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Advisory Panel to Weigh Future of Tanglewood Institute

CFA summer program has served high school musicians since 1967

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Boston University Tanglewood Institute BUTI, College of Fine Arts CFA, music

The Boston University Tanglewood Institute in the Berkshires, a training program for gifted high school musicians, faces an uncertain future. Photo by Marie Força

As part of the University’s ongoing review of the quality, cost-effectiveness, and relevance to its core mission of programs in its schools and colleges, a newly formed advisory committee will consider the future of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI), a training program for young musicians ages 14 to 20, in Lenox, Mass., the Berkshires summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Attended by about 340 high school students or high school graduates each summer, BUTI has been a satellite of the College of Fine Arts since 1967, created by Edward Stein, then dean of CFA, as a counterpart to the BSO’s Tanglewood Music Center.

Calling the internationally recognized summer program “a valued activity,” Jean Morrison, University provost, wrote in an October 7 memo to CFA faculty and staff that in light of “increased pressures on scarce resources,” the University needs to constantly assess its priorities. Morrison has asked the ad hoc committee to submit recommendations regarding BUTI’s future to her and to University President Robert A. Brown before December 31, 2013.

Offering a variety of summer programs, BUTI is dedicated to young artists’ immersion in the discipline and pleasures of making advanced-level music in a bucolic setting. Gifted students from around the United States and nearly a dozen foreign countries share housing, a rehearsal hall, and studios, spread across scenic acreage. Expected to practice five or more hours a day, they also benefit from studying in the orbit of the orchestral world’s leading professionals, from the BSO—14 of whose members are BUTI alumni—to visiting performers.

But ongoing support for BUTI relies on “considerable investments by the University in subsidizing facilities, personnel, and infrastructure costs as part of our commitment to maintaining program excellence,” wrote Morrison. She has charged the advisory committee with reviewing all aspects of BUTI’s programs and activities and assessing the institute’s costs and benefits, providing data on student enrollments and placement after completing the program, operating expenses and revenue, contractual obligations and capital investment issues, and gathering “any other relevant information, then consider those in light of CFA’s and the University’s core academic mission.”

Nicole Hawkes, associate provost for strategic initiatives, will chair the nine-member panel. “The committee is charged with looking closely at all of the data around BUTI’s programs and activities to gain a full appreciation of its operational costs and tangible benefits to the School of Music, to CFA, and to the University,” says Hawkes. “The strength of the committee is in the variety of perspectives represented—some members have connections to BUTI and others have important knowledge and expertise that will help us to understand and evaluate the various information under consideration. We aim to develop a thorough understanding of the program and its relationship to BU’s academic mission in order to deliver a thoughtful recommendation on BUTI’s long term future.”

The other committee members are Lynne Allen, director of the School of Visual Arts, John Amend, CFA assistant dean for administration and finance, Michelle Consalvo, assistant vice president for government and community affairs, Richard Cornell, ad interim director of the School of Music, Sharon Daniels, a CFA associate professor of music, opera, and voice, Michael DiFabio, associate vice president, property acquisition, Derek Howe, vice president for budget and capital planning, and David Kopp, a CFA associate professor of music, composition, and theory, and associate director for academic affairs.

“This is not an easy task,” says Morrison. “BUTI has provided important musical experiences for many participants over its nearly 50-year history.”

9 Comments
Susan Seligson

Susan Seligson can be reached at sueselig@bu.edu.

9 Comments on Advisory Panel to Weigh Future of Tanglewood Institute

  • Karen on 10.30.2013 at 5:46 am

    The words “scarce resources” and Boston University should never be used in the same sentence. I can’t even believe what I just read. Not sure what’s behind this but a program like this should not be on the chopping block.

  • Anon on 10.30.2013 at 8:55 am

    Sorry, BUTI. We need that money to keep Allston sober.

  • Old School on 10.30.2013 at 11:06 am

    After over a decade of mismanagement at the School of Music, the fate of a program is being drilled down to an evaluation of the numbers. I truly hope the committee considers the context within which BUTI has operated, and understands how strengthening the College and the School in which it resides might yield a more financially sustainable program. BUTI and Tanglewood represent a prestige and opportunity, that once lost, will not be able to be replicated. If BU is serious about fine arts, BUTI should be supported even more, not eliminated.

  • Think Creatively on 10.30.2013 at 2:19 pm

    Given the enormous financial resources of the institution, I hope that BU will find a creative manner to support the Lenox location of BUTI. BU is also in the midst of a $1 billion dollar capital campaign. There should be at least a few alumni willing to cut a check for supporting BUTI in this iconic and world-class location.

