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Peter Serkin

BSO Encore Performances from Tanglewood
Berlioz, Beethoven and Thompson



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Hosted by Jamie Bernstein

Seiji Ozawa’s brilliant 29-year tenure as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra ended with the completion of the 2001-2002 Symphony Hall season. His history with the orchestra and with Tanglewood was marked in a weekend of “Celebrating Seiji!” events, culminating in this performance in the Koussevitzky Music Shed. Maestro Ozawa leads a scintillating performance of a work strongly identified with the BSO’s legacy: Berlioz’s kaleidoscopic, virtuosic Symphonie fantastique. The Tanglewood Festival Chorus and six outstanding vocalists, along with perennial Tanglewood presence Peter Serkin as piano soloist, join Maestro Ozawa for Beethoven’s majestic and rousing Choral Fantasy in C minor. To conclude the concert, the audience was asked to participate in a performance of Randall Thompson’s a cappella Alleluia, the piece that opens the Tanglewood Music Center’s summer each summer. Also, a special note: BSO timpanist Everett Firth was acknowledged onstage at the end of this performance upon his retirement from the orchestra after his monumental 50-year career.

Featured Performers

Jamie Bernstein, host
Jamie Bernstein, host View biography in full page >

Jamie Bernstein is a writer, narrator, broadcaster and film maker who has transformed a lifetime of loving music into a career of sharing her knowledge and excitement with others. 

Inspired by her father Leonard Bernstein's lifelong impulse to share and teach, Jamie has devised multiple ways of communicating her own excitement about orchestral music. Beginning 15 years ago with "The Bernstein Beat," a family concert about her father's music modeled after his own groundbreaking Young People's Concerts, Jamie has gone on to design, write and narrate concerts for worldwide audiences of all ages about the music of Mozart, Copland, Stravinsky and many others. Jamie creates and narrates two educational concerts a year with the New World Symphony in Miami; these engaging, informal "Discovery Concerts" are specially designed to attract audiences of all ages who are less familiar with concertgoing. 

Jamie travels the world as a concert narrator, appearing everywhere from Beijing to London to Vancouver. A frequent speaker on musical topics, Jamie has presented talks around the world, from conferences in Japan to seminars at Harvard University. In Spanish-speaking locations such as Madrid and Caracas, Jamie narrates en español - thanks to her Chilean-born mother, Felicia Montealegre, who raised her children to be bilingual.

In her role as a broadcaster, Jamie has produced and hosted shows for radio stations in the United States and Great Britain. She has presented the New York Philharmonic's live national radio broadcasts, as well as live broadcasts from Tanglewood. 

Jamie is the co-director of a film documentary, Crescendo: the Power of Music --  which focuses on children in struggling urban communities who participate in youth orchestra programs for social transformation inspired by Venezuela's groundbreaking El Sistema movement. The film has won numerous prizes on the festival circuit, and is now viewable on Netflix. More about Crescendo: the Power of Music can be found at

Jamie has also directed her father's chamber opera, Trouble in Tahiti, in various locations around the country, including the Moab Music Festival and Festival del Sole in Napa, CA.

Jamie is currently at work on a memoir, title to be announced, which will be published by HarperCollins in the spring of 2018, when her father's centennial celebrations will be well under way around the world. Jamie and her siblings, Alexander and Nina, will be racking up unprecedented mileage points!

Jamie also writes articles and poetry, which have appeared in such publications as Symphony, DoubleTake, Gourmet, Opera News, and Musical America. She also edits "Prelude, Fugue & Riffs," a newsletter about issues and events pertaining to her father's legacy.

Jamie Bernstein, host Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Seiji Ozawa, conductor View biography in full page >

Seiji Ozawa is Music Director of the Vienna State Opera since the 2002/2003 season and is an annual and favored guest of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Prior to his Vienna State Opera appointment he served as Music Director of the Boston Symphony for 29 seasons (1973-2002), the longest serving music director in the orchestra's history. Mo. Ozawa is also Artistic Director and Founder of the Saito Kinen Festival and Saito Kinen Orchestra (SKO), the pre-eminent music and opera festival of Japan and in June 2003 it was announced that he would be Music Director of a new festival of opera, symphony concerts and chamber music called "Tokyo no Mori" which had its first annual season in February 2005 in Tokyo. The 4th season opera in April 2008 was Eugene Onegin. In 2000 he founded the Ozawa Ongaku-Juku in Japan, an academy for aspiring young orchestral musicians where they play with pre-eminent professional players in symphonic concerts and fully staged opera productions with international level casting. The Ongaku-Juku opera for July 2009 will be Hansel and Gretel.

