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Jan 6 & 7: Marin Alsop Returns to Chicago Symphony for Premieres of Works by Julia Wolfe & Jessie Montgomery

Marin Alsop (photo: Nancy Horowitz)

(November 2022)—As Chief Conductor of the Ravinia Festival, MacArthur fellow Marin Alsop enjoys an exceptionally close rapport with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), where she is “a powerful and communicative force on the podium” (Chicago Classical Review). Early next year, on January 6 and 7, she returns to lead the CSO in a program of important new works by three of the 21st century’s foremost female composers, comprising the Chicago premiere of Her Story (2022), a CSO co-commission from Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Wolfe; This Midnight Hour (2015) by Grammy nominee and former CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Anna Clyne; and the Chicago premiere of Rounds (2022) by Musical America’s 2023 Composer of the Year and current CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery. Offering the rare opportunity to hear the music of Wolfe, Clyne and Montgomery led by a female artist, Alsop’s concerts bring together four of the most compelling women in classical music today.

Alsop has enjoyed a close association with the Chicago Symphony for many years, regularly conducting the orchestra both at Ravinia and at its Symphony Center home. Her leadership of the CSO “showcases superlative music authority,” notes John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. Of a program featuring Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony, which he described as “an area of the 19th-century orchestral repertory in which Alsop particularly excels,” the critic declared:

“The energy and assurance with which she steered the CSO musicians through a cannily devised program said a great deal about why she ranks as one of America’s most important conductors … and why she is so respected in Europe and South America as well. … The orchestra gave of its considerable best to Alsop.”

This past summer, Alsop conducted the CSO in five programs at Ravinia. At their opening night concert of Romantic favorites by Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky, she “delivered satisfyingly in verve, coloration and balance” (Chicago Tribune). Similarly, after a subsequent program of Bernstein and Osvaldo Golijov, Chicago’s WTTW TV reported:

“Performed to breathtaking effect … the concert was superbly led by Marin Alsop. … Throughout the evening’s two fiendishly difficult works, Alsop (who was mentored by Bernstein) oversaw an impeccable, wonderfully dramatic rendering of the music of both grandly theatrical composers.”

When she returns to the orchestra in the new year, Alsop devotes the second half of her program to the Chicago premiere of Her Story (2022), a CSO co-commission from fellow MacArthur “genius grant” recipient Julia Wolfe. A 40-minute, two movement theatrical experience featuring the all-female vocalists of the Lorelei Ensemble, Her Story honors the struggle for women’s equality before, during and since the suffrage movement. It shares the program with This Midnight Hour (2015) by Anna Clyne, of whose Masquerade Alsop led a “terrific [world premiere] performance” (Gramophone) at London’s “Last Night of the Proms,” and the Chicago premiere of Rounds (2022) for piano and strings by Jessie Montgomery, with its dedicatee, pianist Awadagin Pratt. Montgomery considers Alsop “an incredible supporter” of her work (Financial Times), and the conductor also looks forward to ringing in the New Year with the Minnesota premiere of Rounds, for which she and Pratt will be joined by the Minnesota Orchestra (Dec 31 & Jan 1).

New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra & more next spring

After her performances in Chicago, Alsop returns to Vienna and the London Symphony Orchestra, where she leads works by Beethoven and Rachmaninoff, before returning to the States next spring for collaborations with the Baltimore Symphony (Feb 17–19; April 13–15), Dallas Symphony (Feb 23–25), Cincinnati Symphony (May 20), Seattle Symphony (June 15 & 17) and New York Philharmonic, where she conducts Chick Corea’s Trombone Concerto, his final finished work, with its dedicatee, New York Philharmonic principal trombone Joseph Alessi, as soloist. She and the orchestra complete their program with the Suite from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and Barber’s First Symphony (May 25–27). A longtime champion and leading exponent of the American composer’s work, Alsop’s iconic recording of his symphony is widely considered “a must-have” (San Francisco Classical Voice). As Gramophone writes:

“In its unhurried authority, big heart and epic thrust, it’s the kind of interpretation one could have imagined from Bernstein himself in his NYPO heyday. … She is a musician of outstanding gifts.”

Recent successes in London and New York

In September, just three months after making her acclaimed debut with the orchestra, Alsop rejoined the Philharmonia for a program of Haydn and Richard Strauss at London’s Royal Festival Hall. This prompted The Times to marvel:

“How refreshing to see a conductor and soloist full of joy. … With Marin Alsop and the cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the warmth felt utterly genuine … and Alsop whipped up the excitement right to the end.”

