“Tomorrow Marin Alsop will shatter the glass baton. As she steps onto the podium for her inaugural concert as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), Ms. Alsop becomes the first woman to assume the leadership of a major American symphony. The baton she will grasp will be a simple wooden one, worn and slightly crooked, handcrafted by her father,” writes
Elaine F. Weiss in the Christian Science Monitor.

Weiss goes on to describe how Alsop, 50, is not only breaking gender barriers, but is out to “rethink and rejuvenate the symphony orchestra in the 21st century.”

Her other plans are more radical. She aspires to make symphony halls welcoming places, not austere temples of culture where only the cognoscenti dare enter. “It’s all about creating a sense of community,” she says. “To give a feeling of connection and relevance.”

And she wants to use new technologies to carry the music beyond the hall and into people’s ear buds: Her inaugural concert on Thursday will be broadcast live on XM satellite radio, and an audio pod cast of
Alsop in rehearsal with the orchestra will be available on iTunes. She is also making video webcast commentaries to supplement the program notes for her concerts.

And on top of all that, Baltimore loves her. Who wouldn’t? On the first day of ticket sales, she served doughnuts to people waiting in line.

Alsop is brilliant, a 2005 MacArthur Foundation award winner, and yet completely accessible. NPR’s Scott Simon, who discusses symphonies and composers with Alsop during the “Weekend Edition” Saturday show, tells the Monitor:

“Musicians, like actors and writers, can be maddeningly inarticulate about what they do – because they do it, not talk about it. Marin is that rare exception. She has such a lucid, human understanding of music that she can explain something the way that others might tell you about certain items on the wall of their living room.”

It’s a terrific story; read the full piece here. There’s also an audio interview in which CSM editor Scott Armstrong and reporter Elaine Weiss discuss the significance of Alsop’s ascent.

And at NPR, you can read or listen to Alsop’s commentaries.


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  • Elizabeth Hemmerdinger September 26, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Music to my ears! EGH