LENOX, Mass. — The conductor Andris Nelsons was coaxing the students in the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra into a Mahlerian frenzy: crouching low during quiet passages, leaping at fortissimos, exhorting them to play with meaning and passion and fervor.
“For Mahler,” he said at one point, “I think every note is like ‘To be or not to be.’ ”
It is a rite of summer for the music center students to play with the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (which extended Mr. Nelsons’s contract in that role this week), but their rehearsal here last week had an added significance. It was for one of this season’s marquee events, celebrating the 75th anniversary of their school, the Tanglewood Music Center, founded in 1940 by Serge Koussevitzky, the Boston Symphony’s longtime music director, as an elite summer academy in an idyllic setting.
They were rehearsing a monumental concert to be held here on Saturday night and simulcast live in Boston’s Copley Square: Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 8, sometimes called his “Symphony of a Thousand.” (Tanglewood officials said their concert would involve around 333 performers, counting the large orchestra, the three different choruses used and the starry roster of singers, including Christine Goerke and Matthias Goerne.)
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