    A final point… the cross subsidization of BUTI by other more “profitable” university units should not be considered odd. This is normal for any large non-profit whether it’s a hospital, university, etc. I think it comes down to commitment and priorities. I hope that the committee’s findings support a strategic reinvestment in BUTI, not cuts.

    http://www.bu.edu/ar/2012/financials/

    http://www.bu.edu/ar/2012/financials/BU-AR-2012-Financials.pdf

    http://www.bu.edu/cfa/tanglewood/admissions/tuition/

  • Shelley on 10.30.2013 at 5:08 pm

    You know…sometimes it is NOT all about the money. At a time when the performing arts are in jeopardy, it would be prudent of Boston University to be counted amongst those who actually support the performing arts. BUTI has a reputation for providing quality instrumental programs for young musicians. Surely Boston University sees the value in this.

  • lynne harding on 10.30.2013 at 8:25 pm

    a few arguments not pointed out in this article:
    First of all, this program is part of history. I quote below from BU’s own literature regarding the program.

    “In 1966, the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Erich Leinsdorf, invited Edward Stein, Dean of the Boston University College of Fine Arts, to create a summer training program for high school musicians as a counterpart to the BSO’s Tanglewood Music Center (TMC). Leinsdorf’s vision was of a program to challenge young musicians to perform at the highest level and allow them unprecedented access to the Tanglewood Music Festival. Stein approached Wilbur Fullbright, the newly appointed director of the Boston University School of Music at the College of Fine Arts. Fullbright’s enthusiasm for the project transformed Leinsdorf’s dream into reality, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute opened for its inaugural season in July 1966.”

    Such a prestigious selection for BU . How can anyone consider ending this legacy.

    Secondly, The article in BU Today did not stress the part of this program which is only possible if BUTI remains at the West St. campus. In addition to the BU programming which could exist anywhere, the uniqueness of the Tanglewood experience is the proximity to all the listening experiences offered without cost to these students. At no cost to them, BUTI students may attend all Boston Symphony concerts, all recitals by guest artists, all TMC concerts, and various rehearsals and Master Classes. This could not be replicated anywhere else.

    Thirdly, BU’s affiliation with this program puts it in the forefront of fostering the future of classical music for young people. As everyone knows, the public schools have cut back considerably on musical opportunities. I would hope BU would not do the same.

    Ways can be found to fund the renovations necessary to save the West St. Campus if it is a priority of your panel. I hope it will be.

  • Caroline Leguia on 10.31.2013 at 3:00 am

    I attended BUTI (young artists orchestra) in the summers of 2007 and 2009. It was one of the best experiences of my life. The idea that others might not get to enjoy the same experience breaks my heart.

    It would be foolish of the university to consider this a “less profitable branch”. Such a program draws many new students to our university. I attended the summer before I started as a student in CFA and met a lot of the incoming class there. A program of this quality allows students the opportunity to play in an orchestra and in chamber groups with other high-level players their age, when many may not have played regularly with any group other than the school orchestra or band. It also introduces students to excellent instructors (most of whom TEACH HERE). Even students who only spend two weeks there in a workshop can meet the teacher they want to study with in college. This kind of environment is what inspires people to dedicate their lives to the music profession.

    It’s not exactly cheap for those attending, either. The current price to attend is $2805 for a 2-week program, $6580 for 6 weeks (the length of the majority of the programs) and $7490 for the full 8 weeks. It might cost slightly less than summer tuition on-campus, but the students are high school kids, so it should be.

    If you can’t look at it in anything other than financial terms (which would be a real shame), consider how many hundreds of thousands of dollars of future tuition would be lost to other schools if this program ceased to exist. Consider all the other music schools in the area – NEC, Boston Conservatory, Longy, Berklee, and all the universities with music programs within them – and realize that in order to compete, we need to keep bringing in high-level players. If we cut BUTI, our would-be BU students will do their pre-college networking in other programs with other teachers and end up elsewhere. We would lose our best student players to other schools, and the overall quality of the players here would drop over time. We are incredibly lucky to have some of the world’s best musicians teaching at this school, but even with great teachers, students don’t improve as much when they aren’t surrounded by people who play better than they do. It’s essential. You learn from your peers almost as much as you learn from your teacher, and that can make or break someone’s decision to attend one school over another.

    I would urge anyone with any power over the future of BUTI to take all of this into account and not to do anything rash. There are so many things all over campus that we don’t need. BUTI, however, is not something we can afford to cut.

  • Mary Jane Stutz on 10.31.2013 at 8:48 am

    The more technology becomes ingrained in our lives, the greater the desire and importance of this program.

  • Connie on 10.31.2013 at 3:58 pm

    Why are there are no people from BUTI on the review committee?

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