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Marin Alsop Leads New South African Orchestra on Its First National Tour This Week; Plus Winter Dates with LSO, Vienna RSO & Orchestras of Minnesota, Chicago, Baltimore & Dallas

Marin Alsop (photo: Theresa Wey)

(December 2022)—MacArthur award-winning conductor Marin Alsop is making major orchestral appearances on three continents as well as on record this winter. Marking her debut with South Africa’s Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra, she is currently leading the new ensemble on its inaugural national tour (Dec 15–21). In Europe, she returns to the London Symphony Orchestra for Beethoven and Weill (Feb 8 & 9) and, as Chief Conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, honors the 2023 Ligeti centennial (Jan 28). Back in her native America, she rings in the New Year with the Minnesota Orchestra (Dec 31 & Jan 1); leads the Chicago Symphony’s Chicago premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Her Story (Jan 6 & 7); and returns to the podiums of the Dallas Symphony (Feb 23–25) and Baltimore Symphony (Feb 17–19), where she previously served as Music Director for 14 seasons and recently recorded a Kevin Puts collection, due for release in February by Naxos. The new album follows the success of Alsop’s second recording with the Vienna RSO, which offers “a brilliantly triumphant and gripping interpretation of Schumann’s first two symphonies” (Online Merker, Germany).

Debut with South Africa’s Mzansi National Philharmonic on its first national tour

A truly international artist, Alsop is currently making her debut with South Africa’s Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra at concerts in Johannesburg (Dec 15), Durban (Dec 17) and Cape Town (Dec 21) that mark the new-formed orchestra’s inaugural national tour. As she recently told South Africa’s News 24:

“Performing in a three-city tour of South Africa is a first for me – and I couldn’t be more excited. I love what the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra is doing, not just in its country, but also further afield. Music and the arts have a unique power to elevate society and I appreciate the fact that this orchestra is not only intent on achieving the highest artistic goals but is also taking its responsibility to the community seriously.”

The vehicle for their first collaboration is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, of which Alsop’s interpretation with the Chicago Symphony “got to the core of the music” (Chicago Tribune). It was the same iconic work that inspired the “Global Ode to Joy,” the crowd-sourced video project she conceived to celebrate the German composer’s 250th anniversary, despite the constraints imposed by the pandemic lockdowns of 2020.

Return to LSO for Beethoven & Weill

Early next year, Alsop returns to the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) for a pairing of the Symphonic Nocturne from Weill’s Broadway show Lady in the Dark with Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, featuring Leeds Competition-winner Eric Lu as soloist. Incorporating spoken introductions to both works by the conductor herself, the program will be presented in the relaxed atmosphere of the LSO’s popular “Half Six Fix” series (Feb 8 & 9). The LSO is one of the European orchestras with which Alsop enjoys a close and longstanding relationship. Recorded for release last year by LSO Live, their live account of Bernstein’s satirical operetta Candide prompted the UK’s Telegraph to remark:

“Alsop’s affection shone in a performance of great verve. She understood where each of Bernstein’s brilliant parodies of operatic style came from, allowed each number to make its fullest impact without going over the top, and drew punchy playing from the orchestra.”

Ligeti tribute & Schumann album success with Vienna RSO

The late György Ligeti would have celebrated his 100th birthday next year. To mark the centennial, Alsop leads performances of the Hungarian-Austrian composer’s Piano Concerto, with Queen Elisabeth Competition-winner Denis Kozhukhin as soloist, and Mysteries of the Macabre, featuring Korean soprano Yeree Suh. Complemented by The Unanswered Question and Second Symphony of American experimentalist Charles Ives, this Ligeti tribute represents Alsop’s first concert of 2023 (Jan 28) with Austria’s ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (Vienna RSO), where she is now in her fourth season as Chief Conductor.

Alsop and the Vienna RSO recently recorded Schumann’s First and Second Symphonies, as reorchestrated by Mahler, as the first installment of their sophomore recording project: a complete Schumann symphonic cycle for Naxos, of which the second volume is due for release this coming spring. The first has already been warmly welcomed. Praising Alsop’s “lyrical readings” of the symphonies, Norman Lebrecht selected the disc as his “Album of the Week.” Belgium’s Crescendo was similarly enthusiastic:

“On the podium of a diligent and focused orchestra, Marin Alsop manages to maintain a narrative breath. … Romantic fluidity and momentum give way to an almost intimidating granitic power. … A beautiful musical and technical achievement.”

Classic Review agreed:

“Alsop’s reading of the first symphony is beautifully prepared, with warm and robust orchestral sound and a refreshingly unfussy and direct interpretation. This is arguably Schumann’s happiest, least troubled symphony, and Alsop inspires an atmosphere of gentle contentment. … I was captivated by Alsop’s softer approach and the warm, roundness of sound that she gets from her orchestra. It is the perfect antidote for anyone unhappy with historically informed performance practice’s encroachment into Romantic repertoire.”

Germany’s Online Merker found her interpretations “intoxicating.” The review continued:

Alsop develops the arc of suspense with skill and instinctive timing, which is evident in the inspiring finales of both symphonies. The ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra convinces with very committed playing. … Schumann’s symphonies sound radiantly bright and life-affirming. … The sound of the orchestra breathes and pulsates. A joy!

Returns to orchestras of Minnesota, Chicago, Baltimore & Dallas

Alsop returns to the States to ring in the New Year with the Minnesota Orchestra, where she leads the Minnesota premiere of Rounds, a new piano concerto by Musical America’s 2023 Composer of the Year, Jessie Montgomery, who considers the conductor “an incredible supporter” of her work (Financial Times). Featuring its dedicatee, pianist Awadagin Pratt, Montgomery’s new work shares the program with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and the overture to Bernstein’s Candide, the opera that Alsop recently recorded with the LSO (Dec 31 & Jan 1).

As Chief Conductor of the Ravinia Festival, 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) whose leadership “showcases superlative music authority” (Chicago Tribune). Early next year, she returns to lead the CSO in a program of important new works by three of the 21st century’s foremost female composers: the Chicago premiere of Her Story, a CSO co-commission from Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Wolfe; This Midnight Hour by Grammy nominee and former CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Anna Clyne; and the Chicago premiere of Rounds by present CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Montgomery, again with Awadagin Pratt. 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 (Jan 6 & 7).

Next Alsop rejoins the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for Mahler’s First Symphony, “Titan” and the world premiere of Tipping Point, a new Baltimore Symphony commission from Huang Ruo, “one of the world’s leading young composers” (New Yorker), whose new work addresses the climate change crisis (Feb 17–19). During her outstanding 14-year tenure as Music Director of the orchestra, Alsop conducted more than two dozen world premieres. These include The City and Moonlight by Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts, both of which may be heard – together with the same composer’s Marimba Concerto – on her newest recording with the orchestra, due for release by Naxos American Classics in February.

Alsop completes her winter lineup at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, with concerts featuring Antrópolis by Mexican composer and Guggenheim Fellow Gabriela Ortiz and the First Piano Concerto (“Latin”) by Latin Grammy-winning Venezuelan pianist-composer Gabriela Montero, who undertakes the solo role herself (Feb 23–25). Consistently using her platform to amplify the voices of women and people of color, Alsop is widely recognized as a leading “ambassador for classical music in the 21st century” (Financial Times).

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Marin Alsop: upcoming engagements

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 (with Denis Kozhukhin, piano)
IVES: Symphony No. 2
LIGETI: Mysteries of the Macabre (with Yeree Suh, soprano)

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
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, December 2022


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