This summer at Tanglewood will bring another big anniversary, as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer academy for advanced musical training, the Tanglewood Music Center, turns 75. To mark the occasion, Andris Nelsons, in his first summer season as music director, will lead the TMC Orchestra, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and additional forces in a performance of Mahler’s epic Eighth Symphony.
Over the course of three weeks, Nelsons will also lead the BSO in Mahler’s Sixth Symphony and Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony, and works by Haydn, Strauss, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven. These and other details of the Tanglewood season were announced on Thursday.
Speaking by phone between rehearsals at Symphony Hall, Nelsons sounded ebullient about the orchestra’s Berkshires home. “It’s really amazing what happens [at Tanglewood] over a period of two months,” he said. “From big symphonic repertoire to chamber music, professionals and students, and the contemporary music week. This summer has 30 new pieces.”
Nelsons’s three weeks at Tanglewood represent an increased presence compared to last summer’s two weeks, made possible in part by his decision to take a year off from conducting at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany. His time with the orchestra will extend an additional two weeks beyond the Tanglewood season, as he leads the BSO on its first European tour since 2007.
This summer the orchestra will introduce a new title, Koussevitzky Artist, to be awarded annually. The first musicians to be receive the honor will be cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax. Both will offer several performances.
Among the guest conductors will be Christoph von Dohnanyi, Charles Dutoit, and Michael Tilson Thomas, who will lead the BSO in Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and participate in the Festival of Contemporary Music. Stéphane Denève will return with an organ-themed program, Ludovic Morlot will lead a work by John Luther Adams, and Bramwell Tovey will conduct Act I of Puccini’s “Tosca.”
This year’s Ozawa Hall programming will feature Mark Morris Dance Group, the Knights, Apollo’s Fire, and the Emerson String Quartet, and recitals by pianists Leon Fleisher and Paul Lewis, violinist Christian Tetzlaff, and vocalists Audra McDonald, Sarah Connolly, Matthias Goerne, and Bryn Terfel.
Most of the summer’s TMC programs will include at least one new work by a wide array of composers commissioned to mark the anniversary season, among them Gunther Schuller, Ned Rorem, Yehudi Wyner, Andre Previn, John Harbison, Charles Wuorinen, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Betsy Jolas, Augusta Read Thomas, Shulamit Ran, David Lang, Michael Gandolfi, Derek Bermel, Helen Grime, and Sean Shepherd. This year’s Festival of Contemporary Music (July 20-27) will be curated by Harbison, Gandolfi, and Oliver Knussen. The orchestra will offer free weekly downloads from its archives of TMC performances.
The BSO will wrap up its Tanglewood season on Aug. 16, and then set off for performances in London, Salzburg, Grafenegg, Lucerne, Milan, Paris, Cologne, and Berlin. “The orchestra hasn’t been for many years to Europe, and there’s a big expectation there,” Nelsons said, adding more broadly that he hopes the BSO can return to one tour per season.
Before the BSO’s Tanglewood season begins, Keith Lockhart will lead the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra in “Sondheim on Sondheim.” The Esplanade Orchestra concludes the season in late August with two programs, including the annual Film Night, which will be led by John Williams and David Newman.
Jeremy Eichler can be reached at email@example.com.