There’s still plenty of time to get out to TANGLEWOOD, the  idyllic summer home of the BSO in the Berkshires. I hadn’t been there since before the pandemic and it’s even more glorious than ever, lush with greenery and music. Coming up soon a beloved annual tradition since 1946 with something for the whole family and the chance to hear three of the most renowned conductors on the planet in one concert: TANGLEWOOD ON PARADE Tuesday August 8!! It all begins at 2PM with brass fanfares and continues all day with loads of family activities and music, culminating in an 8 P.M. CONCERT FEATURING THE BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA led by Andris Nelsons, THE BOSTON POPS led by Keith Lockhart alongside Pops conductor Laureate John Williams, and the TANGLEWOOD MUSIC CENTER ORCHESTRA. The whole day is topped off with FIREWORKS over the Stockbridge Bowl!

Photo: Hilary Scott

I recently went out for a weekend and had one of the most powerful theatrical experiences I can remember. Under the stars in the Koussevitsky Music Shed I was enthralled by RAGTIME: The Symphonic Concert commissioned and performed by The Boston Pops conducted by Keith Lockhart and sung by some of the most glorious vocalists on the planet–Broadway stars, Tony and Grammy nominees and winners among them–who brought everything they had to that stage. I have always loved this show and its sweeping, bittersweet score set at the turn of the last century. The book here, newly adapted for this concert version by the late great Terrence McNally, mirrors our own time with its tumult, trouble, and promise. The show interweaves three stories and how they relate to the American Dream: immigration, industrialization, racism. Ragtime was that jog in the rhythm, that syncopated beat signaling a new era of  dreams fulfilled, dashed, and dreamt again…

Though not fully staged, this concert version doesn’t miss a beat. Its compressed narrative, new orchestrations, and richly dramatic performances exploded the power of the show’s universal themes. Lockhart, who clearly has a flair for theatrical material, propelled The Pops and these singers through a perfectly-paced and nuanced dramatic experience. Wild applause stopped the show more than once, until we finally leapt to our feet at the conclusion of the two-hour production.

This concert version was originally scheduled to coincide with Keith’s 25th Anniversary as Pops Conductor (!) but was postponed due to pandemic. It was finally performed in Symphony Hall this past May, with snippets performed at the 4rth of July Concert on the Esplanade. I was lucky to find it on the program at Tanglewood and hear it in full. I will never forget its impact as one of the most exceptional theatrical experiences of my life.

So take a weekend and get out to Tanglewood with its symphonic concerts, popular music concerts, recitals, conversations in their many beautiful venues! Complete season details and tickets including TANGLEWOOD ON PARADE available at TANGLEWOOD.ORG