BALTIMORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA ANNOUNCES 2008-2009 SEASON
"[Marin] Alsop has reinvigorated the orchestra, institutionally and artistically."
-The New York Times (October 2007)
MARIN ALSOP HONORS LEGACY OF MENTOR LEONARD BERNSTEIN ON 90th ANNIVERSARY OF HIS BIRTH
Alsop to Lead BSO in Bernstein's Mass at New York's Carnegie Hall and United Palace Theater, The Kennedy Center and in Baltimore
SEASON PAIRS MUSIC BY GUSTAV MAHLER AND LEONARD BERNSTEIN
MOST SUBSCRIPTION SEATS OFFERED AT $25 FOR SECOND SEASON, Made Possible Through Mellon Foundation Matching Grant
New Four-Concert Series, "Off the Cuff," Debuts in Baltimore, Hosted by Marin Alsop
BSO Performs East Coast Premieres of New Works by Composers Christopher Rouse and Jennifer Higdon; Co-Commissions Higdon Violin Concerto Performed by Hilary Hahn
Roster of Distinguished Guest Conductors Includes Yuri Temirkanov, Mario Venzago and Leonard Slatkin; Conducting Debuts by Stéphane Denève and Vasily Petrenko
Guests Soloists to Include Hilary Hahn, Vadim Repin, Savion Glover, Nelson Freire, Evelyn Glennie, Yefim Bronfman, Nikolai Znaider and narrator Kweisi Mfumé; Debuts of Pianists
Lukás Vondrácek and Frank Braley and Cellist Daniel Mueller-Schott
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Performs Season-Opening Gala Concert September 13
Conductor Leonard Slatkin Pays Homage to Edgar Allan Poe's Bicentennial with The Raven
BSO Special Edition of Dvorák's "New World" Symphony Releases Today
(Baltimore, Md.) February 27, 2008–Music Director Marin Alsop and President and CEO Paul Meecham today announced via live webcast the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's 2008-2009 season, Marin Alsop's second season since assuming the podium as Music Director in September 2007. A major theme of the BSO's new season will be a commemoration of the life and work of Maestra Alsop's iconic musical mentor, Leonard Bernstein, on the occasion of what would have been the composer-conductor's 90th birthday. Significant works by Bernstein, including his Mass and Symphony No. 1, "Jeremiah," will be paired with the symphonies of another legendary composer-conductor, Gustav Mahler. The BSO has also co-commissioned a new violin concerto by composer Jennifer Higdon, to be given its East Coast premiere with the BSO in a performance by Baltimore native Hilary Hahn, June 4-7. Marin Alsop, who championed music by living composers in her inaugural season, will lead the East Coast premiere of Baltimore native Christopher Rouse's Concerto for Orchestra, November 21 and 23, 2008. She also leads works by two living composers, UFO by Michael Daugherty and New Morning for the World by Joseph Schwantner. In addition to a September 13 Gala concert with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Maestra Alsop will lead 13 subscription programs and will appear on nearly all of the BSO's subscription series, including a Family Concert program.
Consistent with the BSO's mission to develop new audiences, the BSO is pleased to offer $25 subscription seats to its Baltimore patrons for the second consecutive year, made possible through a $250,000 matching grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Subscription seats throughout more than 70% of the hall will be priced at $25; a majority of premium orchestra level and box seats, or approximately one quarter of capacity, will be available for $50.
"We have accomplished so much at the BSO this past season, and I am most proud of the connections the Orchestra has made with the music-lovers in Baltimore and the Washington, D.C. area," remarked Music Director Marin Alsop. "The Orchestra's commitment to access and inclusion has guided every aspect of our programming and brought waves of new audiences to the BSO. Each season we will focus on the music of a significant composer. In the 2008-2009 season, we will feature two: my mentor and hero Leonard Bernstein, and one of the composers he personally championed, Gustav Mahler."
Marin Alsop's first season as music director of the Baltimore Symphony continues to draw attention and critical praise from around the world. The Orchestra's recent return trip to Carnegie Hall, its first under Marin Alsop's baton, was given a resoundingly positive reception, with The New York Times saying, "Ms. Alsop showed complete control, infectious enthusiasm and canny pacing….the playing in Ms. Alsop's first New York appearance as music director, was excellent." Of Maestra Alsop's inaugural concert in September 2007, The Washington Post praised it as "…an exhilarating program that promises much for the future of this partnership…The Baltimore Symphony and Marin Alsop make beautiful music together." The Baltimore Sun recently reported that "Today's BSO is revitalized and refocused," and the same paper's editorial board called the 2007-2008 season, "Clever, inspired and inclusive."
