The instruments of young MetroWest musicians can be heard throughout the Berkshires as Boston University teams up with Tanglewood for its 42nd summer.

The instruments of young MetroWest musicians can be heard throughout the Berkshires as Boston University teams up with Tanglewood for its 42nd summer.


Students come from all over the country to participate and learn from some of the world's best musicians. This year a number of students are representing MetroWest - playing a different tune than their high school band.


Boston University Tanglewood Institute's summer program is for musicians ages 15 to 18 who show exceptional talent and want a taste of what a musical profession is like. BUTI consists of workshops, an orchestra of about 100 musicians, 55 in the wind ensemble, 30 in the piano program, 12 composers and five harpists.


The students get to live on campus, get free passes to the concerts on the grounds, and work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra to provide Young Artist concerts for the public.


That's where Mike Smalky, Matt Flynn and Priscilla Livingston play a part.


Smalky, 16, from Natick and Flynn, 18, of Westborough, are roommates and cellists at Tanglewood for six weeks of the summer. Livingston, 15, from Wellesley, has already returned from Lenox where she participated in a bass workshop.


To find the best musicians for their program, BUTI has a rigorous audition process.


The students can either send a CD or go to an audition site. There are a number of different sites across the country, some of which are Boston, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston.


"It's so cool that people can just come from everywhere and put it behind them and just play together," said Livingston, who was at Tanglewood for only two weeks but learned much in the short time. "It's so cool that you meet people who are just like you."


The majority of young artists want to pursue studies in music. Flynn fits right into this group. He will attend Boston University School of Music in the fall to major in cello performance.


Once in Lenox, the rehearsals, coaching, practicing and fun start.


Smalky and Flynn are currently at Tanglewood. While chatting in between rehearsals, Smalky gave a rundown of his typical schedule.


He goes to an optional experimental class from 7 to 8 a.m. that teaches yoga to musicians to see how it affects their performance. After that, he picks up his cello and rehearses with the orchestra from 9 a.m. to noon. Then small group or chamber rehearsal with a faculty member happens Monday, Wednesday and Friday for three hours. Sectionals, where the different instruments gather in their own groups to practice for the orchestra, replace chamber rehearsal on Tuesday and Thursday. On Friday afternoons, kids can schedule lesson time with one of the faculty members.


All this is preparation for the Young Artist concerts, which happen every two weeks.


It doesn't faze Smalky much since his schedule is always jam-packed. He attends music camps all summer and is involved in the Boston Youth Symphony, his school band, and the New England Conservatory's music prep school.


"I have been doing this for awhile so I guess I've kind of gotten used to it," Smalky said.


Having a roommate who plays the same instrument is helpful too.


"Matt helps me out sometimes," he said. "We'll practice together to get (our music) ready."


When they're not in rehearsals or practicing, Flynn and Smalky make trips into Lenox to get ice cream, rent movies or go to BSO concerts.


Most students stay at the 64-acre Tanglewood campus for six weeks during the summer. They are surrounded by everything musical - from their peers to the ground passes they receive to attend BSO concerts.


"(We are) so close to the Boston Symphony," said Flynn. "They are basically where we all want to be in 10 to 15 years."


Although there are many prestigious programs, BUTI is the only summer music program for this age group affiliated with a world-class orchestra, the Boston Symphony. The young artists are coached by musicians who are mostly from the BU School of Music, BSO members and part-time teachers.


"Our students are having a unique exposure to the highest level of professional music," said executive director Phyllis Hoffman.


Hoffman has spent the last 15 years directing and teaching in the Young Artists vocal program. In 1996 she became the director of BU's School of Music, which included administrative oversight of the BUTI program. In 2001 she left the director's position to return to full-time teaching but continued her duties at BUTI.


Hoffman praises the benefits of the program, but also the rising musicians.


"I really feel that our students are a remarkable representation of our generation," said Hoffman. "They are highly motivated, highly intelligent, exceptionally gifted and come to us at a time that I characterize as the golden age of development."


The boys have learned a lot from their fellow budding musicians.


"I think the greatest part for me is just being with a bunch of other young musicians who are very talented and love what they do," Flynn said.


The BUTI Young Artists Concerts at Tanglewood on West Street in Lenox are open to the public. The Young Artists Chorus's final concert is on Saturday, Aug. 4, at 2:30 p.m. and the Young Artists Orchestra performs on Saturday, Aug. 11, at 2 p.m. To purchase tickets call the BSO's SymphonyCharge at 617-266-1200 or 888-266-1200. For further information, call 617-266-1492 or 413-637-5165, or visit www.tanglewood.org to order online.