Next, as Conductor of Honour of Brazil’s São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP), Alsop helmed the ensemble’s Carnegie Hall debut to celebrate 200 years of Brazilian independence. As the New York Classical Review reported, their Villa-Lobos “delivered on all expectations,” concluding with an account of the composer’s Chôros No. 10that brought down the house.” Indeed, Musical America affirmed, “It’s hard to imagine hearing better.”

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Marin Alsop: upcoming engagements

Nov 17-19
Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Orchestra
BRAHMS: Tragic Overture
Missy MAZZOLI: Violin Concerto (“Procession”; with Jennifer Koh, violin)
HOLST: The Planets

Dec 4
Vienna, Austria
Vienna Musikverein
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
BARBER: Symphony No.1
ROUSE: Flute Concerto (with Emmanuel Pahud, flute)
Joan TOWER: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman
John ADAMS: Fearful Symmetries

Dec 8
Vienna, Austria
Vienna Musikverein
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
BACEWICZ: Music for Strings, Trumpet and Percussion
PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto No. 1 (with Maxim Vengerov, violin)
BERNSTEIN: Symphony No. 1, “Jeremiah” (with Rinat Shaham, mezzo-soprano)

Dec 15, 17 & 21: tour of South Africa with Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (debut)
   Dec 15: Johannesburg (Wits Linder Auditorium)
   Dec 17: Durban (The Playhouse)
   Dec 21: Cape Town (Cape Town City Hall)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9, “Choral”

Dec 31; Jan 1
Minneapolis, MN
Minnesota Orchestra
BERNSTEIN: Candide Overture
Jessie MONTGOMERY: Rounds for Piano and Orchestra (Minnesota premiere; with Awadagin Pratt, piano)

Jan 6 & 7
Chicago, IL
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Anna CLYNE: This Midnight Hour
Jessie MONTGOMERY: Rounds for Piano and Orchestra (Chicago premiere; with Awadagin Pratt, piano)
Julia WOLFE: Her Story (Chicago premiere of CSO co-commission)

Jan 28
Vienna, Austria
Vienna Concert House
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
IVES: The Unanswered Question
LIGETI: Piano Concerto
IVES: Symphony No. 2
LIGETI: Mysteries of the Macabre

Feb 8 & 9
London, England
London Symphony Orchestra
WEILL: Lady in the Dark: Symphonic Nocturne
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4
RACHMANINOFF: Symphonic Dances

Feb 17–19
Baltimore, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Huang RUO: Tipping Point (world premiere of Baltimore Symphony commission)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 1, “Titan”

Feb 23–25
Dallas, TX
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Gabriela ORTIZ: Antrópolis
Gabriela MONTERO: Piano Concerto No. 1, “Latin” (with Gabriela Montero, piano)

March 20
Paris, France
Paris Philharmonie
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Judit VARGA: Around a Roundabout (2021; French premiere; world premiere for large orchestra)
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 24 (with Gabriela Montero, piano)
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 7

March 23
Vienna, Austria
Grosser Saal
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Tanja Elisa GLINSNER: BlurRed for Orchestra
HENZE: Tristan – Preludes for Piano, Tape and Orchestra (with Igor Levit, piano)
BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra

April 13–15
Baltimore, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
TCHAIKOVSKY: Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture
ROUSE: Symphony No. 6
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 3 (with Olga Kern, piano)

April 20 & 21
Paris, France
Orchestre de Paris
Hannah KENDALL: Tuxedo
BERNSTEIN: Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety”
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

May 20
Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
BARBER: Symphony in One Movement
BARBER: Knoxville Summer of 1915
DETT: The Ordering of Moses
COPLAND arr. John WILLIAMS: “The Promise of Living” from The Tender Land

May 25–27
New York, NY
New York Philharmonic
BARBER: Symphony in One Movement
COREA: Trombone Concerto (with Joseph Alessi, trombone)
PROKOFIEV: Suite from Romeo and Juliet

June 15 & 17
Seattle, WA
Seattle Symphony Orchestra
PROKOFIEV: Suite from Romeo and Juliet
BERNSTEIN: Songfest (with Tracy Cantin, soprano; J’Nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano; Sarah Larsen, mezzo-soprano; Kevin Deas, bass-baritone)

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© 21C Media Group, November 2022


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