A Protégée Celebrates Bernstein's Legacy
In her second full season on the BSO podium, Maestra Alsop dedicates several programs to the legacy of Leonard Bernstein, her childhood hero and mentor, who helped in her development as a conductor. Marin Alsop's relationship with Leonard Bernstein began at the age of nine, when her parents took her to the New York Philharmonic's Young People's Concerts. It was here that the budding violinist was influenced by the inspiring conductor and at once determined to make conducting her life's passion. Later, in 1988, as her career rapidly advanced, she was awarded the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center's Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellowship, giving her the opportunity to work closely with her idol in the summer of 1988. The two remained very close until Bernstein's death on October 14, 1990.
With her natural charisma, easy rapport and propensity for communicating from stage, Alsop is often credited with continuing Bernstein's legacy. Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times wrote, "Bernstein was an important mentor to Ms. Alsop, and she remains one of his most sensitive interpreters." Reminiscing on her interactions with the man known as one of the greatest living American conductors, Marin Alsop says, "To those who knew him, Bernstein was larger than life. In the eyes of a young conductor, he was at the absolute center of the universe. On a personal level, my admiration was spilling over because he lured the audience in with his incomparable storytelling. Bernstein taught us that every piece of music has a story behind it, and it's the responsibility of the conductor to bring that story to life. Internalizing that philosophy has helped me share with audiences everything from the great masterpieces to the least approachable music. This was perhaps the most valuable piece of advice he imparted to me-it has made me a better conductor and a better storyteller."
Immortal Music: The Music of Leonard Bernstein
The centerpiece of the BSO's 2008-2009 season will be multiple performances of Leonard Bernstein's Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers, commissioned for the 1971 opening of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. This work requires more than 200 performers: the BSO will play the dual roles of symphony orchestra and rock band, joined by two organs, nine percussionists, marching bands, dancers, the Morgan State University Choir and a children's choir. Staged by the acclaimed opera director James Robinson and conducted by Marin Alsop, Mass is scheduled for performances in Baltimore at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, October 16-18 featuring the Morgan State University Choir, the Peabody Children's Chorus and baritone Jubilant Sykes in the role of celebrant. On October 24, the Orchestra brings Bernstein's dramatic work to New York's Carnegie Hall, where it will be joined by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Carnegie Hall recently announced a yearlong festival for its 2008-2009 season, Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds, in which the Baltimore Symphony is proud to participate as one of the musical highlights.
Reflecting Bernstein's legacy as an extraordinary educator with a profound gift for reaching out to the community, a key component of Carnegie Hall's Bernstein Festival will be The Bernstein Mass Project, an expansive education program for New York City public school students. Starting in spring 2008, hundreds of students will engage in a variety of educational initiatives created by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, exploring Bernstein's Mass and the work's themes of faith, doubt, tolerance and renewal of tradition. For the project's grand finale, participating students will come together to create a massive choir of 800 to 1,000 young people, performing Mass with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the United Palace Theater in Upper Manhattan on Saturday, October 25.
After 37 Years, BSO Brings Mass to The Kennedy Center
On Sunday, October 26, Marin Alsop will lead the BSO in Bernstein's Mass at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. This concert will mark only the third performance of this monumental work at The Kennedy Center since it premiered at the venue's opening on September 8, 1971. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the Kennedy family originally commissioned the work by Bernstein, a longtime family friend, who decided to compose a requiem for the assassinated President that would pay tribute to his standing as the nation's first Roman Catholic U.S. President. Bernstein chose the liturgical structure of the Catholic High Mass as his musical framework.
At the 1971 premiere, then-Kennedy Center board chairman Roger Stevens recalled the performance as "the most thrilling night I have ever spent in the theater. The production lasted one hour and forty-five minutes. There was not a sound from the audience. At the end there were about three minutes of silence and none of us knew whether we had a failure or a hit on our hands. Then everyone rose to their feet and cheered for half an hour."
"Leonard Bernstein, for me, was the greatest risk-taker in 20th-century classical music," says Marin Alsop. "He thrived on conflict and this is nowhere more evident than in his most controversial composition, Mass. Even the response to Mass was divisive: the public loved it but most of the critics hated it. The vitriolic reaction to the 1971 premiere caused him great heartache, because this work, more than any other, contains the essence of this complex man and artist."
Inspiring Genius: Bernstein and Mahler Paired in 2008-2009 Season
More than any other conductor in the 20th century, Leonard Bernstein is credited with championing the music of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. In the 1960s, as music director of the New York Philharmonic, the ever-eloquent advocate regularly programmed Mahler's music, transforming the composer's reputation and prompting a veritable "Mahler revival" in America and overseas. In 1967, Bernstein became the first conductor to record the complete Mahler symphony cycle for the CBS label.
