Marin Alsop renews Baltimore Symphony contract through 2021

(Kym Thomson )
July 24, 2013|By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun

Marin Alsop, who began her appointment as Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director in 2007, has signed a new contract extending her tenure through August 2021.

Alsop's hiring made international headlines, both because she was the first woman to gain the top artistic post at a major American orchestra and because the BSO players initially objected, describing the search process as rushed.

Since that bumpy start, Alsop and the musicians have developed a smooth working relationship and have enjoyed considerable successes locally and nationally (several visits to Carnegie Hall generated high praise).

Alsop greatly revitalized the scope of the BSO's programming; restarted the orchestra's long-dormant tradition of making recordings (a superb version of Bernstein's "Mass" was nominated for a Grammy in 2009); and launched innovative educational projects, including the OrchKids venture in inner city schools and the BSO Academy for amateur musicians, resulting in widespread national and international attention.

Statistics also attest to the potency of the Alsop/BSO collaboration. The season before her arrival, average capacity at the orchestra's home base, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, was 58 percent; 77 percent at its second home in Montgomery County, the Music Center at Strathmore. Last season's figures: 70 percent at Meyerhoff, 80 percent at Strathmore.

And during Alsop's tenure, the orchestra reports that the number of contributions has reached about 10,000, almost double the figure in 2007. 

In 2009, Alsop extended her initial contract through 2015. The new extension carries her through the BSO's centennial in 2016.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Alsop said: "I am deeply grateful and excited for the opportunity to lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for several more years. This orchestra’s artistic caliber, coupled with their passion for music, makes it my privilege to assume the podium each week. ... [We] have many accomplishments of which I am quite proud. But I am certainly not finished. I have more ideas ... and the BSO is my perfect partner towards realizing these goals."

BSO president and CEO Paul Meecham said that Alsop "revitalized this institution," leading to "some electrifying performances" and "bold engagement initiatives [that] have now had time to take root and create a lasting, meaningful impact in this community ...  She is in-demand around the globe and the BSO is proud that she has chosen to call Maryland home for another six years."

No word yet from the musicians; the orchestra was informed of the contract extension during a rehearsal Wednesday morning.

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