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BSO names director of new Tanglewood Learning Institute

From left: BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe, BSO Chair of the Board of Trustees Susan Paine, Tanglewood Learning Institute Director Sue Elliott, and BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons at the Tanglewood Learning Institute construction site.Hilary Scott

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has tapped Sue Elliott, a music educator with significant experience in community engagement, to serve as the inaugural director of the Tanglewood Learning Institute, a new center for adult education and enrichment that will open next year at the BSO’s summer home in Lenox.

The Tanglewood Learning Institute will be housed in a four-building Center for Music and Learning now under construction on the festival grounds behind Ozawa Hall. Elliott, a Toronto native who currently directs the Teacher Certification Program at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, has previously worked on artistic projects and community engagement for both the Houston Grand Opera and the Seattle Opera.


“I think this initiative will give an unprecedented opportunity for listeners to engage more personally,” Elliott told the Globe by phone from Toronto. “I imagine our core programming will be shared learning journeys that inspire curiosity, facilitate the exploration of ideas, and foster discovery.”

Unlike the Tanglewood festival itself, the institute, set to launch next summer, will operate year-round from its new Berkshires home, in part through online programs and partnerships with local cultural organizations. Its offerings are expected to include seminars on musical and cultural topics, panel discussions, conversations with artists, film presentations, musical demonstrations, masterclass and rehearsal access, backstage visits, and other related activities drawing on themes of weekend performances.

According to Elliott, the institute’s programs will also have a presence in Boston during the BSO’s subscription season. “It’s really both a playground and a laboratory,” she said, “the possibilities of which we cannot even fully comprehend at this point in time.”

Concurrent with Elliott’s appointment, the BSO has also announced a $64 million “Tanglewood Forever” fund-raising campaign to support the building construction, Tanglewood Learning Institute programming, and other improvements and amenities on the Tanglewood campus. According to the orchestra, $54 million has already been raised toward this goal during a quiet phase of the fund-raising effort, which began in 2012 and is now being led by BSO trustee Cynthia Curme as campaign chair.