In 2004, Maestro Ozawa founded the International Music Academy - Switzerland dedicated to training young musicians in chamber music and offering them performance opportunities in orchestras and as soloists. Its first season was at the end of June and beginning of July 2005 and its 6th season will be June 25-30, 2009. Since founding the Saito Kinen Orchestra in 1984, and its subsequent evolution into the Saito Kinen Festival in 1991, Mo. Ozawa has devoted himself increasingly to the growth and development of the Saito Kinen orchestra in Japan. With extensive recording projects, annual and world-wide tours, and especially since the inception of the Saito Kinen Festival in the Japan "Alps' city of Matsumoto, he has built a world-class and world-renowned orchestra, dedicated in spirit, name and accomplishment to the memory of his teacher at Tokyo's Toho School of Music, Hideo Saito, a revered figure in the cultivation of Western music and musical technique in Japan. The Saito Kinen Festival was from August 26-September 9, 2008 featuring concerts as well as staged performances of Cunning Little Vixen, with Maestro Ozawa as conductor.

During 2007/2008, Maestro Ozawa's appearances included: Far East tour of Le Nozze di Figaro with Vienna State Opera [Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, Keohsiung and Singapore]; Orchestre National de France concerts in Paris and at Besançon, Pique Dame with the Vienna State Opera; followed by Tannhäuser with the Opera National de Paris; Berlin Philharmonic European tour [Berlin, Paris, Lucerne and Vienna]; Zauberflöte für Kinder in Vienna; Elektra with Teatro Comunale di Firenze; Berlin Philharmonic concerts for the Salzburg Easter Festival; Japan performances with Tokyo Opera No Mori [Eugene Onegin]; Ongaku-Juku performances of Die Fledermaus followed by Saito Kinen concerts and staged performances of Cunning Little Vixen. Maestro Ozawa will be at Vienna State Opera in the 2008/2009 season with Pique Dame in September and October, followed by a tour in Japan with the Vienna State Opera in a production of Fidelio. November and December marks his return to the Metropolitan Opera, conducting Queen of Spades, as well as appearing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in late November. January 2009 he performs with the New Japan Philharmonic in Japan, returning to Europe for a performance with Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Salzburg's Mozartwoche on January 24, followed by concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He appears with Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris at the Bastille on February 7, returning to Vienna for Zauberflöte für Kinder on February 20 followed by Vienna State Opera's Eugene Onegin in March. During April he will be in Japan for performances with the New Japan Philharmonic, Ongaku Juku and the Mito Chamber Orchestra. Returning to Paris in May, he conducts the Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris with Renee Fleming on May 7; then tours with the Berlin Philharmonic also in May. Maestro Ozawa returns to Vienna State Opera for Eugene Onegin in late May/early June and following this period he has concerts in June with the Vienna Philharmonic. He will conduct and hold classes at his Swiss Academy June 25-30, returning to Japan for Ongaku Juku performances of Hansel and Gretel at the end of July followed by the War Requiem and concerts during the Saito Kinen Festival between August 26 and September 9, 2009.

Born in 1935 in Shenyang, China, Seiji Ozawa studied music from an early age and later graduated with first prizes in both composition and conducting from Tokyo's Toho School of Music. In 1959 he won first prize at the International Competition of Orchestra Conductors in Besançon, France, where he came to the attention of Charles Munch, then the Boston Symphony music director, who invited him to Tanglewood, where he won the Koussevitzky Prize as outstanding student conductor in 1960. While working with Herbert von Karajan in West Berlin, Mr. Ozawa came to the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who appointed him assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic for the 1961-62 season. He made his first professional concert appearance in North America in January 1962, with the San Francisco Symphony. He was music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony (1964-69), music director of the Toronto Symphony (1965-1969) and music director of the San Francisco Symphony (1970-1976). He first conducted the Boston Symphony in 1964 at Tanglewood and made his first winter subscription appearance with them in 1968. He was named Artistic Director of Tanglewood in 1970, Music Director of the Boston Symphony in 1973, leaving a legacy of brilliant achievement evidenced through touring, award-winning recordings (more than 140 works of more than 50 composers on 10 labels), television productions (winning 2 Emmy awards), and commissioned works.

