Marin Alsop is the Baltimore SO's current music director since 2007, the first female conductor in the post.
Founded in 1916, the Baltimore SO is the only major American orchestra originally established as a branch of the municipal government. Reorganized as a private institution in 1942, it maintains close relationships with the governments and communities of the city and surrounding counties, as well as with the State of Maryland.
The Baltimore SO's modern history dates from 1965, when Baltimore arts patron Joseph Meyerhoff became president of the Orchestra, a position he held for 18 years. Meyerhoff appointed Romanian-born conductor Sergiu Comissiona as music director.
Beginning February 2017, Peter T. Kjome serves as the President and CEO. The Baltimore SO's Principal Pops Conductor is Jack Everly. Yuri Temirkanov, Music Director from 2000-2006, now has the title of Music Director Emeritus. The orchestra's current BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellow is Michael Repper. In 2016, the BSO appointed Tonya McBride Robles as Vice President and General Manager.
Concert Halls/Performance Venues
Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
The Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall has been the home of the Baltimore SO since its opening on September 16, 1982. Named for businessman and philanthropist Joseph Meyerhoff, the 2,443-seat hall has undergone renovations in 1990 and again in 2001.
The Music Center at Strathmore
The Orchestra's second home is the 1,976-seat Music Center at Strathmore, located in North Bethesda, Maryland. With the opening of the Music Center at Strathmore in February 2005, the Baltimore Symphony became the nation's first orchestra with year-round venues in two metropolitan areas. As the founding partner and resident orchestra of the Music Center, the Baltimore SO presents 35 performances in the concert hall annually.
In addition to its Baltimore and Strathmore residencies, the orchestra regularly performs in Frederick, its longest continuing run-out concert series, as well as at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has commissioned several works from American composers, which include:
In 1987, the Baltimore SO and its then-music director David Zinman undertook a concert tour of Europe and the Soviet Union. The Baltimore SO was the first American orchestra in 11 years to tour the Soviet Union after cultural relations resumed towards the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Under Zinman, the orchestra made its first visit to East Asia in 1994, with subsequent East Asia tours in 1997 and 2002.
The Baltimore SO has also appeared at Carnegie Hall, including a February 2008 concert with the New York premiere of Steven Mackey's percussion concerto Time Release with soloist Colin Currie.
The BSO performs approximately 30 education concerts and open rehearsals each year for more than 60,000 area students in pre-school through 12th grade. Cornerstone initiatives include 'BSO on the Go', a program that brings small groups of BSO musicians into schools for interactive music education workshops at no cost to the schools, and 'Side-by-Side' concerts, which allow student musicians to rehearse and perform a full-length concert alongside BSO musicians. Rusty Musicians, a program geared towards adult amateur musicians, allows participants to join the BSO and perform under its conductor.
In May 2008, the BSO began OrchKids, an after-school program to provide music experience and education for youth in Baltimore City’s low-income neighborhoods. In collaboration with community partners, it provides music education, instruments, meals and mentorship at no cost to the participants. OrchKids serves more than 400 students from pre-K through fifth grade at Lockerman Bundy Elementary School, New Song Academy, Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School and Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School. OrchKids maintains a faculty of 27 professional working/teaching musicians and academy classroom teachers. Business and community partners include Baltimore City Public Schools, The Peabody Institute, Baltimore School for the Arts, The Family League of Baltimore, University of Maryland Baltimore County and others. Lead funding support was provided by initial gifts of $100,000 from Marin Alsop and $1,000,000 from Rheda Becker and Robert Meyerhoff.
The OrchKids program aspires to provide Baltimore City's children tools to expand their opportunities for creativity, self-expression, cooperative learning, teamwork, academic success and self-esteem.
The BSO Academy is an annual intensive week-long study program that helps amateur musicians improve the skills through learning and performance with the BSO and its conductor. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided leadership support for the BSO Academy since 2012.
Geared towards adult amateur musicians, "Rusty Musicians with the BSO" is a programme where for one evening, amateur musicians are invited to join members of the Baltimore SO on stage to rehearse and perform selected repertoire led by Marin Alsop. The first "Rusty Musicians" event was at Strathmore in February 2010, with more than 400 amateur musicians participating. The program was repeated at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in September 2010 with nearly 300 adult amateur participants.
The Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra (BSYO), formerly known as the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra, came under the umbrella of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2012. It is made up of three different ensembles, categorized by age group and experience: the String Orchestra, the Concert Orchestra, and the Youth Orchestra. The BSYO performs at the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The BSYO is led by artistic director Nicholas Hersh, who also conducts the Youth Orchestra. The String Orchestra is under the baton of Wesley Thompson, and the Concert Orchestra is led by Mary Ann Poling.
XM Satellite Radio: Hosted by XM Classics 110 Program Director Martin Goldsmith, each program features a full-length BSO concert conducted by Marin Alsop, as well as behind-the-scenes interviews with Alsop and guest artists.
iTunesClueless About Classical: Hosted by Marin Alsop, these podcasts take novice listeners behind-the-scenes with the BSO, exploring repertoire, composers, musical concepts and orchestra life.
'NPR’s "Weekend Edition" with Scott Simon: Alsop is a regular guest with her segment "Marin Alsop on Music."
1997: Bernstein: Candide Overture, "Symphonic Dances" from West Side Story; Fancy Free, Facsimile (Argo/London)
1996: Michael Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony, Bizarro (Argo/London)
1995: Glinka: Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla; Ippolitov-Ivanov: Caucasian Sketches, op. 10; Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture, op. 36; Tchaikovsky: Francesca da Rimini, op. 32; “Polonaise” from Eugene Onegin, (Telarc)
1995: Bernstein: “Mambo” from West Side Story: John Adams in The Chairman Dances; Aaron Jay Kernis in New Era Dance; David Schiff in Stomp; Libby Larsen in Collage-Boogie; John Harbison in Remembering Gatsby; Michael Torke in Charcoal, Robert Moran in Points of Departure; Dominick Argento in “Tango” from The Dream of Valentin; Michael Daugherty in Desi; Christopher Rouse in Bonham (Decca)
1992: Barber: Adagio for Strings’ Overture to The School for Scandal, op. 5; First Essay for Orchestra, op. 12; Music for a Scene from Shelley, op. 7; Second Essay for Orchestra, op. 17; Symphony No. 1, op. 9 (Argo/London)
1992: Elgar: Symphony No. 1, op. 55; Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches Nos. 1 and 2, op. 39 (Telarc)
1992: Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 1; Phantasmata (Nonesuch)
1991: Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite (1919 version); Petrushka (1947 version); Fireworks, op. 4 (Telarc)
1991: Michael Torke: Green; Purple; Ecstatic Orange; Ash; Bright Blue Music (Argo/London)
1991: Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture, op. 9; Les Francs-Juges Overture, op. 3; Symphonie fantastique, op. 14 (Telarc)
1989: Elgar: Cockaigne Concert Overture, op. 40; “In London Town,” Variations on an Original Theme, op. 36; “Enigma Variations,” Serenade for Strings, op. 20, Salut d’amour, op. 12, “Love’s Greeting” (Telarc)
1989++: Barber: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, op. 22; Britten: Symphony for Cello and Orchestra, op. 68, Yo-Yo Ma, cello (Sony Classical)
1988: Berlioz: Overture to Benvenuto Cellini, op. 23; “Love Scene” from Roméo et Juliette; “Minuet of the Will-o’-the-Wisps” from The Damnation of Faust; “Dance of the Sylphs” from The Damnation of Faust; “Rakóczy March” from The Damnation of Faust; Le Corsaire Overture; “Trojan March” from Les Troyens; “Royal Hunt and Storm” from Les Troyens, Sylvia McNair, soprano; Richard Leech, tenor; Boys from the Choir of St. Michael and All Angels; Boys from the Choir of St. David’s Episcopal Church; Baltimore Symphony Chorus (Telarc)
1984: Brahms (orchestrated/Schoenberg): Quartet for Piano Vox and Strings No. 1, op. 25, Vox
1982: Ravel: Alborada del gracioso; Rapsodie espagnole; Concerto in Piano Left Hand in D Major, Leon Fleisher, piano (Vanguard)
1981: Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, op. 78, “Organ” (Silverline)
1980: Respighi: Feste Romane; Pini di Roma (Vanguard)
(*2010 Grammy Nominee) (**2000 Grammy Nominee) (***1998 Grammy Nominee) (+1995 Two-time Grammy Award Winner) (++1990 Grammy Award Winner)
↑ For convenience, this article uses 'Baltimore SO' as the abbreviation for the orchestra, to avoid confusion with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra.