Musicians urge BSO to keep searching

End `premature' in music director hunt

July 16, 2005|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

CLARIFICATION

In an article in yesterday's editions of The Sun, a condensed quotation altered the meaning of comments by Jane Marvine, head of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's players committee, who was speaking about musicians' opposition to the conclusion of a search for a new music director.

The full quotation should have read: "Our understanding is that the seven musician members of the search committee who represent the sentiments of the orchestra members are unanimous in their view that a decision at this time is premature and that the search process should continue."

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians yesterday issued a statement criticizing as "premature" the conclusion of a search for a new music director.

The unusual public protest came a day after news spread that Marin Alsop, the most prominent female conductor on the international music scene, is expected to be appointed next week to the post.

Alsop, 48, who led the Colorado Symphony for a dozen years and now serves as music director of the Bournemouth Symphony in England, would succeed Yuri Temirkanov, who announced in September that he will step down at the end of the 2005-2006 season.

"The orchestra members are unanimous in their view that the search process should continue," Jane Marvine, head of the BSO players committee, said yesterday, reading from a prepared text. "The musicians are very troubled by the fact that board members will be asked to make a crucial decision without having a reasonable opportunity to investigate and consider the issues being raised by the musicians."

Anthony Brandon, a BSO board member who served on the music director search committee, said he agreed with the orchestra's stand. "I am disappointed that the committee could not have continued its work in hopes of finding a music director who could be supported by the musicians," said Brandon, president and general manager of the public radio station WYPR.

Meanwhile, Alsop, who is on a cruise off the New England coast, said through a publicist yesterday that "I've looked forward to working with the world-class musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with a special excitement since the first time I conducted them, in a rehearsal of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring [in 2002]."

She described the musicians as "exceptional, committed and passionate about what they do. And, with the board and staff, they make a great team."

The pending appointment comes at a time when the BSO is facing an accumulated deficit of about $10 million and continued concerns about its future growth in Baltimore.

BSO president James Glicker said that Alsop would bring several strengths to the BSO.

"The main thing is artistic excellence," he said. "She is a world-renowned conductor who is well-respected in the industry. She's a real audience-builder. She has no qualms about mixing with donors and reaching out to them. She's a progressive. She's experimental. She's willing to explore different concert formats."

Glicker noted that Alsop's widely praised affinity for contemporary repertoire would "amplify a major facet of the BSO for 20 years. That will be great."

Alsop is already scheduled to record the Red Violin Concerto by John Corigliano with the orchestra and violinist Joshua Bell next summer for the Sony label. Her connections in the industry could lead to more recordings.

The musicians' statement yesterday did not refer to Alsop by name or mention any specific concerns about her.

The seven musician members of the 21-person search committee will attend Tuesday's board meeting and be permitted to explain their views. The orchestra has been told by management, Marvine said, "not to share written materials with the board members or to try to speak with them in advance of the Tuesday meeting."

Glicker said yesterday that "the board will take the musicians' feelings into consideration, I can assure you of that."

If, as expected, the board approves Alsop's hiring, Glicker expressed confidence that she would achieve a smooth relationship with the orchestra through "her personality on the podium. That's pretty compelling," he said. "And she has great people skills. I'm hoping that's going to win the day."

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