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Marin Alsop Returns to Chicago Symphony, NDR Elbphilharmonie, Orchestre de Paris and Other Leading International Orchestras in 2022, Besides Celebrating Theatrical Release of “The Conductor”

Marin Alsop (photo: Theresa Wey)

Named 2021 Classical Woman of the Year by American Public Media’s Performance Today, MacArthur Fellow Marin Alsop maintains her prominent presence on the international stage this year. In the States, she makes high-profile appearances with the Chicago Symphony (Feb 10–12), American Composers Orchestra (March 25) and Baltimore Symphony (Jan 28–30; April 7–10), besides appearing at a New York City screening of The Conductor, the award-winning documentary about her life and career, to mark its theatrical release (Jan 27). No less active in Europe, after launching the new year with the London Philharmonic Orchestra last week, she heads into the recording studio with the London Symphony Orchestra to expand her already extensive, Grammy-winning discography; returns to the podiums of the Philharmonia Orchestra (May 19), Radio France Philharmonic (Jan 21), Orchestre de Paris (March 1–3) and NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra (Feb 18); and rejoins the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, as Chief Conductor, for concerts at home in Vienna and on tour in Spain.

U.S. engagements: Chicago, NYC and Baltimore

In February 2020, Alsop was appointed to the newly created new position of Chief Conductor and Curator of Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, where she curates and conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO)’s summer residencies. This past July, their collaborations included a performance of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with Czech pianist Lukáš Vondráček, about which the Chicago Classical Review was moved to marvel:

“Vondráček and Alsop made each quirky turn around the gate seem newly engaging and delightful, the soloist adding a little topspin each time. Alsop was a superb accompanist for her keyboard colleague and the CSO were also at their finest. … Alsop was fully in her element.”

Alsop reunites with the CSO at its Symphony Center home next month, to lead another great staple of the piano literature – Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, again with Vondráček – together with Elgar’s beloved Enigma Variations and Barber’s First Symphony (Feb 10–12). Made 21 years ago, her recording of the single-movement symphony may be heard on the very first album of her long association with Naxos, described just this year as “a must-have” (San Francisco Classical Voice); as Gramophone wrote at the time of its release:

“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. … That she is a musician of outstanding gifts is amply reinforced.”

Deeply committed to championing the works of women composers, on March 25 Alsop conducts the American Composers Orchestra in an all-female program of premieres at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. The evening’s centerpiece is the New York premiere of Lisa Bielawa’s Sanctuary, a Carnegie co-commission, with its dedicatee, violinist Jennifer Koh, as soloist. This shares the program with the world premiere of a new commission from Dai Wei, the U.S. premiere of Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama by Hannah Kendall, and the New York premiere of Restless Oceans by Grammy nominee Anna Clyne, a defiant work in which the musicians stand and sing to embrace the power of women.

January 27 marks the theatrical release of The Conductor by filmmaker Bernadette Wegenstein, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last summer. The winner of Naples International Film Festival’s 2021 Focus on the Arts Award, the documentary tells Alsop’s story through a combination of intimate interviews, moments from her professional and private life, encounters with cognoscenti in the music world, previously unseen archival footage with her mentor Leonard Bernstein, and vérité scenes of her teaching and mentoring the next generation of female conductors through the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship. Calling it “a riveting, dynamic portrait,” the Bay Area Reporter observes: “Alsop is a necessary force of nature in the classical music world and this documentary is an inspiring tribute to her.” To celebrate its theatrical release, Alsop herself will attend a screening and take part in a special public post-screening Q&A at Quad Cinema in New York City (Jan 27), before participating in similar events at theaters in Baltimore (Jan 30), Los Angeles (Feb 4), San Francisco (Feb 5) and Chicago (Feb 11). From February 7, The Conductor will also be available for streaming on demand at iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. To download the film’s press kit, click here.

