Marin Alsop Leads BSO in Tchaikovksy's Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique" and the World Premiere of James Lee III's Chuphshah!, Sept. 23-25
Alisa Weilerstein performs Dvořák's Cello Concerto
Baltimore, Md. (August 16, 2011) - Music Director Marin Alsop will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovksy's Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique" and the world premiere of composer James Lee III's Chupshah! Harriet's Drive to Canaan (BSO commission) on Friday, September 23 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, September 25 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, September 24 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein will perform Dvořák's dynamic Cello Concerto in her debut performance with the BSO. Please see below for complete program details.
The BSO's 2011-2012 season celebrates the accomplishments of revolutionary women throughout history. One such revolutionary woman was Harriet Tubman, the director of the Underground Railroad, who originally hailed from Maryland. To honor her bravery, the BSO commissioned Chupshah! Harriet's Drive to Canaan, by Morgan State University music faculty member James Lee III. The work is titled with the Hebrew word for "freedom" and captures Tubman's yearning for emancipation and her efforts to lead African-American slaves to freedom. The work makes use of Negro spirituals to chronicle her heroic acts. Composer James Lee III remarks, "I want to compose music to reach the inner soul of the listener that elevates them regardless of race and religious affiliation."
At just 29, Alisa Weilerstein debuts with the BSO and demonstrates why she is already considered one of America's leading female cellists. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, she described Dvořák's Cello Concerto, "The Dvořák is the ultimate concerto. It has all the structuring and epic sweep of a symphony. It goes from ecstasy to tragedy to pathos. And every time out, there's something new to discover." Given this high praise, it may come as a surprise that the composer was originally reluctant to compose a concerto for the cello because he doubted the instrument's ability to project over an orchestra. Thankfully, he ignored his reservations and created one of the finest cello concertos ever written, which is now one of his most recognized works.
The concert will end with Tchaikovsky's passionate, riveting symphonic essay, "Pathétique," a foreshadowing of his own death that occurred just nine days after his second symphony debuted in 1893. The title of "Pathétique" does not carry the same meaning as the English word "pathetic." On the contrary, the name of the symphony means "passionate" or "emotional," which suitably describes the tormented last years of Tchaikovsky's life.
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." In November 2010, she was inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame. In February 2011, Marin Alsop was named the music director of the Orquestra Sinfônica do estado de São Paulo (OSESP), or the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, effective for the 2012-13 season. Ms. Alsop was named to Guardian's Top 100 Women list in March 2011. This spring Marin Alsop was named an Artist in Residence at the Southbank Centre in London, England.
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, Barber and Dvořák.
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 Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at Tanglewood where she studied with Leonard Bernstein.
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
American cellist Alisa Weilerstein has attracted widespread attention for playing that combines a natural virtuosic command and technical precision with impassioned musicianship. The intensity of her playing has regularly been lauded, as has the spontaneity and sensitivity of her interpretations. Following her Zankel Hall recital debut in 2008, Justin Davidson of New York Magazine said: "Whatever she plays sounds custom-composed for her, as if she has a natural affinity with everything."
A major highlight of Ms. Weilerstein's 2009-10 season was performing Elgar's Cello Concerto with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Daniel Barenboim in Oxford, England for the orchestra's 2010 European Concert. This concert was televised live worldwide, broadcast on the BBC and will be released on DVD. This performance, which followed her Berliner Philharmoniker debut with Mr. Barenboim days earlier, was described by Tom Service of The Guardian as "…the most technically complete and emotionally devastating performance of Elgar's Cello Concerto that I have ever heard live…". Ms. Weilerstein also performed this concerto in August at her Edinburgh International Festival debut with the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä.
In November 2008 Ms. Weilerstein, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was nine, was made a Celebrity Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She meets with members of the local chapters of JDRF when she tours with the aim of demonstrating to young people that living with and managing diabetes does not stop you from doing anything you want to do. For more information on Ms. Weilerstein, please visit www.alisaweilerstein.com.
Tchaikovsky and Dvořák
Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8 p.m.—JMSH
Saturday, September 24, 2011 at 8 p.m.—Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 3 p.m.—JMSH
Marin Alsop, conductor
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
James Lee III: Chuphshah! ("Freedom") ‡
(BSO Commission & World Premiere)
Dvořák: Cello Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique"
At just 29, Alisa Weilerstein demonstrates why she is already considered America's most dynamic female cellist in Dvořák's Cello Concerto. It precedes Tchaikovsky's passionate, gripping symphonic essay, the "Pathétique," a last gasp foreshadowing his own death just days later. Baltimore-based James Lee III's Chuphshah! Harriet's Drive to Canaan depicts Harriet Tubman's yearning for emancipation, drawing on Negro spirituals to express her journey from slavery to freedom.