Through his many recordings, television appearances, and worldwide touring, Mo. Ozawa is an internationally recognized celebrity. In recent years, the many honors and achievements bestowed upon Mr. Ozawa have underscored his esteemed standing in the international music scene. French President Jacques Chirac named him (1999) Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, the Sorbonne (2004) awarded him Doctorate Honoris Causa and he has been honored as "Musician of the Year" by Musical America. February 1998 saw him fulfilling a longtime ambition of joining musicians around the globe: he led the Opening Ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, conducting the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the SKO and six choruses located on five different continents - Japan, Australia, China, Germany, South Africa, and the United States - all linked by satellite. He received Japan's first-ever Inouye Award (1994), named after Japan's pre-eminent novelist, recognizing lifetime achievement in the arts. 1994 also saw the inauguration of the new and acclaimed Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood. Mo. Ozawa also has been awarded honorary degrees from Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts, Wheaton College, and the New England Conservatory of Music.

Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Peter Serkin, piano
Peter Serkin, piano View biography in full page >

Recognized as an artist of passion and integrity, the distinguished American pianist Peter Serkin has successfully conveyed the essence of five centuries of repertoire. His inspired performances with symphony orchestras, in recital appearances, chamber music collaborations and on recordings have been lauded worldwide for decades.     

Peter Serkin's rich musical heritage extends back several generations: his grandfather was violinist and composer Adolf Busch and his father pianist Rudolf Serkin. He has performed with the world's major symphony orchestras with such eminent conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Pierre Boulez, Alexander Schneider, Daniel Barenboim, George Szell, Eugene Ormandy, Claudio Abbado, Simon Rattle, James Levine, Herbert Blomstedt, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and George Cleve. A dedicated chamber musician, Mr. Serkin has collaborated with Alexander Schneider, Pamela Frank, Yo-Yo Ma, the Budapest, Guarneri, Orion and Shanghai String Quartets and TASHI, of which he was a founding member.  He has recently performed a duo-piano team with Julia Hsu.  They are devoting themselves to both one-piano, four-hands, as well as to two-piano music. 

An avid exponent of the music of many of the 20th and 21st century's most important composers, Mr. Serkin has been instrumental in bringing to life the music of Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Stravinsky, Wolpe, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Henze, Berio, Wuorinen, Goehr, Knussen,  Lieberson and others for audiences around the world. He has performed many important world premieres of works written specifically for him, in particular by Toru Takemitsu, Hans Werner Henze, Luciano Berio, Leon Kirchner, Alexander Goehr, Oliver Knussen, Charles Wuorinen and Peter Lieberson.  Mr. Serkin has recently made several arrangements of four-hand music by Mozart, Schumann and his grandfather, Adolf Busch, for various chamber ensembles and for full orchestra.  He has also arranged all of Brahms's organ Chorale-Preludes, transcribed for one piano, four-hands.        

The 2016 summer season featured engagements at the Ravinia and Music Mountain Chamber Music Festivals, BBC Proms and Bellingham Music Festival performing  concertos, chamber music, and duo piano programs with Julia Hsu. Mr. Serkin traveled to Havana, Cuba with the Bard Conservatory Orchestra in June and rounded out the summer as Artist-in-Residence at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, performing one recital and six collaborative concerts.  

With Julia Hsu, he plays piano four-hands in New York City, Beacon, NY, Mount Kisco, NY, Orange, CA and Oxford and orchestral programs with the Sacramento Philharmonic and Berkshire and Longwood Symphonies. He tours to Europe with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra following a run-out concert in Philadelphia. He joins members of the New York Philharmonic in a performance of the Busch Piano Quintet at New York City's Merkin Concert Hall at Kauffman Music Center in April.            

Orchestral highlights of recent seasons have included the Boston, Chicago, American, Sydney and Saint Louis Symphonies, New York Philharmonic and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, while recital tours have taken Mr. Serkin to Hong Kong, Cologne, Philadelphia, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Santa Monica, Princeton and New York's 92nd Street Y.  Recent summer festival appearances have included BBC London Proms, Tanglewood, La Jolla, Aldeburgh, Chautauqua and Denmark's Oremandsgaard Festival.          

Mr. Serkin currently teaches at Bard College Conservatory of Music.


