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Into the woods

Boston University Tanglewood Institute celebrates its 40th anniversary

In the cool shade of maples and across green summer grass floats the sound of classical music. Here in the bucolic Berkshires landscape of Lenox, Mass., ambition and talent are also in the air: on Saturday, July 29, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, among the nation’s most competitive summer music programs for serious high-school-age musicians, will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a gala concert featuring a number of distinguished alumni. The students who make up the Young Artists Orchestra, the Young Artists Chorus, and the Young Artists Wind Ensemble can be seen about the grounds, practicing for the big event.

“Students here find themselves among soul mates,” says Phyllis Hoffman (CFA’61,’67), executive director of BUTI, director of the Young Artists Vocal Program, and an associate professor at the College of Fine Arts school of music. “There’s the opportunity for intensive study and performance, but the program really runs on a shared passion for music and the camaraderie of like minds that for most of these students exists nowhere else.”

A big part of the inspirational environment at Tanglewood is the institute’s ongoing relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in summer residence at Tanglewood, and with the Tanglewood Music Center, the BSO’s school for advanced musical studies. BUTI students have access to all the BSO’s summer performances, and their contact with TMC fellows gives them a glimpse of the preprofessional music world. Tanglewood introduces them to all the stages of a music career, and for many, shows them where their careers might lead: 24 of this summer’s TMC fellows are BUTI alumni, as are 11 members of the BSO. This rewarding relationship with the BSO makes BUTI unique among summer music programs for high school musicians. The institute also serves as a recruitment resource for the school of music; fully a third of the incoming freshman class is made up of BUTI alumni.

Each summer BUTI enrolls approximately 350 high school musicians, who meet rigorous audition requirements for admission. The programs, ranging from two to six weeks in length, offer an intensive experience of study, practice, and performance. A distinguished faculty of artist-teachers, many drawn from the ranks of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the CFA faculty, provide professional standards of instruction while also serving as role models. The eight-week summer season begins with a series of workshops for individual instruments and string quartets and continues with seminars for orchestra, wind ensemble, voice, composition, piano, and harp.

For the celebration of BUTI’s 40th birthday, the Young Artists Orchestra, made up of this summer’s students, will be conducted by BUTI alumnus James Gaffigan, currently assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. Other alums are featured soloists on the program. Matthew Gaunt, tubist with the ensembles Proteus 7 and Burning River Brass, will play Three Miniatures by Anthony Plog with the Young Artists Wind Ensemble, conducted by H. Robert Reynolds. Soprano Katherine Jolly (CFA’99), winner of the 2006 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, is the soloist for Poulenc’s Gloria with the Young Artists Chorus and Orchestra, under the baton of Ann Howard Jones, a CFA professor of music and director of choral activities at the school of music. Internationally acclaimed coloratura Georgia Jarman (CFA’97) sings a duet from Rossini’s Tancredi with noted recitalist and operatic mezzo Brenda Patterson. And Owen Young, cellist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, plays Dvorak’s Silent Woods with the Young Artists Orchestra.

The concert, which will be held at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, begins at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, and tickets are $11; for details and reservations, call 413-637-1430.