Alsop recently concluded an outstanding 14-year tenure as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony (BSO), during which she led the orchestra on its first European tour in 13 years, released multiple award-winning recordings, conducted more than two dozen world premieres, and founded OrchKids, “arguably the most impressive education program of any ensemble in the country” (New York Times). Now, under the new title of Music Director Laureate and OrchKids Founder, she returns to lead the orchestra in two more programs this season. First, she combines the world premiere of Star Washers, a new BSO commission from composer and sound artist Angélica Castelló, with Saint-Saëns’s “Organ” Symphony and Pulitzer Prize-winner Wynton Marsalis’s Violin Concerto in D, with its dedicatee, Grammy-winner Nicola Benedetti, as soloist (Jan 28–30).

Next, to conclude her BSO season, Alsop pairs the live world premiere of Reena Esmail’s See Me, another BSO commission, with Beethoven’s incomparable Ninth Symphony. Reimagined as a 21st-century call for unity, justice and empowerment, the “Choral” Symphony will now feature a new interpretation of Schiller’s text, tailored to Baltimore’s vibrant multicultural community by local rapper-musician Wordsmith (April 7–10). These concerts represent Alsop’s first post-pandemic live U.S. performances of “All Together: A Global Ode to Joy,” the yearlong Beethoven celebrations she was originally scheduled to present with ten orchestras on six continents in partnership with Carnegie Hall, to celebrate the composer’s landmark 250th anniversary last year. When the pandemic struck, she instead collaborated with Google Arts & Culture, YouTube and a host of key international arts organizations to launch the crowd-sourced video project #GlobalOdeToJoy. Click here to watch her talk about Beethoven’s Ninth in a special CBS News feature, and here to see the #GlobalOdeToJoy video finale, set to a performance of the “Ode to Joy” led by Alsop herself.

London engagements: concerts with Philharmonia and recording with LSO

After kicking off her new year with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) at the Royal Festival Hall, Alsop returns to the London venue on May 19 to lead the Philharmonia Orchestra in performances of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, of which she previously led “a searing account” (Baltimore Sun), and Britten’s Violin Concerto with Arabella Steinbacher. These two 20th-century classics share the program with Strum by Sphinx Medal of Excellence-winner Jessie Montgomery, who considers the conductor “an incredible supporter” of her work (Financial Times). When Alsop performed Strum with the BBC Scottish Symphony, The Times of London admired the way she “shaped it with a lightning bolt of energy running through it, a gloriously optimistic opening to their concert.”

While in London this May, Alsop heads into the storied Abbey Road Studios with the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices choir, to make the premiere recordings of two large-scale compositions by Los Angeles Music Award-nominee Amanda Lee Falkenberg. Created in consultation with astronauts from the International Space Station and scientists from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), Falkenberg’s seven-movement work The MOONS Symphony has already been recognized with Corporate Vision magazine’s Media Innovative Award for “Most Promising Modern Orchestral Symphony Production 2020.” The forthcoming album will also capture Alsop’s leadership of the composer’s Arabian-inspired piano concerto, CROSSING of the CRESCENT MOON, with Leeds Competition-winner Anna Tsybuleva.

Paris engagements: Radio France Philharmonic & Orchestre de Paris

For the first of her three Paris engagements this season, on January 21 Alsop returns to the podium of the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra. Bookended by Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk and her celebrated interpretation of Barber’s First Symphony, their program’s centerpiece is The Confession of Isobel Gowdie by James MacMillan. Recently hailed as an example of “the essential Marin Alsop” (San Francisco Classical Voice), the conductor’s 2009 LPO recording of the work – the tale of a Scottish woman burnt at the stake for witchcraft – “is nothing if not powerful” (Gramophone).

Marking her first appearances with the ensemble since leading its televised season-opening concerts in fall 2020, Alsop returns to the French capital in March for two programs with the Orchestre de Paris. These juxtapose her interpretations of two Tchaikovsky symphonies – the Fourth (March 1 & 2) and Sixth, “Pathétique” (March 3) – with works by contemporary female composers led by two up-and-coming female conductors. In 2002 Alsop founded the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship (formerly known as the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship), which has provided intensive coaching, mentorship and financial support to more than two dozen aspiring female conductors to date. These include 2019 Taki Award Recipient Rebecca Tong, Resident Conductor of the Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra, who took first prize at the inaugural La Maestra competition in 2020. Testifying to Alsop’s commitment to promoting gender diversity in music and helping other women follow in her own pioneering footsteps, both Tong and La Maestra’s second-prize winner – Stephanie Childress, Assistant Conductor of the St Louis Symphony – will appear alongside her in the upcoming Orchestre de Paris concerts, sharing conducting duties for the world premiere of Hedera helix – a triptych by Claire-Mélanie Sinnhuber – and the French premieres of Earworms by Juno Award-winner Vivian Fung and Everyone Sang by Scotland’s Helen Grime, made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2020.

Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra: “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey”

Alsop herself was mentored by Leonard Bernstein, of whose music she is widely recognized as one of the foremost exponents. Recorded with the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Bournemouth and São Paulo, her eight-volume set of the composer’s complete orchestral works features many “definitive performances” (New York Times), “some of which seem better than the composer’s own” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Among them is her account of his Second Symphony, “The Age of Anxiety,” a concertante work inspired by W.H. Auden’s poem of the same name. When she recorded it with Jean-Yves Thibaudet as the piano soloist, Gramophone pronounced their interpretation “scintillating,” in a review that continued: “He is very much a chip off the Bernstein block. There’s a chemistry, too, with Marin Alsop that is tangible throughout.” As The Times of London affirmed, when the two reprised their performance of the piece at London’s BBC Proms:

“You couldn’t have an anniversary celebration of Leonard Bernstein at the Proms without one of his galvanising successors, Marin Alsop, who studied with the American composer-conductor, has championed his music and adopted his passion for social activism and musical education.”

Small wonder, then, that when putting together “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey,” a six-concert winter exploration of American music, Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra turned to Alsop and Thibaudet to perform the work that inspired their festival’s name. She conducts Bernstein’s symphony as the centerpiece of her all-American program with the orchestra, alongside Barber’s Second Essay for Orchestra and John Adams’s Fearful Symmetries (Feb 18).

As Chief Conductor of the Vienna RSO: at home and in Spain

Alsop rounds out her winter and spring lineup at the helm of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSO Vienna). Now in her third season as its Chief Conductor, she leads the orchestra in four programs at home in Vienna, as well as on a five-city Spanish tour. Presented at Vienna’s Musikverein, their first concert combines the Austrian premiere of The Flight of Bitter Water by Lili Boulanger Prize-winner Charlotte Bray with Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin Suite, Brett Dean’s Cello Concerto (featuring Alban Gerhardt) and Hindemith’s Nusch-Nuschi-Tänze, as heard on Alsop’s recent recording of the composer’s orchestral music, made with the Vienna RSO for Naxos (Feb 3). Next, at the Vienna Konzerthaus, she and the orchestra give the world premiere of a new Vienna RSO commission from emerging young composer and winner of the Austrian Cultural Forum London’s Composer Competition Hannah Eisendle, alongside Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony and Korngold’s Violin Concerto, with violinist Ning Feng as soloist (March 11). Now flanking Schumann’s Cello Concerto (with Austrian-Persian cellist Kian Soltani), both Eisendle’s new work and the Dvořák Symphony are also on the program when Alsop and the orchestra head to Spain, on a tour that takes them to Madrid, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Alicante and San Sebastián (March 16–20).

Back at the Vienna Konzerthaus, Alsop leads the RSO Vienna in the world premiere of Around a Roundabout by Erkel Ferenc Prize-winner Judit Varga. This shares the program with MacMillan’s The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, as in Paris, and Bartók’s one-act opera, Bluebeard’s Castle, featuring mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham and bass-baritone Gerald Finley in the leading roles (April 29). Finally, on June 2, Alsop draws the season to a close at the Musikverein, where she and the Vienna RSO give the world premiere of a new work by leading Austrian spectral composer Georg Friedrich Haas. Also on the program are Zimmermann’s Silence and Reversal and two works by John Adams: his Grammy-winning symphony, City Noir, and Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance, which he wrote as a farewell gift to Alsop after her quarter-century as Music Director of California’s Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. As she told NPR shortly before conducting its premiere, Alsop considers Adams her “dear friend.” She continued: “We have been collaborators – or maybe I should say partners in crime – on many occasions over these decades, but this farewell at Cabrillo will be especially sweet.”

