’s own Emmanuel Music (August 20).

The Tanglewood Learning Institute is planning a wealth of programming to enhance the experience, including lectures, performances, art classes, and three immersion weekends. School and community-based educators in the Berkshires can apply for subsidized admission to TLI events through the Berkshire Scholars program. In a new collaboration with BBC Radio 3, TMC Fellows and participants in Radio 3′s New Generation Artists program will present a series of free lunchtime recitals at the Linde Center for Music and Learning (July 6-Aug. 10).

Tickets for the 2020 Tanglewood season are available February 9 via 888-266-1200 or


Zoë Madonna can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @knitandlisten. Madonna’s work is supported by the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

A.Z. Madonna can be reached at Follow her @knitandlisten.