Marin Alsop Leads Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Works by Copland, Ellington and Mark O'Connor, January 31-February 3
Explorer Series Concert celebrates music of America; Composer and violinist Mark O'Connor performs his American Seasons
Baltimore, Md. (December 21, 2007) - Marin Alsop will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in works by American composers Duke Ellington, Aaron Copland and Mark O'Connor, January 31 at the Music Center at Strathmore and February 1-3 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. As part of the Explorer series, this program celebrates America's diverse landscapes and cultures with Duke Ellington's Harlem and Aaron Copland's Appalachian Springs. As part of the BSO's "Year of the Composer," violinist and composer Mark O'Connor joins the Orchestra to perform the violin solo in his American Seasons. See below for complete program information.
Mark O'Connor is widely recognized as one of the most gifted contemporary composers and violinists in America. As both a country fiddler and a jazz violinist, O'Connor creates high-energy fusions of bluegrass, jazz and classical traditions. In an interview with the Washington Post, O'Connor said "I'm interested in changing the sound of the violin for today, or maybe for the next generation. I'm trying to seriously fuse several elements: roots music and folk music with classical, coming up with a new style that could be inviting to all audiences." In addition to his concert performances, on Wednesday, January 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Theatre Project, O'Connor will participate in Composers in Conversation. Hosted by Marin Alsop, the new lecture series offering patrons a unique opportunity to engage with each of the 11 contemporary composers featured in the 2007-2008 season.
O'Connor's original style is evident in American Seasons (Seasons of an American Life), which fuses blues and swing and includes a guitar in place of the harpsichord. This piece explores the seasons of human life: birth/infancy (spring), adolescence/young adulthood (summer), maturity (fall), old age/death (winter). Modeled after the "Seven Ages of Man" speech in Shakespeare's As You Like It, O'Connor will play the subject in an enchanting violin solo.
Rounding out the program are Copland's Appalachian Spring and Ellington's Harlem. Copland's Pulitzer Prize-winning Appalachian Spring conveys the life of early American settlers with the eloquence and simplicity of that era. The composition paints a vivid picture of the lush American countryside with influences from folk songs and Shaker dance tunes from the early 19th century, including the familiar "Simple Gifts" melody. Harlem mixes upbeat swing and slow wailing blues in a series of vignettes of 1950s Harlem. Described by the New York Times as "a wonderful, kaleidoscopic piece," Ellington uses a recurrent jazz motif to illustrate Harlem's diverse neighborhoods.
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.
Mark O'Connor, composer and violin
A product of America's rich aural folk tradition, Mark O'Connor's journey began at the feet of violin masters: Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson and French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli. Along the way, Mr. O'Connor absorbed knowledge and influence from a multitude of musical styles and genres. He has melded and shaped these influences into a new American classical music.
His first recording for the Sony Classical record label, Appalachia Waltz, was a collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and double bassist Edgar Meyer. Mr. O'Connor gained worldwide recognition as a leading proponent of a new American musical idiom. The tremendously successful follow-up release, Appalachian Journey, received a Grammy Award in February 2001.
The producers of the six-part PBS documentary on the American Revolution approached Mr. O'Connor to contribute music to their long-form work. An album of the music he created, Liberty!, was released on the Sony Classical label in 1997 and features Mr. O'Connor's arrangements of a variety of traditional American music and expansive original orchestral works.
Mr. O'Connor first performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in June 1993 and also performed his Double Concerto with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the BSO in September 2000.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Composers in Conversation: Mark O'Connor
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 7:30 p.m.-Theatre Project, 45 West Preston Street, Baltimore, Md. 21201
Tickets are $10 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444 or 410.783.8000, or BSOmusic.org.
Explorer Series: America
Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.-The Music Center at Strathmore
Friday, February 1, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.-JMSH
Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.-JMSH
Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 3:00 p.m.-JMSH
Marin Alsop, conductor
Mark O'Connor, violin and composer Ellington: Harlem
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Mark O'Connor: American Seasons
Special anniversary pricing 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 BSOmusic.org.