Music Director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
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. Her tenure as the BSO's music director has garnered national and international attention for her innovative programming and artistry. Musical America, who named Maestra Alsop the 2009 Conductor of the Year, recently said, "[Marin Alsop] connects to the public as few conductors today can."
In 2005, Marin Alsop was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first and only conductor ever to receive this most prestigious American award. In the same year, Alsop won the Classical Brit Award for Best Female Artist. She was also the first artist to win Gramophone's "Artist of the Year" award and the Royal Philharmonic Society's Conductor's Award in the same year (2003). When she was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society's BBC Radio 3 Listeners Award in 2006, Radio 3 voters called her "a breath of fresh air in the music world," "a fantastic, charismatic conductor" and praised her "boundless enthusiasm." In 2007, she was honored with a European Women of Achievement Award, presented to individuals whose vision, courage and determination have made a major impact on increasing the influence of women on European affairs. In 2008, Marin Alsop was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 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 Symphony Orchestra, effective in 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.
Marin Alsop makes regular guest conducting appearances with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She frequently conducts abroad at such venues as Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Zurich Tonhalle, Orchestre de Paris, Munich Philharmonic and La Scala Milan, and she is one of the few conductors to perform every season with both the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. She served as artistic director of London's Southbank Centre's The Bernstein Project, which ran from September 2009 to July 2010 and featured a range of musical selections from Mozart with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment to Bernstein's own Mass, featuring musicians from the National Youth Orchestra and a huge cast of performers drawn from the local community.
In September 2006, she led the American premiere of Nicholas Maw's opera, Sophie's Choice, at the Washington National Opera. She made her opera-conducting debut in 2004 with the Opera Theater of St. Louis conducting John Adams's Nixon in China. Also in 2004, she conducted a fully staged production of Bernstein's Candide with the New York Philharmonic, a production that was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2005.
Maestra Alsop continues her association as conductor laureate of the Colorado Symphony following her highly successful 12-year tenure as music director; she also continues in her 19th season as music director of the acclaimed Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California. In addition, she has held the position of principal guest conductor with both the City of London Sinfonia and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with whom she made numerous critically acclaimed recordings.
In 2008, Marin Alsop led the BSO and nearly 250 performers in performances of Leonard Bernstein's Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers at Baltimore's Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. She also led Mass 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 where approximately 500 New York City public school children sang in the chorus of Mass alongside the BSO. The work was recorded on the Naxos label and nominated for a 2009 Grammy Award in the Best Classical Album category.
Marin Alsop has led Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in several key outreach initiatives. In 2008, she partnered with the BSO to launch OrchKids, a music education and life enrichment program for youth in West Baltimore. In 2010, she conducted the first "Rusty Musicians with the BSO" - an event that gave local orchestral players the chance to perform onstage with a professional symphony orchestra and quickly became a popular component of the BSO's efforts to connect with the community. In June 2010, Maestra Alsop conducted the inaugural BSO Academy - an immersive summer music program that gives approximately 100 amateur adult musicians the opportunity to perform alongside a top professional orchestra.
One of Maestra Alsop's first projects as music director of the BSO was a Dvořák symphonic cycle, recorded on the Naxos label. The first disk in the series, featuring Symphony No. 9, "From the New World," and Symphonic Variations, was released in February 2008. Of this release, BBC Music Magazine said, "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." The disk was also nominated for BBC Music Magazine's 2008 Album of the Year. Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8 were released in June 2010. In May 2011, a recording of Mahler's First Symphony with the BSO led by Maestra Alsop will be released on the Naxos label.
In June 2006, during her tenure as music director designate of the BSO, she led the Orchestra and violinist Joshua Bell in John Corigliano's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, "The Red Violin," recorded by Sony Classics and released in September 2007. Also in her designate term, she conducted the Orchestra in Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, an acclaimed performance that became the Orchestra's first-ever live-recording release on iTunes and quickly became the number one classical download. Other highlights of Maestra Alsop's acclaimed recording collaboration with Naxos include a Brahms symphony cycle with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and an ongoing series of Bournemouth Symphony recordings, which include Bartók's Miraculous Mandarin, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and the symphonies of Kurt Weill. In addition to her orchestral recordings, she can also be heard regularly as a commentator on NPR's Weekend Edition program "Marin on Music" and on BBC's Radio 3.
In 2006, she was the only classical musician invited to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, alongside presidents, prime ministers and CEOs of the world's most powerful companies. She has been profiled in Time and Newsweek, appeared on NBC's "Today Show" and was featured as ABC News' "Person of the Week" in 2005.
A native of New York City, Marin Alsop attended Yale University and received her master's degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she was a prizewinner at the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition in New York, and in the same year was awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at the Tanglewood Music Center.
-- From the website of the Baltimore Symphony
This interview was recorded backstage at the Ravinia Festival
in Highland Park, IL, on June 19, 2003. Portions were used (with
recordings) on WNUR two days later. The
transcription was made and posted on this
website in 2012.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.