Marin Alsop Leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Works by Tchaikovsky, Barber and Brahms, October 25-28
Program features Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony and Pianist Garrick Ohlsson performing Barber's Pulitzer Prize-winning Piano Concerto
Baltimore, Md. (October 3, 2007)- Maestra Marin Alsop will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a concert of Romantic and 20th-century works, October 25, 26 and 28 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and October 27 at the Music Center at Strathmore. The program features Tchaikovsky's triumphant Symphony No. 5 in E minor and Brahms' Tragic Overture, as well as Samuel Barber's Pulitzer Prize-winning Piano Concerto, performed by American pianist Garrick Ohlsson. These concerts mark Maestra Alsop's first appearance with the BSO since becoming music director in September 2007. In addition to these concerts, the BSO will open its Thursday, October 25 rehearsal of this program to the public at no charge, as part of Free Fall Baltimore, the city's month-long celebration of the arts. See below for complete program and ticketing information.
By the time of the 1888 premiere of his Symphony No. 5, Tchaikovsky was an established composer of international fame. Yet as he set out to write his newest symphony, he wrote to his benefactress that, "I am desperately anxious to prove not only to others, but to myself, that I am not played out as a composer." The first performance of Symphony No. 5, under the baton of Tchaikovsky himself, was an instant popular success, yet some critics judged the energetic final movement as crass and overdone, and thus Tchaikovsky labeled the entire work a failure. Perhaps a reflection of the composer's own struggles, the work's motto theme, repeated in each movement, represents Fate, triumph and perseverance in the face of evil, with the fourth movement's exuberant closing fanfare representing a final victory. Always one of the most beloved of Tchaikovsky's works, Symphony No. 5 reached the apex of its popularity during World War II, when during a 1941 performance by the Leningrad Radio Symphony Orchestra, the German military began its siege of the city. Despite the bombs falling around the concert hall, the orchestra played the piece through to the end.
Acclaimed pianist Garrick Ohlsson will join Maestra Alsop and the BSO in Barber's Pulitzer Prize-winning Piano Concerto. Originally commissioned in 1959 by Barber's publisher, G. Schirmer, in honor of the company's centenary, the work debuted in 1962 for the opening of Lincoln Center's Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fischer Hall) with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and pianist John Browning. Although much of the work is suggestive of a Romantic concerto, particularly the subdued second movement, there are many contemporary elements throughout the work. Among these are the frequent and sudden changes of mood and character in the first movement and the imitation of a Balinese gamelan in the final movement's solo material. Barber was awarded his second Pulitzer Prize for the concerto in 1963 (the first was in 1958 for his opera Vanessa ) and a Music Critics Circle Award the following year.
A critically acclaimed interpreter of Brahms, Maestra Marin Alsop will open the program with the composer's Tragic Overture. Written in 1880, the same year as his jesting Academic Festival Overture, Brahms himself commented on the opposing natures of the two works saying, "one laughs while the other cries." Though the work does not refer to a specific tragedy, its dark melodies convey deeply subdued and doleful emotion.
Marin Alsop, conductor
Hailed for her dynamic musicianship, artistic vision and commitment to accessibility in classical music, Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. With her inaugural concerts in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra, mirroring her ongoing success in the United Kingdom as principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony since 2002.
In summer 2005, she was named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, the first conductor ever to receive this most prestigious American award. The first artist to win Gramophone's "Artist of the Year" award and the Royal Philharmonic Society's Conductor's Award in the same season (2003), Maestra Alsop recently won the Classical Brit Award for Best Female Artist of 2005. In July 2007, she was honored with a European Women of Achievement Award presented to individuals whose vision, courage and determination have made a major impact on increasing the influence of women in European affairs.
Ms. Alsop is a regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as with many distinguished orchestras worldwide. After a highly successful 12-year tenure as music director of the Colorado Symphony, Ms. Alsop continues her association as conductor laureate; she also continues as music director of the highly acclaimed Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California.
Marin Alsop is a native of New York City; she attended Yale University and received her master's degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she became a prizewinner at the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition in New York, and in the same year, she was awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at the Tanglewood Music Center, where she was a pupil of Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and Gustav Meier.
Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Since winning the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess, especially noted for his masterly performances of the works of Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire.
In addition to his symphony orchestra appearances across the United States and in Europe, Mr. Ohlsson opened the 2006 Mostly Mozart Festival in New York in a live, nationally televised performance. He is a founding member of the San Francisco-based FOG Trio.
A native of White Plains, N.Y., Mr. Ohlsson began his piano studies at the age of eight. He attended the Westchester Conservatory of Music and at 13, entered The Juilliard School in New York City. His musical development has been influenced by a succession of distinguished teachers, most notably Claudio Arrau. He makes his home in San Francisco.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Celebrity Series (Meyerhoff)/Classical Saturdays (Strathmore): Tchaikovsky's Fifth
Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.- Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Friday, October 26, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.- JMSH
Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.-The Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 3:00 p.m. - JMSH
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop, conductor
Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Brahms: Tragic Overture
Barber: Piano Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5
Special anniversary pricing for the 2007-2008 season at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is made possible by generous underwriting from the PNC Foundation.
Tickets for these concerts range from $15 to $84, and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444 or 410.783.8000, or www.BSOmusic.org.
FREE OPEN REHEARSAL
Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 10:00 a.m.
As part of Free Fall Baltimore, city's month-long celebration of the arts, the BSO will open this rehearsal to the public, completely free of charge. The full-concert rehearsal will be followed by a "Q&Alsop" discussion session with Maestra Alsop.
This event is free, but all attendees must register in advance to obtain a voucher. To obtain a free voucher, email FreeFall@BSOmusic.org
or call 410.783.8044.