Tanglewood Tales: William R. Hudgins, principal clarinet
Q: Where will you be staying this summer?
A: After many years of renting each summer, my wife and I had a log cabin built in West Stockbridge. We even had some fun joining in on the build, and then doing a lot of the interior finish work. So now, we are able to come and stay in the Berkshires any time of the year we wish and, of course, we always live there each summer.
Q: Who is planning to stay with you or visit you?
A: We have occasional friends stop in. We especially enjoy visits from our two young nieces, who often come for a week each summer.
Q: What do you like to do during your free time in the Berkshires?
A: While Tanglewood is in session free time is not always so plenteous. I don't know if any of our audiences have ever thought about it, but for many of us in the BSO, Tanglewood is actually a very busy time. In Boston, for the winter season, we usually have one program a week that we repeat all weekend, here in the Berkshires we often play two or three different programs each weekend, so that means two or three times the amount of personal preparation. In my case on the clarinet that also includes having enough reeds ready to go. However we do enjoy carving out some time for gardening, hiking and partying.
Q: What's your favorite Berkshires restaurant?
A: Our longtime favorite has always been the Swiss Hutte, right near the Catamount Ski area. We have been going there for years and it is always consistently excellent. It is always my wife's pick for her birthday.
Q: Which cultural institutions do you visit while you're in the Berkshires?
A: We always enjoy meeting with our friends at the Christ Trinity Church in Sheffield, an incredibly welcoming place. And often we try to take in a play or two at one of the many theater groups found all around the area during the summer. My wife, Cathy, has also so much enjoyed working with the West Stockbridge Historical Society. Cathy and Bob Salerno, the president of the historical society, together dreamed up the idea of presenting some chamber music concerts to help raise money to restore the old Town Hall in West Stockbridge. Cathy formed the West Stockbridge Chamber Players and has been performing three concerts a year at the Town Hall for the last five years. Bob Salerno, with his incredibly able team of volunteers from the historical society, has sold out every performance. It has helped to save the old Town Hall, which had been hiding a little acoustical gem of a hall for years and years.
Q: What's the best experience you've had during summers in the Berkshires?
A: My absolute favorite moment came one late night as we were returning to our cabin. We live on a quite wooded lot and, as we turned up into our long, skinny driveway, we must have startled a fox making his way through the woods up ahead of us. The car headlights captured the fox as he made a long arching 2-foot-high jump over our driveway, it was stunningly beautiful. He was not so close to the car that we were ever worried for his safety and so, it was just one of those moments that you wish you could have back over and over.
Q: What's the strangest experience you've had during summers in the Berkshires?
A: Maybe about 15 or 16 years ago now, on a Friday or Saturday night in the Shed at Tanglewood, the BSO had just started into the Sixth Symphony of Tchaikovsky. The piece begins with a long, slow soft bassoon solo played by my colleague Richard Svoboda, who sits right next to me on stage. Of course, in the orchestra, one tries to be a little bit still and quiet when a neighbor is performing a touchy part. But this evening as Richard got a few moments into the solo there was clearly something strange and disturbing happening out in the audience, I had no idea what it was, and I was surreptitiously trying to see as much as I could.
This was not so long after the horrible 9/11 events, and so that was in the back of my mind as I, and I am sure all my colleagues and much of the audience, were staining to see and understand what could be going on out in the crowd on the lawn.
And yet, here was my colleague still softly and carefully playing right next to me. Nobody, especially me, wanted to disturb him, and yet surely we had to know what was out there.
Luckily, at the same time, we started to hear some of the audience scream, we also heard some of them actually start to laugh. The laughing helped to take away the fear factor, and now even the conductor picked up on the fact that the music had to stop.
He signaled for Richard to end and we all turned to address our attention to the audience. Much of the lawn crowd and some of the indoor people along the edges were actually jumping up and running, along with yelling and whooping.
It turned out that somehow the automatic lawn sprinklers had come on full force and were totally dousing many of our patrons.
Q: What's your favorite outdoors spot (other than Tanglewood) in the Berkshires?
A: Not far from my house in West Stockbridge, I like walking the trail to the top of Harvey Mountain, picking some wild blueberries and enjoying the view.
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