Bernstein's personal connection to Mahler's music was fervent and he made it his mission to popularize not only Mahler's symphonies but a broader range of his repertoire. "In a sense, all great interpreters inhabit the souls of those whom they interpret," wrote John Rockwell (The New York Times, 1988). "Mr. Bernstein seems able to undergo a particularly intense and complete form of self-transformation in all the music he conducts. And to no composer does he seem to feel a closer identification than Mahler. If Mr. Bernstein doesn't actually become Mahler when he conducts, he acts as if he had, and that's enough to convince himself-and through him, us-that he has become a clear vessel for Mahler's genius."
The early talents of both musical giants, Mahler and Bernstein, will be on display September 25-28 when Marin Alsop leads performances coupling the composers' respective first symphonies: Mahler's Symphony No. 1, "Titan," (written when Mahler was 28) and Bernstein's expressive Symphony No. 1, "Jeremiah" (which he began writing at age 23), featuring mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor. Inspired by Bernstein's own Jewish heritage, the three-movement work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra is based on the story of the prophet Jeremiah, which depicts the destruction of the ancient city of Jerusalem.
On April 3-5, 2009, the BSO performs a second pairing of the music of Mahler and Bernstein: one of Bernstein's final works, Opening Prayer, and Mahler's Sixth Symphony, "Tragic." Premiered for the 1986 reopening of Carnegie Hall, Bernstein's Opening Prayer is a setting of the Hebrew text from the Biblical Book of Numbers often used as a benediction. The work was written for solo voice, and is here performed by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke. Mahler's "Tragic" Symphony is considered the composer's most personal and enigmatic work. While most of Mahler's symphonies were not well received by his contemporary critics, the Sixth was notoriously neglected and only appreciated by a wider public posthumously. Mahler conducted the sole performances of the work in his lifetime in 1906 and 1907. Today, the work is embraced by musicians as one of the most exceptional of Mahler's entire compositional output.
Additional Bernstein repertoire featured on programs this season includes the composer's Three Episodes from On the Town, which will be performed by the BSO on the Symphony with a Twist™ series under the baton of guest conductor James Gaffigan, April 23-25. Another Symphony with a Twist™ program, February 13-15, will feature tap dancer Savion Glover performing to Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs.
Success of $25 Subscription Pricing Spurs New Pricing Model at BSO
As an incentive to appeal to new audiences and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the BSO extended a landmark offer of $25 subscription seats for the 2007-2008 season. Based on the overwhelming success of the new pricing model, measured by the number of new subscribers and significantly increased attendance, the orchestra leadership has secured funding to extend a similar offer for a second year. Subscription seats throughout more than 70% of the hall will be priced at $25; a majority of premium orchestra level and box seats, or approximately one quarter of capacity, will be available for $50. Funding for the two-tiered pricing model is made possible through a generous $250,000 matching grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which will go towards supporting key audience development and accessible pricing initiatives in the upcoming season. The Mellon Foundation also recently donated $300,000 to support artistic initiatives during Maestra Alsop's inaugural season.
"Removing ticket price as a barrier has proven to be a real win-win for us and the community. Last year's $25 anniversary subscription pricing, underwritten by PNC Bank, literally reawakened the community's interest in and support of the BSO," said BSO President and CEO Paul Meecham. "The unprecedented bargain, combined with the arrival of our dynamic new Music Director, was the 'shot in the arm' that the orchestra needed. The response to $25 pricing and Marin Alsop's appealing programming was so astounding that the BSO board and management have determined that sustaining accessible ticket prices will be absolutely essential to the orchestra's success in future seasons."
Subscription sales for the 2007-2008 season outpaced the previous year by 14% and brought in approximately four times the number of new subscribers when compared to the 2006-2007 season. In total, new subscribers in 2007-2008 account for 35% of the BSO's Baltimore subscription base, compared to just 13% in the previous season. The BSO's subscription renewal rate for the current season is one of the highest in the industry, at 94%, or an 8% improvement over the previous season.
BSO Introduces Brand New Four-Concert Series, "Off the Cuff"
Capitalizing on her gift for demystifying classical music in an accessible way, Marin Alsop inaugurates a new four-concert series for Baltimore audiences in the 2008-2009 season called "Off the Cuff." With Marin Alsop playing both conductor and host, the new Saturday night series will offer 60-90 minute programs that take an in-depth look at four masterpieces of the symphonic repertoire. Each program begins with lively commentary from stage, combined with musical examples performed by the BSO, and concludes with the work performed in its entirety.
