Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop Open 2008-2009 Season with Holst's The Planets, September 18-21
Evelyn Glennie to perform Daugherty's percussion work UFO
Baltimore, Md. (September 3, 2008)-Led by music director Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will open its 2008-2009 season with Holst's orchestral showpiece The Planets, September 18, 19 and 21 at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and September 20 at the Music Center at Strathmore. The program includes additional other-worldly works: Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene from Wagner's epic Götterdämmerung and contemporary American composer Michael Daugherty's UFO, featuring internationally renowned percussionist Evelyn Glennie. See below for complete program information.
Among the most popular works in the 20th century repertoire, Holst's The Planets is a collection of seven tone poems describing the moods of the Roman gods for whom the planets are named (Earth is omitted, while Pluto was only discovered in 1930). Written between 1914 and 1916, The Planets features rich and extreme orchestrations, ranging from the explosive opening movement, "Mars, Bringer of War," to the ethereal, hushed final movement, "Neptune, the Mystic." "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" is the best-known movement, drawing on vaudeville tunes and dancehall tunes; its central melody was later set to text and is well known as the English hymn "I Vow to Thee, My Country." Previously an unknown to the public, Holst was vaulted to fame with The Planets.
A unique voice in contemporary classical music, American composer Michael Daugherty draws much of his inspiration from pop culture and its icons. In his 1999 percussion concerto, UFO, Daugherty draws on the American fascination with "unidentified flying objects." In the composer's words, in UFO, "the soloist is introduced as an alien, arriving unexpectedly and playing mysterious percussion instruments. During the three major sections of the composition-'Unidentified,' 'Flying' and 'Objects'-the soloist travels to different percussion stations on the stage." Employing percussion instruments as unusual as a waterphone and spring, Dame Evelyn Glennie, for whom Daugherty composed the work, performs with the BSO on this program.
The program opens with the orchestral accompaniment to Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung ("Twilight of the Gods"), the final installment of Wagner's epic Ring cycle. In the scene, the climax of the work and of the cycle itself, Brünnhilde orders the fallen hero, Siegfried, be thrown on a funeral pyre. With the cursed gold ring in hand, she mounts her horse and jumps on the fire herself, thus returning the ring to the Rhine maidens, and signaling the fall of the gods of Valhalla and the salvation of mortals.
Marin Alsop, conductor
Hailed as one of the world's leading conductors for her 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. She also holds the title of Conductor Emeritus at Bournemouth Symphony in the United Kingdom, where she served as the Principal Conductor from 2002-2008.
In 2005, Maestra was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first conductor ever to receive this prestigious award. In 2007, she was honored with a European Women of Achievement Award and in 2008 she was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Maestra Alsop is a regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. She also appears frequently as a guest conductor 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 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California.
Marin Alsop attended Yale University and received her master's degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she became a prize winner at the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition in New York and was awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at the Tanglewood Music Center in the same year.
Evelyn Glennie, percussion
As one of the most eclectic and innovative musicians on the scene today, Evelyn Glennie is constantly redefining the goals and expectations of percussion and creating performances of such vitality that they almost constitute a new type of performance.
Ms. Glennie gives more than 100 performances a year worldwide, performing with the greatest conductors, orchestras and artists. Her diversity of collaborations has included performance artists such as Nana Vasoncelos, Kodo, Bela Fleck, Björk, Bobby McFerrin, Sting, Emanuel Ax, The King's Singers, Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Fred Frith.
Ms. Glennie has commissioned 150 new works for solo percussion and also composes and records music for film and television. She received a Grammy Award (1988, Bartók's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion), two additional Grammy nominations and a nomination for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, the U.K. equivalent of the Oscars. In 1993 she was awarded the OBE (Officer of the British Empire). This was extended in 2007 to "Dame Commander" for her services to music. To date, she has received more than 80 awards internationally.
Ms. Glennie has appeared on several television shows including The David Letterman Show, Sesame Street, 60 minutes and PBS Profile. She is also a motivational speaker to many diverse corporations and events. Her life and work are detailed in her best-selling autobiography Good Vibrations and Thomas Riedelsheimer's film Touch the Sound.
Baltimore Choral Arts Society-Tom Hall, music director
Now in its 42nd season, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society (BCAS) is one of Maryland's premier cultural institutions, with Tom Hall serving as music director since 1982. The Symphonic Chorus, Full Chorus, Chamber Chorus and Orchestra perform throughout the mid-Atlantic region, as well as in Washington, D.C., New York and Europe. BCAS programs feature both choral and orchestral music, stage and theater works, dancers, poets, narrators and other artists from a variety of disciplines.
WMAR-TV, the ABC network affiliate in Maryland, features BCAS in an annual hour-long special, Christmas with Choral Arts, broadcast twice each season and winning an Emmy Award in 2006. On local radio, Mr. Hall is arts and culture contributor for WYPR's Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast and is the host of Choral Arts Classics, a monthly program features BCAS. BCAS concerts are also broadcast on WBJC radio and have four recordings in current release.
BCAS has commissioned and premiered several works by American composers, including Peter Schickele's Blake's Proverbs and Libby Larsen's Billy the Kid, commissioned jointly with the King's Singers and the City of Birmingham (England) Chorus. BCAS have also given world premieres and first local performances of works by Morten Lauridsen, Kirke Mechem, Janika Vanderwelde, Samuel Adler, Daniel Pinkham, Robert Sirota and William Mathias.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Holst's The Planets
Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. -Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Friday, September 19, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. -JMSH**
Saturday, September 20, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. -The Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. -JMSH
Marin Alsop, conductor
Evelyn Glennie, percussion
Women of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society
Tom Hall, director
Wagner: Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung
Michael Daugherty: UFO ‡
Holst: The Planets
** Classics in Conversation is a free pre-concert lecture at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The program begins at 7:00 p.m. and is free to ticket holders.
‡ Denotes a BSO premiere
Tickets range from $25 to $80 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000, 877.BSO.1444 or BSOmusic.org.