In Frigid Early Spring, Lining Up for a Rite of Summer in Western Massachusetts

The temperature was 25 degrees at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, with wind-whipped flurries in the air, as Gary Soldati pulled his pickup truck into the parking lot at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s outdoor concert venue in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts.

Four hours remained before tickets for the summer season went on sale. Even in the wintry darkness, Mr. Soldati, 72, of West Stockbridge, could see he was the first one there. Now all he had to do was wait: for the box office to open at 10 — and then for summer to begin.

According to the calendar, it was the first day of spring. But in New England, it would be weeks before the air turned reliably balmy. In the meantime, residents were clinging to signs that the cold would eventually retreat: a stray crocus in the yard. An extra hour of daylight. The annual unlocking of the Tanglewood box office.

Two miles away in downtown Lenox, locals were keenly aware of the day’s significance.

“You start to see a glimmer,” said Monika Pizzichemi, manager at the Wit Gallery and a third-generation Tanglewood enthusiast. “We are on the cusp, and it’s coming.”

Gary Soldati made fishing lures in his truck while waiting for the box office to open.Credit…Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times
Leslee Carsewell had a list of shows she wanted to attend.Credit…Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

By late June, the town of 5,000 will be crowded with visitors from New England and beyond, many of whom could not fathom summer without Tanglewood and its open-air concerts — until the pandemic hit. The season was canceled in 2020 and cut in half in 2021, leading to painful financial losses for a region whose aging, shrinking population relies heavily on the economic boost the two-month festival brings.

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