In her inimitable style, Maestra Alsop will share stories about the individual composers and their lives, and provide guidance in listening for the unique complexities and composer's voice in each work. Alsop leads three of the four performances, and the Toronto Symphony's dynamic music director Peter Oundjian leads a fourth. Personally selected by Maestra Alsop, the repertoire for the new series includes: Tchaikovsky's "Pathétique" Symphony, No. 6 (November 22); Brahms' Symphony No. 1 (January 10); Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations and Bartók's Dance Suite hosted by conductor Peter Oundjian (February 28); and Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3 (April 18.)
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Performs at Season-Opening Gala Concert
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma returns to perform as guest soloist with the BSO for its season-opening Gala Concert on Saturday, September 13, at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the Orchestra's largest fundraising benefit of the season. The special gala performance will feature the world-famous cellist performing Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations, Bernstein's Three Meditations from Mass, and more. "To me, Yo-Yo Ma truly embodies Leonard Bernstein's legacy," said Marin Alsop. "He is not only the consummate artist, he is steadfast in his mission to bridge various musical genres and develop public appreciation for all types of music. In this year of Bernstein, I think it's only fitting that he be part of our celebration." In keeping with her vision of making the BSO a central part of the community, Marin Alsop will once again incorporate performances by local dancers, singers, marching bands, and choral groups. In addition to event tickets available to BSO donors, gala concert tickets are first available to 2008-2009 subscribers for $75 and $100, and will be on sale to the general public beginning in August.
Orchestra Increases Presence at Strathmore
Next season, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra celebrates its fourth full season at its second residence, the beautiful 1,976-seat, state-of-the-art Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Md. (The BSO is the only orchestra in the country to perform year-round at venues in two metropolitan markets.) The orchestra's subscription sales at Strathmore have increased each consecutive year since the venue opened in 2005. Based on a robust 68% subscription base for the Classical Saturdays series, the Orchestra has expanded the Saturday subscription package, increasing from six to eight concerts for the 2008-2009 season.
SUBSCRIPTION SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
In addition to the celebration of the music of Leonard Bernstein and Gustav Mahler, the BSO's 2008-2009 season features classical masterpieces, two East Coast premieres and the completion of the Dvorák symphony cycle. The list of prominent guest conductors who will lead the BSO this season includes: Music Director Emeritus Yuri Temirkanov, Mario Venzago, Leonard Slatkin, Ludovic Morlot, Peter Oundjian, Juanjo Mena, Jun Märkl and Carlos Kalmar. Rising young conductors making their debuts with the BSO in 2008-2009 include French conductor Stéphane Denève, Russian Vasily Petrenko and American James Gaffigan. Star soloists joining the BSO in the upcoming season include percussionist Evelyn Glennie, violinists Hilary Hahn, Stefan Jackiw, Vadim Repin and Nikolai Znaider, and pianists Yefim Bronfman, Nelson Freire, Lukás Vondrácek and Christopher O'Riley. The BSO features three of its own Principal musicians as soloists: concertmaster Jonathan Carney, Principal Oboist Katherine Needleman and Principal Horn Philip Munds.
• Music Director Marin Alsop opens the season September 18-21 with a celestial program highlighted by Gustav Holst's evocative masterpiece, The Planets. The outer space theme-complete with special lighting and theatrical effects-includes Michael Daugherty's percussion work, UFO, performed by the incomparable British percussionist Evelyn Glennie. The program also features the finale from Wagner's opera Götterdämmerung ("Twilight of the Gods"), the dramatic final moments of the epic "Ring" cycle.
• Conductor and pianist Ignat Solzhenitsyn returns to the BSO to lead Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 11 from the piano, followed by Schubert's Symphony No. 4 in a Casual Concert on October 11.
• Superb young French conductor Ludovic Morlot returns to the Baltimore Symphony October 30-31 to lead a program featuring Danish-Israeli violinist Nikolai Znaider in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5, "Turkish." Franck's Symphony in D Minor and Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice, as made famous by Disney's film classic Fantasia, completes the program. Mr. Morlot, former assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is familiar to Baltimore audiences having filled in at the last minute for an indisposed Yuri Temirkanov in March 2006, when he led pianist Emanuel Ax and the BSO in critically acclaimed performances of Mozart and Stravinsky. A November 1 Casual Concert features the Dukas and Franck works.
• Outgoing music director of the National Symphony, Leonard Slatkin, makes his first appearance with the BSO since 1993 on November 6-8, in a program honoring Edgar Allan Poe's 200th birthday. The program introduces Slatkin's own 1971 composition, The Raven, a musical setting of Poe classics complemented by a cast of actors. The program also includes Rossini's Overture to The Thieving Magpie and Sibelius' pastoral Second Symphony.
