Tanglewood 2021

Highlights from July 9 to August 16

By: - Apr 08, 2021

Highlights of 2021 Tanglewood Season, July 9–August 16

Marking the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s triumphant return to its summer home, BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons—who leads eight orchestra programs this summer—opens the BSO’s Tanglewood season on Saturday, July 10, with an all-Beethoven program, featuring one of the festival’s most preeminent guest artists, Emanuel Ax, performing the Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, on a program with one of Beethoven’s most iconic works, Symphony No. 5. In addition to Mr. Ax, many of Tanglewood’s most beloved performing artists who appear virtually every year at the festival, including Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Bell, will reunite with the orchestra this summer, along with BSO favorites Yefim Bronfman, Kirill Gerstein, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Leonidas Kavakos, and relative newcomers to the BSO, Daniil Trifonov, Baiba Skride, and Lisa Batiashvili. In a nod to the impact of the Tanglewood Music Center, three former Fellows representing three generations of conductors—Herbert Blomstedt (class of 1953), Alan Gilbert (class of 1987 and 1988), and Karina Canellakis (class of 2014)—will each lead the BSO in performance, with Ms. Canellakis making her debut appearance with the orchestra. BSO Assistant Conductor Anna Rakitina makes her long-awaited Tanglewood debut, postponed from summer 2020. BSO Artistic Partner Thomas Adès leads the BSO in performance and directs this year’s Festival of Contemporary Music, to feature works by ten living composers, including Andrew Haig, György Kurtág, Jeffrey Mumford, Per Nørgård, Andrew Norman, Steve Reich, Sean Shepherd, Kaija Saariaho, Xinyang Wang, and Judith Weir, as well as a work by Ligeti. Ligeti’s Violin Concerto will be performed by Anthony Marwood with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra under the direction of Stefan Asbury.

John Williams will lead the BSO and Anne-Sophie Mutter in the world premiere of his Violin Concerto No. 2. Mr. Williams also joins Keith Lockhart on the podium for the ever-popular John Williams’ Film Night and is the focus of a Lockhart-led Boston Pops concert dedicated to the wide-ranging styles of both Mr. Williams’ iconic and lesser-known film score themes. Wynton Marsalis (TMC Fellow 1979) leads the acclaimed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in a rare Tanglewood concert appearance, under the Tanglewood Music Center’s Full Tilt program that offers audiences bold, interactive programming by leading, innovative artists of our time. Two major chamber orchestra ensembles, Apollo’s Fire—one of the foremost Baroque ensembles—and The Knights—an adventurous young orchestra dedicated to breaking down barriers between audiences and music—make welcome returns to Tanglewood in 2021.

Works by important composers of our time, including Thomas Adès, Iman Habibi, Vijay Iyer, Hannah Kendall, Elena Langer, Missy Mazzoli, Jessie Montgomery, and Carlos Simon, will be performed by the BSO, Tanglewood Music Center Fellows, and guest artists and ensembles throughout the summer.

Perhaps a hidden gem on Tanglewood’s weekly schedule of performances, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, under the direction of Andris Nelsons, Herbert Blomstedt, Alan Gilbert, Thomas Adès, and Stefan Asbury, will perform its annual series of Monday-night performances, while also presenting chamber music concerts on Sunday mornings and Monday afternoons. The Tanglewood Learning Institute will present four of its most popular programs that were launched in its inaugural season in 2019, including The Big Idea with guest speaker Bill T. Jones, and TLI ShopTalks, which will be presented online in conjunction with the BSO’s regular series of online video performances throughout the Tanglewood season, available at TMC and TLI will come together this season for TLI OpenStudio, a series of teaching sessions between TMC Fellows and three of the most prominent musicians of our time—Andris Nelsons, Yo-Yo Ma, and Leonidas Kavakos.

Byron Stripling, in the role of conductor and trumpeter, will lead BSO musicians in the annual Family Concert with a special focus on folk, spiritual, gospel, and jazz music that defined and continues to influence American music today. The BSO also looks forward to reaching out to the community and bringing aspects of the Tanglewood experience to people who might not have a chance to visit the grounds. To that end, the BSO in partnership with Mill Town Capital will present Tanglewood in the City that will include a BSO concert video projected onto a screen set up on the Pittsfield Common; further details, including protocols for health and safety will be announced at a later date. In addition, BSO musicians will perform solo and small ensemble works in a variety of locations throughout the Berkshire region.

Tanglewood’s Popular Artist Concert Series will be announced at a later date. Tanglewood is targeting late August and early September for these concerts. Though dates for specific concerts may be announced by artists as part of their touring plans, Tanglewood ticket information will be announced as health and safety guidelines are established for late-summer concerts by the Centers for Disease Control, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the BSO’s management and team of advisors.

For the first time in the history of the Tanglewood festival, the live performance schedule will be accompanied by select weekly live video concert streams, available throughout the summer on the orchestra’s online streaming portal, BSO NOW, at, as a way of engaging music lovers, locally and globally, who are not able to attend Tanglewood’s live performances. BSO NOW video concert streams featuring select BSO Saturday-night performances and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra Monday-evening performances will be available online beginning one week after the live performances take place, July 9-August 16, and remain available for 30 days. Programs are subject to change, pending artist approvals. The BSO will also present online content for many of its well-known education programs at Tanglewood; click here for details about this summer’s online programs for the Tanglewood Music Center, Tanglewood Learning Institute, Days in the Arts (DARTS), and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

The Tanglewood grounds will open to visitors free of charge beginning Monday, June 14. The campus will be open seven days per week, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on performance days, when hours will vary. A schedule of times when the grounds are available to walk, picnic on, and enjoy is available at

Quote from Andris Nelsons, Ray and Maria Stata BSO Music Director

"This summer is destined to be incredibly special, as the BSO and I return to our beloved Tanglewood and concerts for live audiences. Among the many highlights planned, we will pay tribute to Beethoven and spotlight 19 important composers of our time, representing a beautiful spectrum of styles and diverse backgrounds.

"The Tanglewood season would not be complete without appearances by the BSO’s other artistic leaders: John Williams, Keith Lockhart, and Thomas Adès. We also welcome back such preeminent artists as Yo-Yo Ma, who will be featured in three appearances this summer, including an all-Tchaikovsky program led by Karina Canellakis. As a member of the class of 2014, Karina joins the distinguished Herbert Blomstedt and Alan Gilbert in representing three generations of former Tanglewood Music Center Fellows leading the BSO this summer. I am so delighted that Emanuel Ax will join me and the BSO for a performance of the Emperor Concerto in the orchestra’s greatly anticipated all-Beethoven opening concert.

"Other wonderful highlights include the return of Tanglewood favorite Joshua Bell, and a rare and very special appearance by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with the legendary Wynton Marsalis.

"A major presence this summer will be national treasure John Williams, who will lead the world premiere of his second violin concerto with the superb Anne-Sophie Mutter. Furthermore, John Williams will be honored in a Boston Pops concert led by Keith Lockhart and will share the podium with Keith for the ever-popular Film Night.

"All of us at the BSO feel a sense of joyful anticipation about the 2021 Tanglewood season, when we will once again make music for our devoted audience members. It promises to be a season to remember and cherish."