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December 4, 2003

Boston Globe

Many of us have heard the Tanglewood Chorus already, whether in the haunting choral soundtrack of "Saving Private Ryan" or the voices in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." The group sang on Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" soundtrack, recorded in the director's presence at Symphony Hall.

"Considering films and the many recordings made by the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops, the TFC is among the world's most listened to choruses, and in New England the most beloved," says Keith Lockhart, who will conduct the group in about 30 Holiday Pops concerts beginning Tuesday. "It's axiomatic at Symphony Hall that if you want the audience to love you, get the TFC involved." Many of the 250-plus members shape their lives, careers, family duties, and vacations around their addiction to singing behind the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops orchestras, both in Boston during the concert season and summers in residence at Tanglewood. Aside from the satisfaction of making spectacular music, none is paid a dime.

"After food and sex, singing with the TFC is my other priority," says one 20-year veteran soprano. Her priorities reverse, she adds, during concert times.

The Tanglewood chorus' rise was not meteoric. It took up most of the 29-year tenure of Seiji Ozawa. In its first two seasons as the voices of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the fledgling chorus followed a long tradition of joining university choruses onstage. Not until the summer of 1971 at Tanglewood did the chorus stand alone on the risers, and since then it has not ceded the territory.

In its first overseas performances, the chorus joined Ozawa and the symphony on tour in Japan and Hong Kong in 1994. In 1998, singing from the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations, the chorus became the collective voice of the United States.

Ozawa conducted the Winter Olympics Orchestra with six choruses on five continents -- including the Tanglewood chorus -- all linked by satellite, in the choral movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to close the inaugurating ceremonies of the Nagano Olympics. More

Posted by acapnews at December 4, 2003 10:57 PM

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