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August 19, 2009

James Taylor is generous donor to Boston Symphony

James TaylorMaybe James Taylor will start a fad among pop stars -- supporting classical music in a big way. He's donating $500,000 to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the fee he would have pocketed for a five-day festival at Tanglewood, the orchestra's summer home in the Berkshires.

Taylor notes that “the support for classical music is diminishing." He and his wife, a former Boston Symphony staffer, "have real concerns for what the future is for it. We also know it takes a huge structure to maintain a symphony and a lot of money.’’

Now, imagine how cool it would be to hear Britney or Lil Wayne say -- and do --something like that, too. (Go ahead, suspend disbelief for a second.) 

Here's more on this feel-good story from the Boston Globe:


LENOX - The tickets sold out faster than any others in recent Tanglewood history. And they were not for just one night, or one show; these tickets were for a weeklong festival celebrating a bald, 61-year-old, baby boomer icon.

James Taylor, who has adopted the Berkshires as his home and musical headquarters, will be performing at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer campus. What’s more, the Grammy-winner, starting next Wednesday, will be the centerpiece of an unprecedented five-day festival. Never before has the BSO devoted so much attention to a mainstream musician.

For the BSO, which has faced financial challenges in recent years, the Taylor event will do more than introduce new visitors to the lush grounds of the campus. It will provide a financial boost. Instead of being paid for the gig, Taylor will give the symphony $500,000, his earnings after expenses. For Taylor, who has literally married into the BSO - his wife, Kim, was a longtime staffer and has now been elected to serve as a trustee - the concerts, roundtables, and master classes represent his latest and most dramatic show of support for the institution. Taylor, who played the cello as a boy, said that it is not by chance.

“The support for classical music is diminishing,’’ Taylor explained on a recent afternoon from his home in Lenox. “We have real concerns for what the future is for it. We also know it takes a huge structure to maintain a symphony and a lot of money.’’

The amount of Taylor’s gifts - the couple gave $500,000 this year and more than $700,000 in total from 2005 to 2008 - is large but not unheard of. The BSO has 60 other donors who have given $1 million or more over time. What makes the giving special, though, is that it is coming from a pop superstar. It comes as the relationship between the institution and the singer deepens.

Taylor has already committed to a pair of shows next July, and Mark Volpe, the BSO’s managing director, said that the singer can return for as long as he wants ...  


Posted by Tim Smith at 3:12 PM | | Comments (1)


I'm imagining.. Well, _trying_ to imagine "how cool," anyway... Commencing: attempt to suspend disbelief--


Oh, Tim, your sense of humour!

James Taylor has always been a class act, so I'm not surprised by his generosity. And _plenty_ of pop stars are worth their weight in gold.

But the two you specifically mentioned (intentionally, I hope?) just about had me howling!

I mean, I don't think either Eminem or Kid Rock is going to make a contribution to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra anytime soon.

In all fairness to them, they _do_ inhabit a music world far removed from the orchestra and its provisions. (And the ones mentioned here definitely have more than a little dysfunction in their lives...)

I'm going to listen to some late Shostakovich quartets now, to bring me back to a more serious mood. ;^)

How about the Jonas Brothers? TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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