Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Dissect Brahms’ First Symphony in Off the Cuff, Saturday, January 10
Friday’s expanded program features Kweisi Mfume narrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speeches in Schwantner’s New Morning for the World
Baltimore, Md. (December 1, 2008) — On the heels of the successful debut of her series Off the Cuff, Music Director Marin Alsop will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in its second program on Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 7 p.m. featuring Brahms’ First Symphony. Capitalizing on her gift for demystifying classical music in an accessible way, Maestra Alsop will play the roles of conductor and host as she shares stories about Brahms and provide guidance in listening for the unique complexities and the composer’s voice in his First Symphony. The program begins with lively commentary from stage, combined with musical examples performed by the BSO and concludes with the work performed in its entirety. Editor’s note: “Off the Cuff” concerts start an hour earlier than most BSO performances. The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. and ends before 8:30 p.m. See below for complete program information.
Brahms spent more than 20 years composing his First Symphony. With Beethoven’s legacy looming over his head, Brahms was afraid that his symphony would pale in comparison. Though Brahms’ First Symphony was at times called “Beethoven’s Tenth,” it stands on its own as a singularly awe-inspiring piece. This four movement symphony broke new ground for the symphonic form: his second and third movements are soft intermezzos, featuring solo violin, oboe and horn, thus going against the grain of Beethoven’s full-bodied symphonies from start to finish. However, Brahms could not resist inserting two nods to Beethoven: he sampled the brass fanfare theme from Beethoven’s Fifth and the “Ode to Joy” melody from the Ninth.
On Friday, January 9 at 8:00 p.m. Marin Alsop will lead the BSO in an expanded program of Brahms' First Symphony including Joseph Schwantner’s New Morning for the World and Tchaikovsky’s Hamlet Overture. Schwantner’s New Morning for the World is a symphonic tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and features text from his most famous speeches. In this program, former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume will narrate this piece. Tchaikovsky’s Hamlet Overture recreates the dramatic scenes in Hamlet through an eerie sonata in F minor.
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 the Bournemouth Symphony in the United Kingdom, where she served as the principal conductor from 2002-2008 and is music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California
In 2005, Ms. Alsop 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, in 2008 she was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2009 Musical America named her “Conductor of the Year.”
A regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ms. Alsop appears frequently as a guest conductor with the most distinguished orchestras around the world. In addition to her performance activities, she is also an active recording artist with award-winning cycles of Brahms and Barber orchestral works. She is currently recording the Dvorak symphonies with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Marin Alsop attended Yale University and received her master’s degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she won the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition in New York.
Kweisi Mfume, narrator
Kweisi Mfume was born, raised and educated in Baltimore. Forced to drop out of school at the age of 16 after the death of his mother, he took on odd jobs to help provide for the upkeep of his three younger sisters. He later attended Morgan State University, graduating magna cum laude and earned his master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. Mfume has held positions on the Baltimore City Council (1979-1986) and the House of Representatives (1986-1996). He was elected president and CEO of the NAACP in 1996. During that time he significantly raised the national profile of the NAACP while helping to restore its prominence among the nation’s civil rights organizations. He currently serves on the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees, the Morgan State University Board of Regents, the African American Advisory Board of PepsiCo and the National Advisory Council of Boy Scouts of America.
For nine years he hosted the award-winning television show, "The Bottom Line,” and for five years he hosted the nationally syndicated NBC-Hearst TV special “The Remarkable Journey.” He is the recipient of the 2005 Telly Award for best independent TV documentary. He has made appearances as a guest commentator on the ABC “This Week Program” and currently writes a national column on current events for BlackAmericaWeb.com. He is the recipient of ten honorary doctorate degrees and hundreds of other awards, proclamations and citations. His former best selling autobiography is entitled No Free Ride.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Brahms’ Symphony No. 1
Friday, January 9, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. —JMSH
Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. —JMSH*
Marin Alsop, conductor
Kweisi Mfume, narrator
Tchaikovsky: Hamlet Overture
Joseph Schwantner: New Morning for the World
Brahms: Symphony No. 1
*Saturday’s “Off the Cuff” program features only Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 without intermission.
Tickets for these concerts range from $25 to $60, and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444 or 410.783.8000 orwww.BSOmusic.org .