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Just Named Principal Guest Conductor of London’s Philharmonia, Marin Alsop Leads Unprecedented Third “Last Night of the Proms,” Plus Six CSO Programs at Ravinia, NY Phil at Bravo! Vail, & New Album

(April 2023) — It was a full decade ago, in 2013, that Marin Alsop became the first woman to conduct London’s Last Night of the Proms. Now the MacArthur award-winning conductor is poised to make history once again. When she leads the Last Night of the 2023 BBC Proms on September 9, she will represent not only the first woman, but also the first American to guest conduct three Last Nights in the festival’s 128-year history. This milestone event follows the announcement that Alsop has been named Principal Guest Conductor of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra for a four-season appointment, starting this fall. Meanwhile she is undertaking a series of high-profile U.S. engagements. After stepping in to draw “a viscerally thrilling performance” (Financial Times) from the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, she reunites with the same ensemble for Pride Week (June 3); helms an all-Russian evening with the New York Philharmonic at Colorado’s Bravo! Vail festival (July 26); and, as Chief Conductor of the Ravinia Festival, leads six creatively curated programs with the Chicago Symphony at its summer home (July 8–Aug 6). Alsop may also be heard conducting the world premiere recordings of concertos by Malek Jandali on a new Cedille Records release with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (May 12), where she is now completing her fourth season as Chief Conductor.

Making history at London’s Last Night of the Proms

The closing concert of London’s annual BBC Proms festival has long been an iconic if sometimes controversial tradition. Ten years ago, Alsop’s Last Night of the Proms debut was hailed as “one of the slickest Last Nights in recent memory with music and mayhem, virtuosity and fun, held in reasonably stable equilibrium” (The Arts Desk, UK). The Guardian affirmed:

“Of all Last Nights in recent memory, this was the most enjoyable, the least hysterical and the most warm-hearted. … This was, essentially, a Last Night in which the music came first. … Alsop led the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chorus and top soloists in works from Handel to Broadway. She indulged the audience with three tries at ‘Land of Hope and Glory,’ her beat funkier with every attempt.”

After leading a second Last Night two years later, now Alsop returns to London’s Royal Albert Hall for her third, at which she and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will be joined by British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen. Featuring the world premiere of 1922, a celebration of the BBC’s centenary from fast-rising British composer James B. Wilson, their program will once again see the conductor put her own characteristic spin on the event’s trademark mix of singalongs, sea shanties, flag-waving and humor (Sep 9).

New appointment as Principal Guest Conductor of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra

Alsop’s previous appearances with Sheku Kanneh-Mason include a concerto collaboration during one of her three highly acclaimed concerts with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra last year. Their performance prompted The Times of London 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.”

Now, citing her “exceptional musicianship, commitment to diversity and education, and the breadth of her repertoire,” the orchestra has named Alsop its next Principal Guest Conductor. She inaugurates this four-season appointment this fall, with a jazz-infused, all-American program to kick off the orchestra’s “Let Freedom Ring” series (Oct 19).

Kira Doherty, President of the Philharmonia says:

“We are hugely fortunate to welcome Marin Alsop to the Philharmonia Orchestra under the title of Principal Guest Conductor. Alsop created an immediate rapport with the players in her three concerts with the orchestra last year through her strong musical vision and her collaborative approach to music making. She is a true trailblazer and visionary who challenges the accepted norms of the classical world through her innovative programming and education work. Alsop holds a position in the industry that few have managed to replicate: an esteemed and highly respected custodian of musical tradition who simultaneously works to reimagine its future and ensure its continued relevance. We are thrilled to have her on board in this new and exciting partnership.”

Alsop responds:

“This appointment as Principal Guest Conductor with the Philharmonia Orchestra is a fantastic opportunity to deepen my relationship with these wonderful musicians and audiences. My work in London has been some of the most rewarding of my career. I am so looking forward to working more closely with this innovative, forward-thinking orchestra to create programs and projects that draw from its long history of exceptional music making and continue to embrace the new and the bold.”

Innovative Chicago Symphony programs at Ravinia

Alsop remains in high demand in her homeland. She drew rave reviews at the Ravinia Festival last year, where, as Chief Conductor, she led five programs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and inaugurated a new mini-festival, “Breaking Barriers.” Chicago’s WTTW TV pronounced her CSO collaboration “a once-in-a-lifetime experience” and Classical Voice North America observed: “Summer festivals can and should take more risks and, indeed, break barriers. That is exactly what Alsop and Ravinia did successfully.”

This season she returns for another summer of innovative programming with the Chicago Symphony. Highlights include a season-opening reimagining of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, showcasing African drumming and original text by former U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith (July 14); a pairing of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony with songs by Alma Mahler, featuring Grammy-winning mezzo Sasha Cooke (July 19); and Ravinia’s second annual “Breaking Barriers” festival: “Celebrating Women Composers” (July 21–23). Together with Valentina Peleggi, a graduate of the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship, Alsop leads the three-day mini-festival’s opening concert: a program of CSO premieres from Gabriela Ortiz, Roxanna Panufnik and Gabriela Montero, who appears as soloist in her own Latin Piano Concerto (July 21).

Returns to Philadelphia Orchestra & New York Philharmonic

Alsop also returns to two other top American orchestras this summer. To celebrate Pride Week, she conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra with the ANNA Crusis Feminist Choir, Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus and Philadelphia Voices of Pride in the world premiere of The Marvels Suite by five-time Emmy-winner Laura Karpman, flanked by music ranging from Lady Gaga and Jeppe Laursen’s “Born This Way” to Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, a work dedicated to the conductor herself (June 3).