Peter Serkin, piano Christine Goerke, soprano
Christine Goerke, soprano View biography in full page >

Soprano Christine Goerke has appeared in the major opera houses of the world including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera , New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Paris Opera, Théâtre du Châtelet, Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, Deutsche Oper Berlin, La Scala, Maggio Musical Fiorentio, Teatro Real in Madrid, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, and the Saito Kinen Festival. She has sung much of the great soprano repertoire, beginning with the Mozart and Handel heroines and now moving into the dramatic Strauss and Wagner roles. She has also received acclaim for her portrayals of the title roles in Elektra, Ariadne auf Naxos,   Norma and Iphigenie en Tauride; Kundry in Parsifal, Ortrud in Lohengrin, Leonora in Fidelio, Eboli in Don Carlos, Dyer's Wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes, Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, Alice in Falstaff, and Madame Lidone in Dialogues des Carmelites.

Ms. Goerke has also appeared with a number of the leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Houston Symphony, Radio Vara (at the Concertgebouw),  Sydney Symphony, New Zealand Symphony, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. She has worked with some of the world's foremost conductors including James Conlon, Mark Elder, Christoph Eschenbach, Claus Peter Flor, James Levine, Sir Charles Mackerras, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa, Donald Runnicles, Esa-Pekka Salonen, the late Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin, Patrick Summers, Jeffery Tate, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Edo de Waart

Ms. Goerke's recording of Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra won the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Classical Recording and Best Choral Performance. Her close association with Robert Shaw yielded several recordings included the Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes, Poulenc's Stabat Mater, Szymanowski's Stabat Mater, and the Grammy-nominated recording of Dvorak's Stabat Mater. Other recordings include the title role in Iphigenie en Tauride for Telarc and Britten's War Requiem, which won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance.

This season, Ms. Goerke's many engagements include her first fully staged performances of Brünnhilde in Die Walküe at both the Canadian Opera Company and the Houston Grand Opera, the title role in Florencia en el Amazonas at the Washington National Opera, and Elektra at the Michigan Opera Theatre.  Other future plans include the full Ring Cycle at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, and the Houston Grand Opera.

Ms. Goerke was the recipient of the 2001 Richard Tucker Award.

Christine Goerke, soprano
Cynthia Haymon Cynthia Haymon Paul Plishka, bass
Paul Plishka, bass View biography in full page >

Paul Plishka is a notable American bass singer, known for a wide range of major and supporting roles. Both his parents were American-born children of Ukrainian immigrants. As a boy, he was interested in farming and football, but also took guitar lessons. His teacher insisted that he learn to sing while playing, so he would sing popular songs such as Love is a Many-Splendored Thing. When his father moved to a new job in Paterson, New Jersey, Paul, joined the school chorus. Soon, he was offered the part of Judd Fry in the school production of Oklahoma! He was spotted by Armen Boyajian, who was starting a local opera workshop. Plishka joined Boyajian's Paterson Lyric Opera Theatre.

Paul Plishka sang major roles - Raimondo in Lucia di Lamermoor, Guardiano in La Forza del Destino, and King Philip in Don Carlos - when he was only 21. Meanwhile, Boyajian taught him singing. Plishka was his first student, and Boyajian was Plishka's only teacher. Plishka attended Montclair State College in New Jersey, where he met his future wife, Judy. At the age of 23, he won the Baltimore Opera Auditions, and then won a prize in the Metropolitan Opera Regional Auditions. This earned him a contract with the national touring company of the Met during what turned out to be its final year. After that, they offered him a contract to be a cover (understudy) singer in buffo parts. He accepted the offer, becoming a member of the company in 1966 and debuting on-stage as the Monk in La Gioconda in 1967, followed by "all these real ham, basso-buffo roles" (Plishka's description), parts such as the Sacristan in Tosca and Benoit in La Bohème.

As a member of the Met company, Paul Plishka earned a reputation as a "house singer," a term which, when the house is of the caliber of the Met, is respectable, but which also carries an implication that the singer somehow lacks some ingredient required for stardom. He was reliable; he did 118 performances in his second season, with Boyajian listening carefully to all of them and making needed corrections at any sign of strain from this heavy schedule. The roles were generally small ones, but each season Plishka got opportunities the next season to sing roles of increasing importance and depth, so he remained attached to the Met. The roles he was singing included King Marke in Tristan, Oroveso in Norma, and both Pimen and Varlaam in Boris Godunov. Eventually, he got to sing more important parts, like Leporello in Don Giovanni and King Philip.

After several years, Paul Plishka began appearing widely in other houses, taking major parts. He appears regularly with major opera companies in North American cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Baltimore, Houston, Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Diego, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. In Europe, he has performed in Geneva, Munich, La Scala, Hamburg, Barcelona, Vienna, Berlin, Zürich, Paris, Lyon, Marseilles and Covent Garden, London. He debuted as Mephistofeles in Berlioz's Damnation de Faust in Strasbourg in 1974, and began getting the more important bass parts. He made his Milan's La Scala debut with the same role, also in 1974.

