Musicians are often known for their extravagant tastes, and when they hit the big time, many employ all sorts of additional help. Diddy was once known to have a valet on his payroll, with his main task to hold an umbrella over the rapper. The Boston Symphony Orchestra isn’t too different.
“The players and their families like to swim,” says BSO managing director Mark Volpe. “So I guess we’re probably the only orchestra that employs lifeguards.”
A lifeguard is not quite as frivolous a way to save a musician from water as an umbrella holder, and when we examine why the BSO has such additional help, it makes more sense.
For eight weeks in the summer, the BSO relocates to the mountains of the Berkshires, in Lenox, Mass., where the group has a little beach on the 526 acres of the grounds known as Tanglewood.
The venue’s history is as rich as the green of its rolling hills.
“My office is where Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland had their office for about 35 years,” says Volpe. He’s not bragging as much as he’s marveling. “Hawthorne and Emerson and certainly Melville used to visit the grounds.”
Tanglewood is about a three-hour drive from NYC. One can easily picture the scenic grounds as the backdrop for a coming-of-age romantic comedy, as many of the players are younger.
“You have all of these 24- and 25-year-olds that are pre-professional, and I think the BSO players — I don’t want to speak for them, but there’s no cynicism because they remember what it’s like to be 24 and 25 and incredibly excited about the future and life in music,” says Volpe. “You really get that jolt of music, nature and youth. It’s very inspiring.”
This summer at Tanglewood
Aug. 4 and 15: Yo-Yo Ma
Aug. 16: Michael Feinstein
Aug. 19: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals with Josh Ritter
Aug. 24: John Williams Film Night, featuring Audra McDonald