Susan and I went to see James Taylor at Tanglewood last night. We’ve seen JT at least 15 times and this was the best performance we’ve ever seen for a lot of reasons.
First, he had an all-star band backing him up (picrure 1 below). There were huge names all over the stage.
Second, he seemed more animated than usual. He always puts on a great show, but this felt special. You could tell. Is it that this is Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary season? I don’t know but there was something exciting in the air last night.
And, the fact that Taylor Swift just dropped in out of nowhere as a guest, indicated to us that this was being filmed. It was pretty obvious that people were going to see this again.
James Taylor has a special connection to Tanglewood. Not only does he live right here in Lenox, but his wife Kim was the marketing director at Tanglewood for years.
Speaking of Kim, she joined him on stage last night for a song, as did his twin sons, Rufus and Henry (picture 4 below).
Between the regular show and the encores, he invited everyone to come on down. Susan and I worked our way down and ended up about six feet from the stage (picture 3 below). Check out the Berkshire Eagle review of the show for more info and some additional pictures.
JT is also performing tonight and tomorrow night. It's beautiful weather for a show on the lawn (picture 2 below). They haven’t announced the special guest but we’re sure it’s going to be special.
Summer isn’t just about the weekends, it’s three months of beautiful days for getaways. We have mid-week specials to make your weekdays: Special.
But let’s come back to those details and talk about what’s here during the week. All of the great restaurants and cultural attractions that make the Berkshires famous for weekend getaways are still here during the week. Even Tanglewood, our fabled summer festival has mid-week offerings.
Thursday, June 28th at 8pm, for example, you can experience the Mark Morris Dance Group. The legendary dancer/choreographer’s troupe will perform at Ozawa Hall, right here in Lenox. You can purchase your tickets ahead, online.
You can also check availability here at Hampton Terrace online. For multiple-night stays Sunday through Thursday, all rooms in the mansion or the Wynnstay Cottage are $199/night and King Suites are $275/night. If you have any questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In August 1934, a group of music-loving Berkshire summer residents arranged for members of the New York Philharmonic to perform three outdoor concerts…”
-from the Tanglewood website
So began the Tanglewood Festival, which Lenox, MA is proud to host. Many, many years and performances later, the festival draws visitors annually from around the world: 350,000 visitors, to be exact. Have YOU visited the festival? Which memorable performance made your visit special – which one made you realize that you had to come back again?
The focus of the festival is classical music offerings – after all, the festival is also the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra itself is even older than the festival, having been founded in 1881, and maintaining a level of artistry that is world-renowned.
Though the classical music offerings are at the heart of the festival, popular music also makes some appearances – James Taylorand his band take the stage July 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Jazz is also represented, though the Tanglewood Jazz Festival that normally occupies the final weekend (Labor Day weekend) is not occurring this year. Some jazz performances have been streamlined into the regular season lineup however, for example, Diana Krall appears on June 23rd. Non-musical offerings this season include a visit from A Prairie Home Companion and performances by the Mark Morris Dance Group.
Because we love to make your life simple and elegant, we’ve created a list of the 75th anniversary lineup here on our site for your convenience: 2012 Tanglewood Festival lineup. And here is a handy link for purchasing tickets to the festival.
Make sure to book your rooms early if you are attending the festival! And please call (1-800-203-0656) or email us if you have any questions about the festival season. We’re festival season pros and we’re happy to help in any way we can.
It has been a while since we did a blog on celebrity relationships at Hampton Terrace. Time to get back to it.
Last month we were honored to host Jerry Williams from California for a week. Jerry is a semi-retired percussionist... who has performed on more than 750 movie scores. Jerry, and his wife Shirley, were in town to enjoy "John Williams Movie Night," conducted by his brother....John Williams, of course.
Did John stay here? Not necessary, because John has a 30+ year relationship with the Berkshires and has his own 2-bedroom cottage (with grand piano) on the grounds of Blantyre.
But he did visit Jerry here at Hampton Terrace, and he played our Steinway Grand. Not content to let that be a "word of mouth" rumor for either Hampton Terrace or the Steinway, we asked Jerry if he would mind asking John to document his visit.
Within the week, the following note arrived:
I consider this extraordinarily generous on the part of John, of course, who took the time to send a letter from California. But especially from Jerry. This is akin to asking a girl if she would fix you up with her better-looking best friend.
