New BSO radio series will explore Alsop’s first years with orchestra

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Marin Alsop conducts the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The 2020-2021 season will be her last as music director. Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 2020-2021 season, music director Marin Alsop’s last with the group, is still set to start in September.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic possibly stretching into next year, it’s unclear if the season will begin on schedule.

In the meantime, the orchestra will celebrate Alsop’s tenure with a new program on 91.5 FM WBJC called BSO Encore, featuring broadcasts of performances from the maestra’s first two years in Baltimore.

Starting July 19, the station will air an archival performance from the 2007-08 or 2008-09 seasons every Sunday, from 1-3 p.m., for 10 weeks. The upcoming concert features Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3, Baltimore-composer Christopher Rouse’s Flute Concerto, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

Principal Flute Emily Skala, who performs in the second piece, will join hosts Jonathan Palevsky and Kati Harrison for an interview to introduce the concert.

BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome said in a statement the orchestra is “honored to begin celebrating Music Director Marin Alsop’s remarkable tenure by revisiting the inspiring performances of her first two seasons with the BSO throughout this series.”

In a statement, Palevsky said the station is “thrilled” to have the BSO on the air for the first time in two decades.

“During these challenging times, when live performances are not possible, WBJC is delighted to present our amazing orchestra to the Baltimore/Washington area over the air at 91.5 FM and streaming to the world at WBJC.com,” he said.

PNC Bank is a sponsor of the show.

Alsop announced in February that she was stepping down at the end of her current contract, which is set to expire Aug. 31, 2021, after 14 years leading the orchestra.

Alsop, the first woman to lead a major orchestra in the U.S., will lead the orchestra on occasion as Music Director Laureate and continue to oversee OrchKids, an after-school program she founded to teach local children how to play classical music.

According to an Associated Press report from Feb. 5, Alsop has been given a two-year appointment as the first chief conductor of the Ravinia Festival, the annual summer residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia Park. She was named an artistic curator of the festival in 2018.

The news came two weeks after the orchestra adopted a new five-year plan to shore up its finances and push a new artistic vision–an antidote to a tumultuous 2019 that included funding woes and labor strife.

In her final season, Alsop is slated to conduct some of her favorite works, including Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2,” Mozart’s “Requiem,” Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” and Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloé.”

Brandon Weigel


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