Paul Plishka has been admired in many important roles since his debut at the Metropolitan Opera, where he sung well over 1,000 performances. The Met graduated him from Pimen and Varlaam to the part of Tsar Boris in 1983. But his voice is most often associated with Italian opera, especially Don Carlo, Ernani, Simon Boccanegra, Nabucco, Aida, I Vespri Siciliani, Luisa Miller and La Forza del Destino. During the 1992-1993 season, to mark his 25th anniversary as a principal member of the company, he sang the title role of Falstaff there for the first time. He is also renowned for his appearances in the title role of Boris Godunov. 

Among his many recent credits have been performances in San Francisco of War and Peace and I Capuletti e i Montecchiand appearances with the Metropolitan Opera in The Flying Dutchman, La Bohème, L'Elisir d'Amore, Parsifal, Khovanshchina, and Aida. His concert appearances have included engagements with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has travelled to Geneva for Benvenuto Cellini, to Montréal for Nabucco, to Barcelona for Simon Boccanegra and to Mexico City for the Verdi Requiem. He has sung Boris Godunov in Kiev and has toured with La Scala to Japan and Korea, singing in Nabucco, Turandot, I Capuletti e i Montecchi and the Verdi Requiem. He continues to perform, and in the 2008-2009 season, he is appearing in La bohème at the Met.

Paul Plishka has an extensive discography on Angel, ABC, Columbia, Erato, London, RCA and Vox Records. His recording of the Verdi Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Robert Shaw won a Grammy award for the best classical album of 1988. He has also recently recorded Luisa Miller and the Marriage of Figaro, both with James Levineand the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for Sony Classical, and L.v. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Andre Previn, for London/Decca.

Paul Plishka has sung in almost all the major bass parts in several leading opera theaters. He is also a renowned concert singer, and has sung with many leading symphony orchestras and conductors. His extraordinary voice and impeccable artistry combine to make him one of the world's foremost singers, praised by critics for his smooth, beautifully produced bass and polished dramatic skills. His singing and physical acting (including a daring fall) electrified the audience. This distinguished American artist has become one of the most widely acclaimed and sought-after singers of our time.

Paul Plishka's artistry was recognized in 1992 when he received the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts and when, several years earlier, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great American Opera Singers in a celebration at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

Paul Plishka, bass
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, (TFC)
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, (TFC) View biography in full page >

Tanglewood Festival Chorus
James Burton, BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
John Oliver (1939-2018), Founder

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus joins the BSO this season for performances of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Poulenc’s Gloria led by Andris Nelsons (September 19-21, the opening program of the 2019-20 subscription season); Galina Grigorieva’s On Leaving and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 2, also under Maestro Nelsons (November 21-26); Duruflé’s Requiem under Giancarlo Guerrero (February 27-March 3), and Stravinsky’s Perséphone with Thomas Adès conducting (March 26-28). In addition, to mark the TFC’s fiftieth anniversary in April 2020, James Burton leads the ensemble in a post-concert Casual Friday performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (April 17). Originally formed under the joint sponsorship of Boston University and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus was established in 1970 by its founding conductor, the late John Oliver, who stepped down from his leadership position with the TFC at the end of the 2015 Tanglewood season. In February 2017, following appearances as guest chorus conductor at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, and having prepared the chorus for that month’s BSO performances of Bach’s B minor Massled by Andris Nelsons, James Burton was named the new Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also being appointed to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director. Mr. Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair on the Boston Symphony Orchestra roster.

Though first established for performances at the BSO’s summer home, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus was soon playing a major role in the BSO’s subscription season as well as BSO concerts at Carnegie Hall; the ensemble now performs year-round with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops. It has performed with the BSO on tour in Hong Kong and Japan, and on two European tours, also giving a cappella concerts of its own on those two occasions. The TFC made its debut in April 1970 at Symphony Hall, in a BSO performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Leonard Bernstein conducting. Its first recording with the orchestra, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with Seiji Ozawa, received a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance of 1975. The TFC has since made dozens of recordings with the BSO and Boston Pops, with Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Leonard Bernstein, Sir Colin Davis, Keith Lockhart, and John Williams. In August 2011, with John Oliver conducting and soloist Stephanie Blythe, the TFC gave the world premiere of Alan Smith’s An Unknown Sphere for mezzo-soprano and chorus, commissioned by the BSO for the ensemble’s 40th anniversary. Its most recent recordings on BSO Classics, all drawn from live performances, include a disc of a cappella music marking the TFC’s 40th anniversary; Ravel’s complete Daphnis et Chloé (a 2009 Grammy-winner for Best Orchestral Performance), Brahms’s German Requiem, and William Bolcom’s Eighth Symphony for chorus and orchestra (a BSO 125th Anniversary Commission). On July 4, 2018, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus joined Keith Lockhart for the “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular” on the Charles River Esplanade.