But having spent a week with Jerry and his wife, I detected nothing but great respect and admiration for his brother, and a sense of awe at what John has accomplished. In my opinion, John Williams will be remembered as the greatest composer of this generation, and most probably of the century.
John's trip to our piano was not a serendipity. He has a passion for pianos, according to Jerry, and was especially intrigued by this one.
Our 1929 Steinway "L" has been played by many of the world's most famous musicians and singers, including Arthur Fiedler, Emanuel Ax, Van Cliburn, Roberta Peters, Robert Merrill, Jerome Hines, Robert Shaw, Claudio Arrau, Alicia de LaRocha, and others. Many signed the pin block.
How that came to be...will be the subject of another blog.
But add John Williams. Jerry has promised to be back. We are hoping it will be as soon as next summer, when it is a certainty that Tanglewood will do something special for John's 80th birthday.
Everyone knows the theater companies in the Berkshires are Broadway-quality. In fact, most of the summer productions are populated with Tony Award winners and nominees.
Notable actors and directors come to the Berkshires because (1) productions run just several weeks, therefore it is possible to shoehorn a performance between other theater, television or movie obligations, (2) the productions are of such a high level that working in the Berkshires is actually resume-building, and (3) they know the local audiences are appreciative, supportive and sophisticated.
So today we feature Barrington Stage Company, which has a brand new theater right off North Street in Pittsfield.
Julie Boyd, founder and driving force behind every facet of the company, chose the current location because of her penchant for staging lavish musicals. Formally located in Great Barrington (thus the name), Barrington Stage Company wanted to participate in the cultural revival of Pittsfield, and have a location equally convenient to north and south county. The theater she found has a large stage and orchestral pit and as of now, is completely restored and in service.
Fortune smiled upon the company when one of its experimental productions, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," found its way to Broadway, earned several Tony Awards, and then generated licensing funds which were steered into the new facilities.
The company also presents traditional theater in this venue, as well as in smaller-scale venues near-by.
This year's season is already underway and can be seen by clicking on the Barrington Stage website.
It is important to note that local theaters run six or seven days per week, allowing patrons to maximize their days in the Berkshires. In other words, if you plan to patronize Tanglewood on the weekends, why not add several days before or after the weekend to experience Shakespeare and Company, Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Jacob's Pillow and dozens of other Berkshire stages? That does not even cover the musical offerings beyond Tanglewood which go six or seven nights per week.
If you stay at Hampton Terrace in Lenox, you will not be wondering what to do with your time. We have assembed lists and resources to help you plan your stay. For your free guide to Berkshire offerings:
We have a coffee-table-sized book in our living room which gets the most wear of any other. Co-written by our friend, Nini Gilder, "Houses of the Berkshires" is well-researched and packed with rare photos never before assembled in a narrative about the impact the Gilded Age crowd and their architects had on the local countryside.
We bought the book the week it was published, but due to the limited market for it, it was soon out of print.
But thankfully, a revised edition has been created and is on sale at TheBookLoft.com. Until June 11th, it is 20% off.
I completely recommend this book as required reading for anyone who loves the Berkshires.
The Great Estates and the clusters of mansions that line the streets of Lenox, Stockbridge and Great Barrington represent the well-spring of all that is cultural about our area.
The Tanglewood estate became the summer home of the Boston Symphony. Cranwell, Wheatleigh, Blantyre, Canyon Ranch, Eastover and Kripalu's property are all estates that have become resorts and spas. The local Stanford White-designed gambling house became the Berkshire Theatre Festival. The critical mass of culture attracted Norman Rockwell, Sterling Clark and the founders of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. Ventfort Hall, The Mount, Chesterwood and Naumkeag have become historic house tours and museums. Elm Court hosts high-end weddings. Belvoir Terrace is a presigious arts camp. This list could go on and on.
So...who built these houses and why? What did they look like in their day?
First step....buy the book. Second step, plan a trip to Hampton Terrace and let us help you see every house you can. Since 1999, we have had 15,000 couples stay at Hampton Terrace and I assure you, they do not spend their days here staring at the walls. We send people out to sightsee and we have prepared lists to help them plan their stay. Want your list?
With the "Tanglewood" Season upon us, the Berkshire Eagle called lodging properties across the county to see how the summer was looking.
