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Sound the cannons, light up the fireworks: Tanglewood is back!

This season features plenty of familiar faces — James Taylor and Yo-Yo Ma among them — as well as works by new composers

Tanglewood plans to offer a full-length, full-scale season of programming for the first time since before the pandemic.Photo © Stu Rosner

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is planning for its first full-length, full-scale Tanglewood season since summer 2019, featuring 10 weeks of concerts, talks, master classes, and picnics on the lawn. The doors will again be open to chamber music bastion Ozawa Hall and the newly constructed Linde Center for Music and Learning, which was accessible to live audiences for just one summer before the pandemic. Tanglewood on Parade, the annual day of family fun that showcases all of Tanglewood’s musical offerings, will also take place. Berkshires icon James Taylor is planning for not one but two Popular Artists concerts — one on July 3, the other on his signature Tanglewood date of July 4 — in order to accommodate those who bought tickets to the postponed 2021 concert. There will be fireworks.

In short, the BSO is planning for the kind of Tanglewood summer that fans have been missing since before the pandemic. Should all go off without a hitch, it stands to be a banner year.


In a phone interview, Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart called Tanglewood a “magic space” for him and other music lovers. “For us in the performing arts, we really depend on being able to interact with the audience in places like that,” he said.

“The 2022 Tanglewood season is filled with so many wonderful styles of composition, performed by the most extraordinary musicians working today, among them our very own Boston Symphony Orchestra,” said BSO music director Andris Nelsons in a statement provided by the orchestra. “We hope today’s announcement will excite music fans everywhere as we look forward to warmer days.”

This summer is the first season in which new BSO president and chief executive Gail Samuel has had a hand in the programming, and the eight-week lineup celebrates several beloved traditions and familiar faces while giving plenty of airtime to living composers and underrepresented composers of the past. Nelsons plans to lead nine programs across four weekends in July, including an opening night program of Leonard Bernstein and Stravinsky (July 8); a concert performance of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” (July 16); and a weekend-long showcase of pianist Paul Lewis, who will perform all five Beethoven piano concertos alongside world premiere BSO commissions by Julia Adolphe, Caroline Shaw, and Elizabeth Ogonek as well as the first BSO performance of any orchestral music by Louise Farrenc (July 29-31).


Other BSO commissions and co-commissions this summer include the world premiere of Helen Grime’s Trumpet Concerto, to be performed by Håkan Hardenberger (July 10); Fazıl Say’s “Phoenix (Anka Kuşu)” for piano four-hands and orchestra, to be performed by Lucas and Arthur Jussen on a program with Brahms’s “A German Requiem” (July 16); and Jessie Montgomery’s “Five Freedom Songs,” which was conceived in collaboration with soprano soloist Julia Bullock (July 24).

Guest conductors and performers joining the BSO include Karina Canellakis on a program with Emanuel Ax (July 22); Earl Lee with Christina and Michelle Naughton (Aug. 5); JoAnn Falletta with Joshua Bell (Aug. 6); Dima Slobodeniouk with soloists Leonidas Kavakos (Aug. 13) and Itzhak Perlman (Aug. 21); and Cristian Măcelaru with Yo-Yo Ma (Aug. 14). Finally, the season closes out with Michael Tilson Thomas leading the BSO, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and a quartet of soloists in the traditional season finale, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Aug. 28).

In the popular music department, conductor Ken-David Masur will lead the BSO in a 90th birthday celebration for John Williams, with featured soloists to include Ma, Taylor, and saxophonist Branford Marsalis (Aug. 20). Lockhart heads up two evenings this season; a screening of “The Empire Strikes Back” with Williams’s beloved score in live orchestral accompaniment by the Pops (July 15) and a memorial concert for the late musical theater giant Stephen Sondheim (Aug. 19).


“Of all the personal connections I’ve had . . . getting to know Sondheim personally a little bit was really one of the biggest thrills and honors of my career,” said Lockhart, who worked on runs of Sondheim shows including “Sweeney Todd” and “Sunday in the Park with George.”

“I’ve worked with enough famous people that I don’t get starstruck easily, but it took me a while to be able to compose my first sentence,” he said about meeting the composer.

Other highlights of the season include a series of Czech music curated and performed by Emanuel Ax with several special guests (July 7, July 14, Aug. 12); Nelsons leading the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in Berlioz’s “The Death of Cleopatra” with soprano Christine Goerke (July 23); an Ozawa Hall performance by mezzo-soprano Susan Graham including the BSO co-commission “A Standing Witness” by composer Richard Danielpour and former United States poet laureate Rita Dove (July 21); performances by the Takacs (July 27) and Danish (Aug. 3) string quartets; and a two-night Ozawa Hall residency by pianist Garrick Ohlsson, performing the complete Brahms solo piano works (Aug. 23 and 25).


The Tanglewood Learning Institute will be holding events throughout the summer, including master classes, informal discussions, and lectures by guests including US poet laureate Joy Harjo and “Angels in America” playwright Tony Kushner. The Tanglewood Music Center will also offer several weeks of concerts by instrumental and vocal fellows. This year’s Festival of Contemporary Music (Aug. 4-8) is headed by longtime TMC director Ellen Highstein, who plans to step down following this summer; the FCM’s final concert will mark the American premiere of George Benjamin’s opera “Lessons in Love and Violence,” to be conducted by the composer (Aug. 8).

“It feels great,” said Lockhart. “We’ve had too many things being canceled, things being moved, being postponed. It’s nice to see something being planned.”

Tickets go on sale to the public on March 10.


June 17-Sept. 4. 888-266-1200, www.tanglewood.org

A.Z. Madonna can be reached at az.madonna@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @knitandlisten.