• On November 13-16, highly regarded guest conductor Juanjo Mena returns to the BSO podium to lead Beethoven's Violin Concerto with violinist Stefan Jackiw, whom The Washington Post has praised for his "liquid tone" and "gorgeous playing." Also on the program is a rarely heard gem and BSO premiere, Beethoven's early ballet score, Ritterballet Music (Music for a Knightly Ballet ), paired with Schumann's vibrant Fourth Symphony.
• Music Director Marin Alsop conducts an all-orchestral program November 21 and 23, featuring Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and the East Coast premiere of Baltimore composer Christopher Rouse's Concerto for Orchestra. Tchaikovsky's final completed work before his death, Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique," rounds out the program.
• Acclaimed internationally for her interpretations of the complete Brahms symphonies on the Naxos label, Marin Alsop performs the First Symphony as part of a compelling program with the BSO, January 7-9. The Los Angeles Times described Alsop's recording of the First Symphony as "Brahms that flows and sings." In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King's 80th birthday, the Brahms is complemented with a stirring work by modern composer Joseph Schwantner, New Morning for the World. Special guest and former head of the NAACP, Kweisi Mfumé, joins the BSO to narrate this work which incorporates excerpts from Dr. King's vast number of legendary speeches.
• The Baltimore Symphony performs a program January 15-17, featuring the debut of two fast-rising French artists, conductor Stéphane Denève and pianist Frank Braley, who will perform Franck's Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra. The balance of the program showcases the Orchestra reveling in a collage of dance music, Ravel's La Valse, which the composer called a "choreographic poem," and Rachmaninoff's rhythmic Symphonic Dances, Rachmaninoff's final composition (written in 1940).
• A guest conductor favorite of the BSO, Carlos Kalmar returns January 22-24 to perform an eclectic program of music by two Czech composers, Bohuslav Martinu and Antonin Dvorák. BSO Principal Oboist Katherine Needleman performs the tuneful Martinu Oboe Concerto, followed by Dvorák's folk-inspired Slavonic Dances. Opening the concert is Haydn's Symphony No. 100, "Military."
• In an all-Russian program, rising young conductor Vasily Petrenko makes his debut with the BSO January 29 and 31 with two staples of the Russian repertoire, Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto with piano virtuoso Stephen Hough, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 8. The opening work on the concert is a short work by Anatoli Liadov, Kikimora, which showcases the composer's deft use of orchestral colors, in the same vein as his mentor Rimsky-Korsakov.
• Back by popular demand, tap dance sensation Savion Glover returns to perform with the BSO and Marin Alsop in three Symphony with a Twist™ performances, February 13-15. A trailblazer in the tap-dance art form, Savion Glover delivers indescribably exhilarating performances in his collaborations with orchestra. The program, featuring Glover's own choreography and inimitable improvisations, will include music by Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, John Adams and jazz composer James P. Johnson.
• Marin Alsop will conduct concerts February 19-21 featuring Saint-Saëns' mighty and colorful "Organ" Symphony, Symphony No. 3. The program also includes Mozart's Symphony No. 29 and Charles Ives' enigmatic masterpiece, The Unanswered Question.
• The charismatic and gifted Music Director of the Toronto Symphony, Peter Oundjian, steps to the podium February 26-28 leading the orchestra in Dvorák's popular and passionate cello concerto, featuring the BSO debut performance of cellist Daniel Mueller-Schott. Elgar's Enigma Variations and Bartók's dramatic and rhythmic Dance Suite, both written in the glow of newfound love, are also featured on this program.
• Left incomplete upon the composer's untimely death, Mozart's Requiem has a musical force like no other. Guest conductor Jun Märkl will lead the BSO and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in four performances of this awe-inspiring work, March 5-8. Requiem is preceded by Apollo, a graceful, infrequently performed ballet score by Stravinsky. One of his earlier collaborations with choreographer George Balanchine, Apollo harkens back to the style of Mozart and Haydn and provides a showcase for the BSO's luminous string section.
• The next installment of the BSO's Dvorák symphony cycle for the Naxos label, Symphony No. 7 in D Minor will be performed and recorded in performances March 19-22, led by Music Director Marin Alsop. Paired with the Symphony is Dvorák's Scherzo capriccioso, a lilting prelude to the substantial program that also features the debut of 21-year-old Czech pianist Lukás Vondrácek in a performance of Chopin's First Piano Concerto.
• On March 26-29, Music Director Emeritus Yuri Temirkanov makes his highly anticipated return to Baltimore in performances featuring Brahms' Violin Concerto performed by Russian violin virtuoso Vadim Repin. Temirkanov will also lead the orchestra in his signature piece, Prokofiev's epic Fifth Symphony.