The concert follows Alsop’s recent success when she stepped in for an ailing Yannick Nézet-Séguin to lead the Philadelphia Orchestra in “a precise and transparent, yet terrifyingly alive Rite of Spring” (New York Times) at Carnegie Hall. As the Financial Times reported:

“The colours were fantastic and the overall force, driven especially by intense playing in the percussion section, was as committed and as fiery as it gets. This was a physically rousing experience that brought the audience to their feet.”

Alsop returns to New York later this spring to conduct Joseph Alessi and the New York Philharmonic in the U.S. premiere of Chick Corea’s Trombone Concerto (May 25–27), before reuniting with the same ensemble at Colorado’s Bravo! Vail festival. Their all-Russian program pairs Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite with Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, featuring Yunchan Lim, the youngest Van Cliburn gold medallist to date (July 26).

World premiere recordings with Rachel Barton Pine & Anthony McGill

Now nearing the end of her fourth season as Chief Conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Alsop also looks forward to the release of their most recent recording together. Scheduled for physical and digital release by Cedille Records on May 12, the new album presents Rachel Barton Pine and Anthony McGill as soloists in the world premiere recordings of new violin and clarinet concertos by Malek Jandali, the Syrian American composer known for his “heart-rending melodies, lush orchestration, clever transitions and creative textures” (American Record Guide).

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Marin Alsop: new recording
Concertos by Malek Jandali (world premiere recordings)
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Release date: May 12, 2023
Format: physical and digital
Label: Cedille Records
M. JANDALI: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (with Rachel Barton Pine, violin)
M. JANDALI: Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra (with Anthony McGill, clarinet)

Marin Alsop: upcoming engagements

May 12
Baltimore, MD
Peabody Symphony Orchestra
Du YUN Project

May 20
Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
BARBER: Symphony No. 1 in One Movement
BARBER: Knoxville: Summer of 1915
DETT: Excerpts from 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 No. 1 in One Movement
COREA: Trombone Concerto (with Joseph Alessi, trombone)
PROKOFIEV: Suite from Romeo and Juliet

June 3
Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Orchestra
With ANNA Crusis Feminist Choir, Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus & Philadelphia Voices of Pride
Pride Concert
COPLAND: Fanfare for the Common Man
Joan TOWER: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman
Laura KARPMAN: The Marvels Suite (world premiere)
Carly SIMON: “Let the River Run” from Working Girl
David L. BRUNNER: “Phoenix Song”
LADY GAGA and Jeppe LAURSEN: “Born This Way”
BARBER: Adagio for Strings
Jennifer HIGDON: Fourth movement from Concerto for Orchestra
TCHAIKOVSKY: Fourth movement from Symphony No. 4

June 15 & 17
Seattle, WA
Seattle Symphony
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)

June 29
College Park, MD
National Orchestral Institute
Wang JIE: The Winter that United Us
Clarice ASSAD: Nhanderú (Overture for Orchestra)
Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps

July 1
College Park, MD
National Orchestral Institute
Carlos SIMON: Fate Now Conquers
Jennifer HIGDON: Duo Duel for two percussionists and orchestra
Brahms: Symphony No. 1

July 8–Aug 6: Highland Park, IL
Ravinia Festival

July 8: Kids Concert Series
Chicago Philharmonic

July 14: Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Opening Night: “Turn Up the Joy: Beethoven 9”
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”) (with Janai Brugger, soprano; Ashley Dixon, mezzo-soprano;
Paul Appleby, tenor; Ryan Speedo Green, bass-baritone; Adrian Dunn Singers; Ayodele Drum & Dance;
Jim Gailloreto Trio; Senn High School Choir)

July 15: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Shulamit RAN: Chicago Skyline
BRAHMS: Violin Concerto (with Miriam Fried, violin)
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5

July 1: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Gala evening benefiting Reach Teach Play (with Heather Headley, vocalist)

July 19: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
A. MAHLER: Three Songs (with Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano)
G. MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

July 21: Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Breaking Barriers Festival
Gabriela ORTIZ: Antrópolis
Gabriela MONTERO: Latin Piano Concerto (with Gabriela Montero, piano)
Roxanna PANUFNIK: Across the Line of Dreams
VILLA-LOBOS: Choros 10

Aug 1: Ravinia Steans Music Institute Program for Singers

Aug 4 & 6: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
MOZART: The Magic Flute (starring Janai Brugger & Matthew Polenzani)

Aug 5: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Augusta Read THOMAS: Gambol
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 3 (with Yunchan Lim, piano)

July 26
Vail, CO
Bravo! Vail
New York Philharmonic
PROKOFIEV: Romeo & Juliet Suite
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 3 (with Yunchan Lim, piano)

Sep 9
London, England
Royal Albert Hall
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Prom 71: Last Night of the Proms 2023
With BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Singers
R. STRAUSS: Don Juan (with Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello)
COLERIDGE-TAYLOR, arr. S. Parkin: Deep River (with Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello)
BRUCH: Kol nidrei (with Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello)
James B. WILSON: 1922 (world premiere of new BBC commission)
WAGNER: “Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser (with Lise Davidsen, soprano)
MASCAGNI: Easter Hymn from Cavalleria rusticana (with Lise Davidsen, soprano)
MASCAGNI: Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana
VERDI: “Vieni! t’affretta!” from Macbeth (with Lise Davidsen, soprano)
KÁLMÁN: “Heia, heia, in den Bergen ist mein Heimatland” from The Gypsy Princess (with Lise Davidsen, soprano)
TRAD., arr. Wood: Fantasia on British Sea Songs
ARNE, arr. Sargent: Rule, Britannia!
ELGAR: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D, “Land of Hope and Glory”
PARRY, orch. Elgar: Jerusalem
UNKNOWN, arr. Britten: The National Anthem
TRAD., arr. Paul Campbell: Auld Lang Syne

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© 21C Media Group, April 2023


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