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BSO boosts concert capacity for 2021 Tanglewood concerts

Tickets will soon go on sale for previously sold-out events featuring Yo-Yo Ma and John Williams.
Tickets will soon go on sale for previously sold-out events featuring Yo-Yo Ma and John Williams.Fred Collins/Courtesy Boston Symphony Orchestra

The Boston Symphony Orchestra announced updated safety protocols Friday for its 2021 Tanglewood season.

The biggest news is that concert capacity will get a big boost, which means tickets will soon become available for previously sold-out events featuring Yo-Yo Ma (July 30 and Aug. 8) and John Williams (Aug. 13). The new limit will be 9,000 people per concert, or 50 percent of usual capacity for Tanglewood events. That amounts to a doubling of the original attendance cap for this season, announced in March. The extra tickets will go on sale June 21 at 10 a.m. via www.tanglewood.org.


“All of us at the BSO are delighted that we are returning to live performances at Tanglewood this summer and celebrating a new chapter that points to a post-pandemic world,” said BSO president and CEO Mark Volpe in a statement. “An overall 50 percent capacity limit . . . allows the BSO to continue exhibiting an abundance of caution while our audiences adjust to returning to live performances.”

Furthermore, the BSO will drop its previously announced mask requirement, in accordance with CDC recommendations for outdoor events. Citing “consideration of families with children under vaccination age,” the organization will not require proof of vaccination upon entering the Tanglewood grounds. However, unvaccinated patrons will be encouraged to mask up and practice social distancing.

The relaxed guidelines apply to all events during the BSO’s abbreviated season at its summer home in Lenox, slated for July 9-Aug. 16. The guidelines also apply to Tanglewood Popular Artist performances, including Brandi Carlile/Mavis Staples (Aug. 21) and Judy Collins (Aug. 22). According to the announcement, safety protocols were updated in consultation with local, state, and federal health experts as well as the healthy buildings advisory firm 9 Foundations.

Other previously announced safety protocols will remain in place for 2021: All concerts will take place in the open-air Koussevitzky Music Shed. All programs will last about 80 minutes with no intermission. And no singers will perform with the BSO this summer, meaning Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 will not serve as the traditional season finale. Instead, the BSO will close out this very unusual Tanglewood season Aug. 15 with an all-Brahms program.


Christy DeSmith can be reached at christy.desmith@globe.com. Follw her on Twitter @christydesmith.