Bernstein in the Berkshires: Tanglewood to Celebrate a Local Hero

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Leonard Bernstein conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” in 1970. Credit Heinz Weissenstein/Whitestone Photo, via BSO Archives

Leonard Bernstein first visited Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home in the Berkshires, in 1940 as a young conducting student. Fifty years later, in 1990, he conducted the last performance of his life there — a gripping account of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

So it is only fitting that as orchestras around the world celebrate the centennial of Bernstein’s birth, Tanglewood, his longest-standing artistic association, is planning to go all out next summer. The festival announced Thursday that it would dedicate the season to him, perform 15 of his major works, and mark his 100th birthday, on Aug. 25, with an all-star concert that it hopes will be televised.

Here’s a look at highlights of its Bernstein-heavy season, which runs from June 15 to Sept. 2.

Man of the Theater

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Leonard Bernstein conducting a rehearsal in one of Tanglewood’s barns, circa 1971. Credit Heinz Weissenstein/Whitestone Photo, via BSO Archives

Think New York, New York is a helluva town? There will be a fully staged performance of Bernstein’s “On the Town” featuring Keith Lockhart leading the Boston Pops. Do you feel pretty? The Boston Symphony will perform his score of “West Side Story” live as the film is screened.

More of an operatic type? A semi-staged production of his 1952 one-act opera, “Trouble in Tahiti,” will be directed by Jamie Bernstein, the composer’s daughter, and a fully staged performance of its 1983 sequel, “A Quiet Place,” will feature young musicians from the Tanglewood Music Center, where he often taught in the summers. The Knights, a Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra, will give two fully staged performances of his operetta “Candide” at Ozawa Hall.

Feel like dancing? Andris Nelsons, the music director of the Boston Symphony, will conduct a performance of “Fancy Free” danced by the Boston Ballet.

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