• BSO Concertmaster Jonathan Carney stars as soloist with the BSO April 16-18, in a performance of Bruch's lyrical yet dramatic Violin Concerto. Under the baton of Marin Alsop, the orchestra will also perform Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn and Aaron Copland's Third Symphony, which is built on the composer's quintessential "Fanfare for the Common Man."
• Associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, 29-year-old American guest conductor James Gaffigan has earned rave reviews for his talents, prompting The Cleveland Plain-Dealer to write that his "natural musicality and clear intentions guarantee that the artistic experience is compelling." Gaffigan makes his BSO debut in a program April 23-25 featuring Ravel's Piano Concerto for Left Hand performed by pianist Christopher O'Riley. The dance-inspired concert also features Mozart's Ballet Music from Idomeneo, Bernstein's Three Dance Episodes from On the Town and selections from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. The Symphony with a Twist™ versions of this program (April 24-25) also feature Christopher O'Riley's acclaimed transcriptions of the music of rock band Radiohead.
• The effervescent personality and musicianship of conductor Mario Venzago returns to the Baltimore Symphony in concerts May 1-3. Venzago spent three years as Artistic Director of the BSO's Summer MusicFest and endeared audiences with his overflowing passion. His 2008-2009 appearance features Brazilian pianist and supreme Beethoven interpreter Nelson Freire performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. Bruckner's spiritually uplifting Third Symphony is also featured on this program.
• Conductor Andrew Grams leads an all-Mozart Casual Series concert on May 23, featuring the Horn Concerto No. 2 with BSO Principal Horn Philip Munds, Symphony No. 36, "Linz," and the Overture to his opera Don Giovanni.
• Baltimore's best known violinist, Hilary Hahn, got her start with the BSO and former music director David Zinman at only eight years old. She returns to perform with Marin Alsop on June 4-7, in a BSO co-commission and East Coast premiere of a new concerto by Philadelphia composer Jennifer Higdon. The concerto is framed by Beethoven's heroic Egmont Overture and Dvorák's Symphony No. 5, which concludes the BSO's Dvorák recording cycle for Naxos.
• Marin Alsop leads the Baltimore Symphony in its season finale June 11-14, featuring a collaboration with one of today's leading piano virtuosos, Yefim Bronfman, in Rachmaninoff's Third Concerto. Orchestral selections from Richard Wagner's epic Ring cycle, including "Ride of the Valkyries," conclude the season in stirring fashion.
Other Season Highlights
Called "the jazziest, most soulful reinterpretation of Handel's Messiah" (New York Post), Marin Alsop's Too Hot to Handel is a unique and redefining version of the grand oratorio, infused with a blend of jazz, gospel, rock and funk. In a Symphony with a Twist™ program on December 4-5, Marin Alsop conducts the return of Too Hot to Handel featuring the Morgan State University Choir. Too Hot to Handel was conceived by Marin Alsop and commissioned in 1993 by the orchestra she founded, The Concordia Orchestra. Co-arranged by Alsop's colleagues Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson, the work features a soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and full gospel choir.
The BSO, under the leadership of Marin Alsop, will honor the 80th birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in two special performances, January 7-8, 2009. Conceived as a community-wide musical celebration, the performances feature composer Joseph Schwantner's New Morning for the World, showcasing excerpts from some of Dr. King's famous speeches set to music, narrated by former NAACP President Kweisi Mfumé. Local marching bands and choral groups will join the BSO and members of Soulful Symphony for these concerts. The January 8th performance marks the BSO's first MLK Celebration at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Md.
Other special presentations include the BSO's 27th annual Handel's Messiah led by conductor Edward Polochick from the harpsichord and sung by Concert Artists of the Baltimore Symphonic Chorale, December 5. With their spirited blend of virtuosity and musical humor, the Canadian Brass returns for an evening at the Meyerhoff on March 21.
Jack Everly Programs Sensational SuperPops Season, Expands Holiday Spectacular
In his sixth season as Principal Pops Conductor, Jack Everly has programmed a show-stopping SuperPops season featuring the classic tunes of Billy Joel, high-flying acrobatics, Broadway classics and a tribute to the groovy 1970s. Due to popular demand, the Orchestra will also expand its smash hit Holiday Spectacular from 12 to 14 performances with a range of matinee and evening performances.
Conceived by Jack Everly, the BSO's Holiday Spectacular returns for a fourth year, December 12-23, 2008. Dubbed "The Miracle on Cathedral Street," next year's Holiday Spectacular features Jack Everly on the podium, host and vocalist Sandy Patti, the Holiday Spectacular Chorus and Dancers, tap-dancing Santas and the African Children's Choir, an ensemble made famous on American Idol's "Idol Gives Back" and The Tonight Show.
