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Performing arts establishments have struggled to get better from COVID. With a powerful displaying final summer season, Tanglewood is an exception – Berkshire Eagle


Anna Rakitina Conducts Violinist Gil Shaham and the BSO (copy)

BSO Assistant Conductor Anna Rakitina leads violinist Gil Shaham and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a program that includes Shostakovich, Dvořák and Borodin at Tanglewood in August. Attendance numbers had been down barely for the 2022 season in comparison with the final pre-COVID season of 2019.

LENOX — The performing arts trade has been in a hunch these days, however certainly one of Berkshire County’s premier points of interest has managed to principally climate the storm.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra introduced Tuesday that 289,810 listeners attended 204 performances this previous season, Tanglewood’s first full slate of occasions because the pre-COVID season of 2019.

The season whole represented a decline of seven % in comparison with 2019, when 311,596 patrons attended 248 performances. As a result of there have been 44 fewer occasions this previous summer season than three years in the past, particular person live performance attendance elevated 12 % from the summer season of 2019, based on the BSO’s tally.

The drop-off in total attendance, although comparatively slight at Tanglewood, mirrored a extra extreme, widespread pattern within the performing arts, not solely within the Berkshires however nationwide.

The Eagle took a take a look at the state of the performing arts trade earlier this month and located that the county’s largest venues noticed, on common, a 30 % decline in ticket gross sales and attendance from 2019. That report didn’t embody Tanglewood’s attendance figures, because the season had not been accomplished.

The high-water mark for pre-COVID Tanglewood attendance was in 1998, with 386,870 by the gates, based on Eagle archives. The runners-up had been in 1997 (376,533) and 2012 (375,776), the seventy fifth anniversary season.

The bottom variety of listeners previous to 2019 was 318,439 in 2013, when James Taylor skipped his almost annual Tanglewood exhibits throughout a chronic break from touring as a way to full work on his studio album, “Earlier than This World.”

people sit in lawn chairs during rain storm (copy)

Some concertgoers robust it out of their seats because the rain falls onerous round them, whereas others take cowl underneath the Koussevitzky Music Shed throughout Tanglewood on Parade in Lenox in August. Attendance numbers had been down barely for the 2022 season at Tanglewood in comparison with the final pre-COVID season of 2019.

The very best-attended Tanglewood occasion in 2022 was the gala BSO celebration of composer/conductor John Williams’s ninetieth birthday yr, drawing 16,887 listeners, based on a report ready for The Eagle by the orchestra’s press workplace primarily based on field workplace statistics. There’s an 18,000 cap on ticket gross sales by long-standing settlement with the cities of Lenox and Stockbridge.

That capability restrict adopted a July 17, 2002, present by James Taylor, with 24,470 tickets had been bought for his efficiency with John Williams and the Boston Pops. However unofficial estimates on the time, together with one from Stockbridge Police Chief Richard ” Rick” Wilcox, put the precise quantity at greater than 25,000, together with some hedge-hopping gate crashers.

Since that evening, responding to issues by Stockbridge and Lenox officers over the traffic-choked roads earlier than and after the efficiency, Tanglewood has rigorously enforced an attendance cap of 18,000 for any single live performance.

Taylor’s 2002 look broke the earlier report of 23,039 in 1999 for Tanglewood on Parade, based on Eagle archives. In 1969, a efficiency by Jefferson Airplane, the Who and B.B. King drew greater than 22,000 listeners, based on printed reviews on the time.

This summer season’s salute to the famed movie and concert-hall composer included a short podium look by Williams main the “Indiana Jones” march and a slew of celeb company, together with stay appearances by Taylor, famous person cellist Yo-Yo Ma, famend violinist Itzhak Perlman, who had not carried out at Tanglewood since 2011, and saxophonist Branford Marsalis.

Williams led the Boston Pops for 14 seasons beginning in 1980, stays its conductor laureate and can be artist-in-residence at Tanglewood. He composed a few of his most celebrated movie scores whereas within the Berkshires for a number of weeks almost yearly since his appointment as Pops conductor.

The birthday-year occasion drew nationwide community tv protection. Boston Globe visitor reviewer W. Anthony Sheppard, a professor of music at Williams College, wrote of “the composer’s chameleon-like means to inhabit markedly totally different personalities. … The live performance reminded us that celebration has lengthy been his musical forte. Williams has succeeded Aaron Copland because the go-to composer for American ceremonial music.”

Additionally on the highest 10 listing: The screening of George Lucas’s “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Again,” with the complete rating carried out stay by the Boston Pops led by its conductor since 1995, Keith Lockhart.

Three extra BSO live shows on the chart featured Ma, Perlman, and the standard season finale, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Ode to Pleasure,” carried out by Michael Tilson Thomas.


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