Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass Nominated for Grammy Award
Mass producer Steven Epstein also nominated in separate category
Baltimore, Md. (December 3, 2009) – The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers, conducted by BSO Music Director Marin Alsop, has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of “Best Classical Album of the Year.” Released on the Naxos label on August 25, 2009, this two-disc set was only the fourth audio recording ever produced of Mass. Mass received a second nomination in the category of “Producer of the Year, Classical” for Steven Epstein, who produced the Mass album. Marin Alsop is also the conductor on the recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto with the London Philharmonic which received a separate nomination in the category of “Best Classical Contemporary Composition.” Winners will be announced at The Grammy Awards event in Los Angeles scheduled for Sunday, January 31, 2010.
In recent years, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra resumed its illustrious recording history under Music Director Marin Alsop. In June 2006, the BSO collaborated with then-Music Director Designate Marin Alsop and violinist Joshua Bell to record John Corigliano's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, "The Red Violin" released on the Sony/BMG Classical label in September 2007. The BSO and Maestra Alsop have also partnered with the Naxos label to record a three-disc Dvorák symphony cycle. The first disc, which includes Symphony No. 9, "From the New World" and Symphonic Variations, was released in February 2008; subsequent discs will feature symphonies Nos. 6-8. Most recently, the BSO recorded works by George Gershwin with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet that will be released on the Decca label in Spring 2010.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has won and been nominated for several Grammy Awards over its more than 20-year recording history. The BSO won its first Grammy Award in 1987 for a Sony Classical recording of cello concertos by Barber and Britten with soloist Yo-Yo Ma under the direction of then-Music Director David Zinman. The BSO's release of The New York Album, recorded under the direction of David Zinman and again featuring Yo-Yo Ma, won two Grammy Awards in 1994. The BSO's extensive discography also includes three recordings released in 1997: a London recording featuring symphonic dance works of Leonard Bernstein; an Erato Disques recording of the piano concertos of George Gershwin and Maurice Ravel, featuring pianist Hélène Grimaud; and a Grammy-nominated London recording of violin concertos by Samuel Barber and William Walton with violinist Joshua Bell. The Orchestra’s last Grammy nomination was in 1999 for its recording of Bernstein's Serenade and Beethoven's Violin Concerto with Baltimore-born violin phenomenon Hilary Hahn as soloist, conducted by David Zinman.
About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Mass
The BSO, led by Bernstein protégée Music Director Marin Alsop, performed critically acclaimed, sold-out concerts of the Grammy-nominated work on October 16-18, 2008 at Baltimore’s Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and on October 26, 2008 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. In addition to the Baltimore and Washington events, the BSO also performed Mass on October 24, 2008 at New York City’s Carnegie Hall as a highlight of its citywide festival, Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds, and as part of The Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall’s Bernstein Mass Project, at the United Palace Theater in Upper Manhattan on October 25, 2008 where approximately 500 New York City public school children sang in the chorus of Mass alongside the BSO. These performances and the associated studio recording featured nearly 250 performers, including baritone Jubilant Sykes as the Celebrant, the Morgan State University Chorus, the Peabody Children’s Chorus and a stellar Broadway cast of 20 performing as the “street people.” The semi-staged production included costuming and musical movement with direction by award-winning stage director Kevin Newbury.
The BSO performances earned praise from Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times, “Some pieces that seem trendy at their birth soon fade away. But the essence and achievement of Bernstein’s Mass have become clearer over time…how [Bernstein] would have loved seeing his Mass touch so many people…” Tim Smith from The Baltimore Sun agreed, “The BSO sounded vibrant, the Morgan State choristers delivered richly and the well-chosen cast, headed by Jubilant Sykes as the Celebrant, came through with often electrifying intensity in this imaginatively staged presentation…The music shone through with consistent emotional power. I think Bernstein would have loved it all.” In addition, the performances of Bernstein’s Mass were numbered among the top 5 musical experiences of the year by The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
About Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
The Grammy Award-winning 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 the Maryland community through innovative education and community outreach initiatives.
The BSO made musical history in 2005 when it announced the appointment of Marin Alsop as its 12th music director, making her the first woman to lead a major American orchestra. Maestra Alsop’s inaugural concerts in September 2007 marked 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 throughout Maryland.
The BSO is actively involved in recording, broadcasting and podcasting projects which make the BSO’s music available to audiences around the globe. It has received critical acclaim for its prolific discography, which features renowned artists such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Hélène Grimaud, and violinists Joshua Bell and Hilary Hahn.
In addition to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where the orchestra has performed for 27 years, the BSO is a founding partner and the resident orchestra at the Music Center at Strathmore, just outside Washington, D.C. With the opening of Strathmore in February 2005, the BSO became the nation’s only major orchestra with year-round venues in two metropolitan areas.