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Tanglewood Learning Institute | Full Tilt


Our Full Tilt August lineup celebrates two artists who both, in their time, broke the mold of what was regarded as the “typical” composer. Tanglewood Learning Institute will bring these creators and their artistic genius to the forefront for a new generation of adventurous audiences in the present day. Join us in exploring the compelling—and subversive—legacies of John Cage and Joseph Bologne.


The Swashbuckling Chevalier

The life of Joseph Bologne could have been ripped from the pages of an Alexandre Dumas novel. Born in the French West Indies as the illegitimate son of a French nobleman and an African slave, Bologne was raised and educated in mid-18th century Paris, where he became an expert fencer, boxer, and marksman. His athletic prowess and gallant nature brought him patronage, connections, and adoration from leading figures in French society—including Marie Antoinette. Though he encountered abhorrent racism on a daily basis, “Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges” triumphed over prejudice to lead both soldiers and symphony orchestras. He enjoys the extraordinary distinction of serving as the composer and conductor of works at Paris’ Palais-Royale, as well as the commander of an all-black legion in the French Revolutionary War.

It’s no surprise that Bologne’s compositions are as dramatic and complex as the life he lived. A virtuoso on the violin, he wrote and conducted beautiful string quartets, concertos, symphonies, and operas. Unfortunately, much of his music was lost in the confusion and violence that ensued in the wake of the French Revolution. On August 19, acclaimed composer and director Bill Barclay will bring Bologne—and his compositions—back to life in his new piece of music and theatre, The Black Mozart. Barclay’s production focuses on Bologne’s relationship with Mozart, illuminating one of the most fascinating and unexplored musical exchanges in history. Combining elements of Amadeus and Othello, The Black Mozart will excite, inspire, and transform your perspective on two musical giants at the peak of their creative powers.


An Ode to Listening

John Cage may be the only composer remembered as much for the silences he embraced as for the sounds he created. From “4’33,”—three silent movements totaling four minutes and 33 seconds—to “Silence,” his collection of essays and anecdotes, his unconventional approach to composition marked him as a controversial figure throughout his career. But his unique methods weren’t intended to provoke; they were the direct manifestation of his desire to listen carefully and objectively to all that surrounded him. In the words of his biographer, Kenneth Silverman, Cage was “driven by an ideal of nonmythic listening and seeing,” an ethos he never abandoned.

On August 4, we invited TLI participants to cast off the trappings of genres and the tropes of the avant-garde as the experienced—carefully and objectively—to Cage’s work. Our production of Song Books, Cage’s collection of 90 solos for voice, voice with electronics, and theatrical action with and without electronics, formed the backdrop for an unforgettable evening of promenade music, theater, and film. Curated by soprano Tony Arnold and pianist Stephen Drury, our performances explored themes of freedom, nonviolent resistance, and even environmental sustainability—all of which can be traced to Cage’s seminal work. A selection of songs were combined with complementary film excerpts, resulting in a one-of-a-kind evening spanning our Full Tilt and Cinematics programs.

Donate Today

You can help the BSO ensure that Tanglewood remains vibrant and unique among summer festivals by supporting Tanglewood Forever. Donate online now, or contact the BSO Development Office at 617-638-9267 or for more information.