It's said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but on Saturday, August 6, at Tanglewood in Western Massachusetts, BUTI will be in the beholder's ear.
BUTI stands for Boston University Tanglewood Institute, founded by Boston University upon the invitation of the legendary Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Erich Leinsdorf 50 years ago this summer.
This Saturday, BUTI will commemorate its 50th anniversary with a program featuring students and alumni performing together.
Best of all, tickets for the 2 p.m. concert are just $20, which makes Tanglewood exceptionally affordable for parents wishing to inspire their offspring to take their piano, violin, or singing lessons a little more seriously.
"There's something about youth making music that is very exciting," says BUTI executive director Hillary Field Respass.
"And it's great for our current BUTI students to have a chance to play alongside these alumni and hopefully be awestruck and inspired by the kind of sound of ensemble playing that BSO members have, which is really amazing."
The chief conductor is Ken-David Masur, himself a 1996 composition student at BUTI who considers himself grateful for the opportunity to make music at Tanglewood at a young age.
"I haven't met one person," Masur says, "who didn't have great experiences at BUTI. The program had a great impact on all of our careers and our lives."
BUTI was conceived as a means of fostering the next generation of great classical musicians, and half a century later, it's clear that this vision became reality.
BUTI serves as the first step up the ladder for student musicians hoping to study music at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony's bucolic (and busy) summer home in Lenox, Massachusetts.
BUTI attendees learn, perform, and attend concerts daily. They get to live and breathe music for the summer. The learning and contacts they make often launch careers.
BUTI alumni play in the Boston Symphony Orchestra and in other top ensembles around the world. They are accomplished composers and performers. One established the Dallas Street Choir, the world's first singing ensemble of homeless people.
The first half of the August 6 concert in Ozawa Hall looks back on BUTI's first fifty years, with the orchestra reprising a performance of Wagner's Overture to Die Meistersinger, which was played by the first Tanglewood Institute Orchestra on August 10, 1966.
You'll also hear an ensemble of 13 double basses perform a medley of musical remembrances compiled by Larry Wolfe, assistant principal bassist of the Boston Symphony and a member of that first 1966 BUTI class.
The second half looks forward, with newly commissioned works written especially for the 50th Anniversary, including a triple brass quintet by Timo Andres and a new piece for percussion ensemble written by Nico Muhly. Both Muhly and Andres are alumni of BUTI's Young Artists Composition Program.
Not everyone in BUTI is necessarily committed to a career in music when they arrive for the summer.
Says Respass, "Success for us doesn't necessarily mean being on the world stage. It means that you take this intense summer experience that you're surrounded by beautiful nature and surrounded by exceptional music making. You carry that with you not only as a badge of honor but as a responsibility to bring it with you to the next generation."
"Attending BUTI is a gut-check moment for young musicians," Masur says. "This is the moment," Masur says, "when the students ask, "Am I going to be in this profession? And I am going to want to give my life to something that is so extremely joyful, but that of course bears a great challenge, but ultimately a joy?"
"I tell our students we are privileged to be in a profession that allows us to go on a treasure hunt every day," Masur adds. "
There are professions where you go on a treasure hunt, but you don't find treasure. We know that, in our profession, if we go on the hunt, we are rewarded daily. That's a great privilege. And for them to see how much reward and how much treasure there is, I think that's what's special about Tanglewood."
Bringing your kids to this particular concert, and seeing young people performing, will "inspire kids to get more involved with music," Respass says, "and of course, that's one of the main goals of BUTI."
"Many adults who played music in their childhoods," he says, "will say, 'I was always told to practice and I didn't enjoy it very much.'
"Here, the kids see such great music-making that they're so inspired, they don't even think about practicing being work.
"Kids want to be able to do what they see other people doing. And they want to see that type of joy through their own music making. And that's what it's ultimately about."