The story of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's new Seiji Ozawa Hall, at Tanglewood, in western Massachusetts, reads like a Hollywood movie--a movie not Oliver Stone. A famous big-city symphony orchestra decides to build a new concert hall at its rural summer facility, in addition to the one where the full orchestra performs. This hall will accommodate students, serve as a summer recording studio, and, most of all, be a perfect place to hear chamber music, small ensembles, and the student orchestra. An architect must be found to create a beautiful building--one that not only looks good but also sounds good. A list of prospective architects is drawn up. It consists of the most celebrated practitioners in the country and, because this is an orchestra that believes in blind auditions for unseasoned musicians, several young up-and-comers. Finally seven architects are invited to be interviewed. (Here is an opportunity for several cameo roles. Let us cast Brian Dennehy, who was the convincing star of Peter Greenaway's, and Richard Gere, who also once wielded a T square on film.) Gruff and rumpled, handsome and Armani-suited, the architects make their presentations to the orchestra committee, displaying portfolios bulging with photographs of impressive museums, dramatic corporate headquarters, and, of course, eye-popping concert halls.
Surprisingly, one of the unseasoned newcomers is among the chosen seven. (Tom Hanks has the Jimmy Stewart role.) He is hampered by never having built a concert hall, so he shows his latest project instead--affordable housing on the waterfront. Then he makes a fervent speech about the rural site of the new hall--its landscape, its spirit, its ambiance. He talks about the kind of building he thinks the orchestra needs: open, informal, yet reflecting the intensity of the music. It shouldn't overpower the place, he warns, and he calls it a background building. (This is a fine set piece: the earnest and impassioned architect confronting the attentive but skeptical committee of civic leaders, retired businessmen, and wealthy socialites.) Finally our hero returns to his office. He is dejected. The committee appeared interested, but what chance does he have against the architectural stars?