Bravos for the BSO

March 05, 1995

These are heady times for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Last Wednesday, the orchestra won two Grammys for its collaboration with cellist Yo-Yo Ma on "The New York Album," a recording of concertos by Bela Bartok, Ernest Bloch and Stephen Albert. The orchestra won a Grammy four years ago for another recording with Mr. Ma, and Music Director David Zinman has collected another couple of Grammys for his work with other orchestras.

Bravos are in order. If the BSO and Maestro Zinman keep it up, this could become a regular thing. Which is exactly the point: The BSO has been steadily evolving into a world-class ensemble, and now the rewards and recognition it has worked so hard to achieve are finally being accorded it.

During its month-long tour last year of East Asia, for example, where Western classical music is revered by young and old alike, the BSO showed it could compete with the best. That wildly successful series of concerts was a defining moment in the orchestra's history that Sun music critic Stephen Wigler called a "quantum leap" to a new level of artistic and technical accomplishment.

Next season, the orchestra is set to scale new heights with the world premier of William Bolcom's Concerto for Two Pianos Left Hand, performed by Leon Fleisher and Gary Graffman. The unusual work, which will be performed over the span of three evenings, was commissioned specifically for the BSO by Mr. Zinman.

The season will also see the Baltimore debut of a phenomenal child prodigy, violinist Sarah Chang, and the return of fiery French pianist Helene Grimaud, who made a sensational BSO debut in 1994. These performances are likely to seal the BSO's reputation as an ensemble of the first rank.

Meanwhile the orchestra will continue its recording activities and a concert season that blends the great works of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Wagner with adventurous forays into new music by contemporary masters.

In a decade as music director, Mr. Zinman has brought the BSO to dizzying heights. Last week's Grammy awards tell part of the story; much more lies in the distinguished artists who have found the BSO a congenial musical partner, the critical acclaim the orchestra has garnered wherever it performs and the sustained and highly successful outreach campaign the BSO has waged to win new audiences among young people and minorities. All these have been tremendous accomplishments that have marked a milestone in the musical life of Baltimore.

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