The SuperPops Series opens October 2-5 with a program that brings the best of Billy Joel to the Meyerhoff and Strathmore stages. With chart toppers such as "Uptown Girl" and "Piano Man," Billy Joel's distinctive style has changed the face of American music. Conducted by Jack Everly, the show will feature the talents of Michael Cavanaugh, Tony-nominated vocalist, pianist and star of the Broadway hit Movin' Out.
After highly successful debut performances in the summer of 2007, Cirque de la Symphonie returns to the BSO to collaborate with Pops conductor Jack Everly. Stunning aerial feats, strongmen, contortionists and juggling acts will perform to the music played by the BSO, February 5-8.
An incomparable interpreter of song, Patti Austin salutes the work of jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald in An Ella Fitzgerald Tribute on March 12-15. Widely considered one of the most impressive singers of the Great American Songbook, Ella Fitzgerald's musical career spanned nearly 60 years. The program will feature songs from Austin's Grammy-nominated album, For Ella, including the tribute piece, "Hearing Ella Sing."
Led by Jack Everly, the BSO SuperPops celebrates some of Broadway's greatest roles in Leading Men of Broadway, a theatrical concert production showcasing the blockbusters of the Great White Way. In four concerts May 7-10, the BSO will perform music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim and Rodgers & Hammerstein.
Jack Everly and the BSO transport audiences back to the music of the groovy '70s with Disco Days and Boogie Nights, May 28-31. The program will feature music from the disco dance moves of the Bee Gees to the hit anthems of Gloria Gaynor.
Also included on the SuperPops series is El Ritmo de la Vida ("The Rhythm of Life"), featuring American pop and jazz trumpeter Doc Severinsen and his band (November 13 at Strathmore, November 28-30 at the Meyerhoff). The concert, which is not performed by the BSO, showcases a unique combination of classical Spanish melodies, Latin ballads, and film music with a jazz flair.
Education & Family Concerts
For more than 80 years, the BSO has maintained a vibrant educational presence throughout the state of Maryland, supporting the local community not only through concerts, recordings and nationally acclaimed radio programs, but also through its commitment to education, outreach and mentorship programs. Throughout the 2008-2009 season, the BSO will present six Family Concerts, each on select Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. Featuring the BSO and guest artists, these programs use classical music, as well as dance, puppetry, and theatre, to weave enchanting stories. In addition to weekend Family Concerts, the BSO's comprehensive education program offers midweek education concerts, open rehearsals and master classes, each year reaching more than 60,000 students of all ages throughout the State of Maryland, Southeastern Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia. These education programs are made possible in part through the support of the Sylvan/Laureate Foundation, the official Education Partner of the BSO.
New this season, the BSO has added the BSO Family Fun Zone to all Saturday morning Family Concerts. Beginning at 10:00 a.m., the Meyerhoff lobby will be abuzz with several age-appropriate pre-concert activities, including Port Discovery Children's Museum's Rhythm Tree, the Maryland Zoo's ZOOmobile, an instrument petting zoo station, and face painting.
Classically Kids Series
Both of the Orchestra's principal conductors, Music Director Marin Alsop and Pops Conductor Jack Everly, will pick up the baton to conduct Classically Kids programs (for ages 7 to 12) this season, a reflection of the BSO's total institutional investment in music education and future audiences. Marin Alsop leads the Orchestra and the Morgan State University Choir on December 6, in Too Hot to Handel, a jazzy improvisation on Handel's classic oratorio, Messiah. Maestro Jack Everly will conduct Cirque de la Symphonie on February 7, featuring a stage full of stunning aerial feats, strongmen, mind-boggling contortionists and juggling acts, all performed to music by the Baltimore Symphony. On April 25, Washington D.C.'s CityDance Ensemble brings to life the classic characters of Mowgli, Baloo, and Shere Khan in Jungle Books, a colorful adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's timeless tale.
Musical Adventures Series
The Musical Adventures Series, for children ages 3 to 6, features Grammy Award winner Dan Zanes & Friends (October 4) whose energetic performances and presence on Playhouse Disney have earned him a large following around the country. Master storyteller and narrator Charlotte Blake Alston joins the BSO on March 14, for Anansi the Spider and the Moss Covered Rock with "theatriclowns" Mark Lohr and Tim Marrone. The Three Bears & Other Famous Fairytales on May 9, features dancers from Baltimore School for the Arts and classic tales "Beauty and the Beast," "The Tortoise and The Hare," and "The Three Bears" set to music and narrated by Rheda Becker.