Titled, "Strong Tourism Season Expected This Year," Clarence Fanto highlighted special events, unique to this summer, which are helping to drive traffic into the inns.
North County is benefiting from MassMoCa's Wilco Solid Sound Festival, which was such a hit last year the concept is being repeated. Pittsfield and Great Barrington are each celebrating their 250th anniversaries with special programs.
And Tanglewood is filling three weekends prior to the arrival of the BSO, starting with the British Motorcar Festival the weekend of June 17th, Earth Wind and Fire the weekend of the 25th, and four James Taylor concerts leading into July 4th.
They also are helping the economy with several significant mid-week popular music shows, Steely Dan and Train.
For some Hampton Terrace quotes, click through to the article. Most of our weekends are already filled, but there are some openings still. Our "Mid-Week Special" of $199/night is filling the gaps between the weekends, as usual.
But there is still availability most weeks, so check with us.
Over 180 items to consider.....Tanglewood, theater and museum admissions, inn and hotel packages, dinners, summer camps, spa days, items from Berkshire retail shops and galleries....
Bidding has begun and it is all on-line. Bidding closes on June 5th, so you will know within 2 weeks if you have won your item.
BID ON A WEEKEND AT HAMPTON TERRACE! We donated a 2-night stay, worth $400+. Current bid is $120...so you might get a bargain visit...with all proceeds going to a good cause.
Some of the items are unique opportunities...not normally open to the public. For example, a chance to spend a day in the kitchen with a local chef, or tours of the private spaces and collections at some of the museums.
All proceeds will create a Berkshires Marketing Fund to replace shrinking state tourism marketing funds.
To keep our favorite venues, museums, restaurants and lodging establishments open and thriving, we all must all participate in the effort to keep our area on the tourism radar. That takes money, and if you look at the diversity of the auction items, you understand that this is an issue that everyone is taking very seriously.
So whether you are a local or a visitor, click below to see the auction items....and have fun bidding!
James Taylor lives in Lenox. We see him in the coffee shop, grocery store line.... of course, every summer at Tanglewood for multiple shows.
Many of our guests know this and ask.... why here? Notwithstanding the fact that among his most famous lines...
Now the first of December was covered with snow
And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
Though the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go
So why does he live here, in a town of less than 5,000? I ran across an interview with him in Berkshire Living Magazine. Rather than paraphrase...here is the link.
Taylor's wife, Kim, was marketing director for the Boston Symphony, and much of her job centered around promoting Tanglewood, down the street. She is from Albany, an hour away, and went to college in North Hampton, an hour the other direction...so landing in the Berkshires was natural for her.
And for James as well, having spent part of his 20s in Stockbridge. He met Kim at Tanglewood in 1993 at a John Williams conducted Pops concert. They married in 2001.
But the deciding factor was when they had twin boys in 2002. They started looking for a place to raise their sons...and after careful consideration, and a couple of false starts in other places, they landed in Lenox.
Tanglewood itself is the major beneficiary of this decision. James performs multiple shows every summer, with the majority of the cash flow remaining at the venue as a contribution. This has amounted to millions of dollars.
But going beyond Tanglewood....little known is the fact that Taylor jumped into action within days of the Haiti earthquake to do what he could to help.
He arranged a private show at the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington (680 seats), and said he would match all ticket proceeds with a personal donation. WAMC Northeast Public Radio broadcast the show live to solicit call-in donations. When the show sold out quickly, Taylor added a second show the next night. Total donations collected: $600,000. From the concept of the idea...to the end of the second show...less than a week.
Welcome to the Berkshires...where there the quality of life never ceases to amaze. Come visit!
Photos by Stan Grossfield/Courtesy of the Boston Globe
Earth Wind & Fire. Yo Yo Ma with the Mark Morris Dance Group. Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. Opening night of the Boston Symphony Season.
Whoa! And that is just from June 25 to July 8.....and does not include four performances by some local guy named James Taylor in the middle.
At some point I will wake up from this dream....that entertainment of this level is happening literally a walk from my front door. And yours too, if you stay at Hampton Terrace.
This morning, Tanglewood sent out a link for easy on-line purchase of tickets for these four performances.
We still have rooms at Hampton Terrace for all except the Saturday night Garrison Keillor show.
For a complete Tanglewood Summer Schedule, CLICK HERE.
To CHECK AVAILABILITY at Hampton Terrace, CLICK HERE.