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Marin Alsop: winter and spring engagements 2022

Jan 21
Paris, France
Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra
DVOŘÁK: Cello Concerto (with Truls Mørk, cello)
James MACMILLAN: The Confession of Isobel Gowdie
BARBER: Symphony No. 1

Jan 27
New York, NY
Quad Cinema
The Conductor
Post-screening Q&A

Jan 28, 29 & 30
Baltimore, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Angélica CASTELLÓ: Star Washers (world premiere of BSO Commission)
Wynton MARSALIS: Violin Concerto in D (with Nicola Benedetti, violin)
SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 3, “Organ”

Jan 30
Baltimore, MD
The Charles
The Conductor
Post-screening Q&A

Feb 3
Vienna, Austria
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Charlotte BRAY: The Flight of Bitter Water (Austrian premiere)
Brett DEAN: Cello Concerto (with Alban Gerhardt, cello)
HINDEMITH: Nusch-Nuschi-Tänze
BARTÓK: Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin

Feb 4
Los Angeles, CA
Laemmle Royal
The Conductor
Post-screening Q&A

Feb 5
San Francisco, CA
Landmark Opera Plaza Cinema
The Conductor
Post-screening Q&A

Feb 10–12
Chicago, IL
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
BARBER: Symphony No. 1
RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Lukáš Vondráček, piano)
ELGAR: Enigma Variations

Feb 11
Chicago, IL
Landmark Renaissance Place
The Conductor
Post-screening Q&A

Feb 18
Hamburg, Germany
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Festival: “Age of Anxiety – An American Journey”
BARBER: Second Essay for Orchestra, Op. 17
ADAMS: Fearful Symmetries
BERNSTEIN: Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, “The Age of Anxiety” (with Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano)

March 1 & 2
Paris, France
Orchestre de Paris
Viviane FUNG: Earworms (French premiere; with Rebecca Tong, guest conductor)
Claire-Mélanie SINNHUBER: Hedera helix I (world premiere; with Rebecca Tong, guest conductor)
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4

March 3
Paris, France
Orchestre de Paris
Helen GRIME: Everyone Sang (French premiere; with Stephanie Childress, guest conductor)
Claire-Mélanie SINNHUBER: Hedera helix III (world premiere; with Stephanie Childress, guest conductor)
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique”

March 11
Vienna, Austria
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Hannah EISENDLE: new work (world premiere of new ORF commission)
KORNGOLD: Violin Concerto (with Ning Feng, violin)
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 7

March 16–20
Spanish tour with ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
March 16: Madrid
March 17: Zaragoza
March 18: Barcelona
March 19: Alicante
March 20: San Sebastián
Hannah EISENDLE: new work (Spanish premiere)
SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto (with Kian Soltani, cello)
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 7

March 25
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall)
American Composers Orchestra
Lisa BIELAWA: Sanctuary (NY premiere of Carnegie Hall co-commission; with Jennifer Koh, violin)
Anna CLYNE: Restless Oceans (NY premiere)
Hannah KENDALL: Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama (US premiere)
Dai WEI: new work (world premiere)

April 7–10
Baltimore, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
(with Ah Young Hong, soprano; Taylor Raven, mezzo-soprano; Jonathan Johnson, tenor; Simon Shibambu, bass; Wordsmith, spoken word artist; Morgan State University Concert Choir; The Carter Legacy Singers; Keur Khaleyi, African Drumming Troupe; Sean Jones and Peabody Jazz)
Reena ESMAI: See Me (world premiere of BSO commission)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9, “Choral”

April 29
Vienna, Austria
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Judit VARGA: Around a Roundabout (world premiere)
James MACMILLAN: The Confession of Isobel Gowdie
BARTÓK: Bluebeard’s Castle (with Rinat Shaham, mezzo-soprano; Gerald Finley, bass-baritone)

May 19
London, England
Philharmonia Orchestra
Jessie MONTGOMERY: Strum
BRITTEN: Violin Concerto (with Arabella Steinbacher, violin)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5

June 2
Vienna, Austria
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
John ADAMS: Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance (from Girls of the Golden West)
Bernd Alois ZIMMERMANN: Silence and Reversal
Georg Friedrich HAAS: new work (world premiere)
John ADAMS: City Noir

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© 21C Media Group, January 2022


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