BSO AT STRATHMORE EDUCATION
Over the course of the past year, the BSO has implemented two new educational initiatives, BSO on the Go, which brings BSO musicians into Montgomery County classrooms to teach specially designed, music-based curricula, and Strathmore Fifth Grader Concerts. In partnership with Strathmore, the BSO will perform for the first time to all 10,000 fifth-grade students in Montgomery County Public Schools at Strathmore on May 7-9, 2008.
Using music as a means to explore core subject areas such as English and science, as well as behavioral concepts such as cooperation and communication, BSO on the Go expands the BSO's educational presence in Montgomery County. Currently, the program consists of six different 45-minute workshops presented by various BSO musicians, including solo violin, oboe duo, bass and percussion duo, and trumpet and percussion duo. Designed for elementary school children, since its inception the program has reached nearly 4,000 public and private school students in more than 100 schools. The program is available throughout Montgomery County and is completely free of charge. BSO on the Go is funded through grants from local and regional foundations, and through the efforts of the BSO at Strathmore's Symphony Society Women.
BSO Continues Tradition of Building Strong Community Partnerships
As evidenced in a variety of BSO programs in the 2008-2009 season, the Orchestra continues to partner with arts organizations and performing arts programs throughout the region. Marin Alsop has invited the vocal forces of Morgan State University Choir (directed by Eric Conway) and the Peabody Children's Chorus (directed by Doreen Falby) for historic performances of Bernstein's Mass, October 16-18 in Baltimore and October 26 at The Kennedy Center. The Morgan State Choir is also featured on the Too Hot to Handel program. The Baltimore Choral Arts Society and director Tom Hall team up with the Orchestra on several programs, including the season-opening concert (September 18-21) for Holst's The Planets and Mozart's Requiem (March 5-8). Generations of Baltimore School for the Arts students have grown up working on the BSO stage and collaborating with BSO musicians in both education concerts and subscription series. In 2008-2009, Baltimore School for the Arts chorus and dancers will participate for the fourth year in Holiday Spectacular, December 12-23. As part of its Family Concert Series, the Orchestra will present Strathmore partner and Washington, D.C.-based dance company, CityDance Ensemble, in Jungle Books at the Meyerhoff on April 25. The Orchestra has also partnered with the Maryland Zoo and Port Discovery to significantly enhance the Saturday morning Family concert experience with pre-concert children's activities in the lobby.
Special Edition of Dvorák's Symphony No. 9, "New World," Releases Today
In 2007-2008, the BSO and Music Director Marin Alsop embarked on a new partnership with the Naxos label to record a three-disc series featuring Antonin Dvorák's Symphony Nos. 5 through 9 and his Symphonic Variations. The BSO is proud to release today a special edition of the first disc which includes Symphony No. 9, "From the New World" and Symphonic Variations. Recorded during live performances at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in June 2007, this recording marks the second commercial release for the BSO since Marin Alsop began as music director. Last season, after an eight-year hiatus, the BSO revived its acclaimed recording tradition with an album featuring violinist Joshua Bell performing John Corigliano's Violin Concerto, "The Red Violin," for the SONY Classical label. Between February 27 and May 29, the special edition Dvorák disc is available exclusively through the Baltimore Symphony's online store at BSOmusic.org or the Symphony Store, located at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Subscribers to the 2008-2009 season are also given the opportunity to add the Dvorák recording on to their subscription packages (information is included in the subscription brochure). The disc is available for $15 (plus shipping and handling when applicable) and includes a special edition designer slipcase.
The BSO is proud to continue its successful partnership with Soulful Symphony and Artistic Director and conductor Darin Atwater. Programming details for the 2008-2009 season will be announced at a later date.
Marin Alsop, music director
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 concert 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. Since becoming the BSO's Music Director, she has garnered national and international attention for her innovative programming and artistry. The New York Times recently said, "[Marin] Alsop has reinvigorated the orchestra, institutionally and artistically."
In summer 2005, Marin Alsop 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, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as with many distinguished orchestras worldwide including the London Philharmonic and the London Symphony. 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; and 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.
About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its uncompromising pursuit of artistic excellence, the Baltimore Symphony has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland through education and community outreach initiatives.
The BSO made musical history at the start of the 2007-2008 season when Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestra's 12th music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra. Maestra Alsop's arrival marks the dawn of a new era for the BSO, as she brings her highly praised artistic vision, her dynamic musicianship and her commitment to accessibility in classical music to BSO audiences.
About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Performing Arts Program provides grants on an invitation-only basis to leading orchestras, theater companies, opera companies, modern dance companies and dance-specific presenters based in the United States. The Foundation seeks to support institutions that contribute to the preservation and development of their art form, provide creative leadership in solving problems or addressing issues unique to the field, and which present the highest level of institutional performance. Grants are awarded on the basis of artistic merit and leadership in the field, and concentrate on achieving long-term results.