Besides their work with the BSO, TFC members have also performed with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic and in a Saito Kinen Festival production of Britten’s Peter Grimes under Seiji Ozawa in Japan. The ensemble had the honor of singing at Sen. Edward Kennedy’s funeral; has performed with the Boston Pops for the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics; and can be heard on the soundtracks of Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, John Sayles’s Silver City, and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. TFC members regularly commute from the greater Boston area and beyond to sing with the chorus in Boston and at Tanglewood. For more information about the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and upcoming auditions, please visit


Tanglewood Festival Chorus, (TFC) John Oliver, conductor
John Oliver, conductor View biography in full page >

John Oliver founded the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in 1970 and has since prepared the TFC for more than 900 performances, including appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Tanglewood, Carnegie Hall, and on tour in Europe and the Far East, as well as with visiting orchestras and as a solo ensemble. He has had a major impact on musical life in Boston and beyond through his work with countless TFC members, former students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where he taught for thirty-two years), and Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center who now perform with distinguished musical institutions throughout the world. Mr. Oliver's affiliation with the Boston Symphony began in 1964 when, at twenty-four, he prepared the Sacred Heart Boychoir of Roslindale for the BSO's performances and recording of excerpts from Berg's Wozzeck led by Erich Leinsdorf. In 1966 he prepared the choir for the BSO's performances and recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 3, also with Leinsdorf, soon after which Leinsdorf asked him to assist with the choral and vocal music program at the Tanglewood Music Center. In 1970, Mr. Oliver was named Director of Vocal and Choral Activities at the Tanglewood Music Center and founded the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. He has since prepared the chorus in more than 200 works for chorus and orchestra, as well as dozens more a cappella pieces, and for more than forty commercial releases with James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis, Leonard Bernstein, Keith Lockhart, and John Williams. He made his Boston Symphony conducting debut at Tanglewood in August 1985, led subscription concerts for the first time in December 1985, conducted the orchestra most recently in July 1998, and returned to the BSO podium to open the BSO's closing Tanglewood concert of 2010 with a TFC performance of Bach's motet, Jesu, meine Freude.

In addition to his work with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Tanglewood Music Center, Mr. Oliver has held posts as conductor of the Framingham Choral Society, as a member of the faculty and director of the chorus at Boston University, and for many years on the faculty of MIT, where he was lecturer and then senior lecturer in music. While at MIT, he conducted the MIT Glee Club, Choral Society, Chamber Chorus, and Concert Choir. In 1977 he founded the John Oliver Chorale, which performed a wide-ranging repertoire encompassing masterpieces by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Stravinsky, as well as seldom heard works by Carissimi, Bruckner, Ives, Martin, and Dallapiccola. With the Chorale he recorded two albums for Koch International: the first of works by Martin Amlin, Elliott Carter, William Thomas McKinley, and Bright Sheng, the second of works by Amlin, Carter, and Vincent Persichetti. He and the Chorale also recorded Charles Ives's The Celestial Country and Charles Loeffler's Psalm 137 for Northeastern Records, and Donald Martino's Seven Pious Pieces for New World Records. Mr. Oliver's appearances as a guest conductor have included Mozart's Requiem with the New Japan Philharmonic and Shinsei Chorus, and Mendelssohn's Elijah and Vaughan Williams's A Sea Symphony with the Berkshire Choral Institute. In May 1999 he prepared the chorus and children's choir for André Previn's performances of Benjamin Britten's Spring Symphony with the NHK Symphony in Japan; in 2001-02 he conducted the Carnegie Hall Choral Workshop in preparation for Previn's Carnegie performance of Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem. Also an expert chef and master gardener, John Oliver lives in western Massachusetts.

John Oliver, conductor
Program Notes Audio
BERLIOZ - Symphonie fantastique (52 min)
BEETHOVEN - Fantasy in C minor for piano, chorus, and orchestra
THOMPSON - Alleluia
Full Program Notes - Full Program Notes