You always know it’s Tanglewood when…

This morning I whacked my way through a few sets with three of my Tanglewood tennis pals. Tom Gauger, former BSO percussionist, is our gang’s organizer. Charlie Schleuter is the former BSO principal trumpet player, and Jay (who probably has a last name like the rest of us) is a music lover and retired businessman from Houston who comes to the Berkshires every summer to attend the concerts.

We’ve been playing Monday morning doubles for more years than I care to remember and my guess is we’ve slowed down considerably. Our overhead slams look more like drop shots these days. But we do manage to get some good aerobic exercise, even if most of it is from retrieving errant balls, and the camaraderie makes up for any lack of athletic expertise. Charlie has a new joke for us every week, most of them unprintable, so there’s always something to look forward to.

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A relaxed moment.

This morning was cool and dry with just enough cloud cover to make it possible to serve without being blinded by the sun. I mention the weather because over the weekend all three of the Boston Symphony’s concerts suffered from the fate the gods had ordained: being dumped on by intermittent deluges. After three weeks of almost no rainfall, last Friday morning started out suffocatingly hot and muggy. By the time the evening concert ended, it was chilly enough to make the fingers sluggish and wet enough to make a flounder smile. (Whether flounders can actually smile is anyone’s guess since their mouths go sideways.) By Saturday morning’s open rehearsal it was downright cold. Jennie Shames, my colleague in the violin section, reminded me of the punchline about the baby polar bear who wasn’t sure he really was a polar bear. ‘Why not?’ asked the mother. ‘Because I’m f—ing cold!’ said the baby.

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Tanglewood in the rain, ca. 1955 (from Yankee Magazine)

Rainouts seem to be the BSO’s summer calling card. If the folks in California were really serious about solving their drought problems they would call the Boston Symphony and book them to play an outdoor concert. Fortunately, the Tanglewood Shed stage is covered, as are seats for about 5,000 devotees. The brave folks on the lawn have to manage with umbrellas and, on rare occasions, snorkels.

Nevertheless, when all is said and done, we’re paid to play, and to play well. This past weekend was highlighted by performances of Prokofiev 5th Symphony, Saint-Saens Violin Concerto #3 with Josh Bell, Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe, and Carl Orff’s ever-popular Carmina Burana,which anticipated video game music by well over half a century. Sunday afternoon was a Boston Pops concert for which I had not been hired to play. But all was not lost. I got to watch Portugal beat France 1-0 in extra time in the UEFA soccer final, while outside my window it rained cats and dogs. With Tanglewood as with France, there will always be a next time. Yet the last time I checked, the weather forecast predicted sunny skies for the next three days, then on Friday…you guessed it.


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