Marin Alsop Renews Contract for Five Years with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra today announced Music Director Marin Alsop will continue her commitment to the Orchestra with the signing of a five-year contract that extends from September 2010 to August 2015. Maestra Alsop, who began her acclaimed tenure as the Orchestra’s 12th music director in September 2007, has been recognized nationally and internationally for her innovative programming, multiple new recordings with the BSO and her efforts in community outreach and education, most notably the creation of OrchKids, a new after-school instrumental instruction program in West Baltimore modeled after Venezuela’s El Sistema.

Upon signing the contract, Marin Alsop commented, “My work so far with the Baltimore Symphony has been the thrill of a lifetime. Our progress over the past two seasons is the epitome of collaboration. The dedication and talent of the BSO musicians, the business oversight and support from the board, the vision and unbridled energy from our management and staff, and the community’s enthusiasm and imagination for music—it has taken all of these ingredients to bring the BSO to this level of music-making. I cannot imagine leading a more exciting and progressive orchestra.”

BSO Board chairman Michael Bronfein commented, “The board is absolutely delighted that Marin has renewed her contract with the BSO through 2015. My fellow board members and I have been impressed and moved by her tremendous leadership as an artist and as a humanitarian. In the time she’s been here, Marin has done more than just revitalize the organization and deliver unforgettable performances; she has renewed the Orchestra’s purpose, challenging us to deepen the long-term impact we as an Orchestra have in the communities we serve by making music more accessible and relevant to everyone’s life.”

“Marin Alsop is a leader at every level of the organization.From the moment she assumed the music directorship, you couldn’t help but feel her energy, her spirit and passion for the music. She exudes innovation with every project she undertakes, be it on stage or off. She is that rare music director who generously gives as much to the improvement of the community and quality of life of our audiences as she gives to the music on stage.” - BSO President & CEO Paul Meecham

Community Relevance
In May 2008, under Music Director Marin Alsop’s direction and in cooperation with the Baltimore City Public Schools, the BSO announced the launch of a major education initiative, OrchKids, an after-school music program designed to effect social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City’s low-income neighborhoods. OrchKids, inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, is a cornerstone of the BSO’s vision to expand the Orchestra’s relevance within the city’s broad and diverse community. To effectively implement OrchKids and to create a network of community support, the BSO undertook the program in partnership with several key local organizations, including the Baltimore City Public School System, The Peabody Institute, Arts Everyday, Baltimore School for the Arts and The Family League. At the time the program launched, Marin Alsop committed $100,000 of her own money, structured as a four-to-one matching gift, intended to motivate and inspire others in the community to provide additional support to sustain the OrchKids program through the critical first few years of implementation and growth.

The BSO, under Marin Alsop’s leadership, has become a catalyst for bringing together diverse organizations that work together to strengthen the arts in Maryland. Each partnership plays a vital role in the advancement of arts and education programming—for the BSO and for other community organizations. In January 2007, the BSO partnered with Peabody Institute to perform Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which featured members of the Peabody Symphony Orchestra performing alongside the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Hailed by The Washington Post as “thunderous, full-throttle, rip-roaring performance,” the BSO released this live-concert recording into downloadable distribution in April 2007 on iTunes, which quickly became the number-one classical music download.

Mentorship
Marin Alsop is dedicated to developing and championing young and emerging conductors. Beginning in the 2007-2008 season, the BSO with Music Director Marin Alsop and the Peabody Institute with esteemed faculty member and conductor Gustav Meier, in partnership with the American Symphony Orchestra League, launched the Conducting Fellows Program, a unique two-year program designed to provide exceptionally talented conductors in the early stages of their careers an opportunity to hone their skills before assuming a role with a professional orchestra. This marked the first partnership of its kind in the country between a conservatory and a symphony orchestra. Joseph F. Young of South Carolina was the first recipient of the BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellowship. Beginning in the 2009-2010 season, Ilyich Rivas, 16, a talented young Venezuelan-born conductor will assume the role as the second recipient of the BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellowship. Maestra Alsop also frequently gives of her time to conduct masterclasses for conductors at Peabody Institute, in partnership with Gustav Meier.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra welcomed Mei-Ann Chen to the BSO conductor roster in the 2009-2010 season as assistant conductor and League of American Orchestras Conducting Fellow. Ms. Chen’s most recent engagement was as assistant conductor of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Robert Spano. This young conductor received the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship (TCCF) in 2007. Founded by Marin Alsop in 2002, the TCCF is a unique opportunity for young women conductors to immerse themselves in the art and business of performing classical music under the leadership of Marin Alsop.

Recordings
The BSO has experienced a resurgence of recording activity under Maestra Alsop’s leadership. The BSO, under the direction of Music Director Marin Alsop recorded Dvořák's Symphony No. 9, "From the New World" and Symphonic Variations on the Naxos label in February 2008. BBC Music Magazine nominated the album as the best new classical CD of the year, praising, "…there's no sentimentalising or excessive deference to the lyrical moments to rob the work of its essential freshness… It is rare to be able to say that a performance forces one to listen to a work anew, but this is exactly what Alsop's reading achieves. Excellently recorded… this is a superb issue all around."

In June 2006, the BSO collaborated with then-Music Director Designate Marin Alsop and legendary violinist Joshua Bell to record John Corigliano's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, "The Red Violin." Based on the Academy Award-winning score for the film The Red Violin, the concerto is the completion of a dramatic piece requiring technical virtuosity and deep expressiveness. Since its world premiere with the Orchestra in September 2003, this BSO co-commission has earned the distinction of being the most performed concerto composed in the last quarter century. It was the BSO's first major label recording project in eight years and was released on the Sony/BMG Classical label in September 2007.

A highlight of the 2008-2009 season, the BSO recorded Leonard Bernstein’s Mass in October 2008 and plans to release the work on the Naxos label in August 2009.

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