Marin Alsop to Stay On as Baltimore Symphomy Orchestra Music Director Until 2015

Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. (By Grant Leighton)
By Anne Midgette
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 5, 2009

When Marin Alsop was first announced as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as of the 2007-08 season, there was immediate public protest from some of the orchestra players for whom Alsop was not a first choice. That got the conductor's tenure off to a rocky start, but how times have changed. As Alsop prepared to conclude her second full season with the BSO, the orchestra announced yesterday that her initial three-year contract was being extended by five years -- through August 2015.

It's a positive statement for the orchestra to be able to make during a generally difficult period for the arts. But Baltimore under Alsop has had a lot of positive things to report. Having set out to win over the players, Alsop has continued to bring high energy, creativity and a high profile to the job, which has resulted in a sense of vitality throughout the organization. The BSO does a lot of interesting concerts, embraces living composers, experiments with different concert formats and has launched somegreat outreach programs, such as OrchKids, which puts instruments in the hands of an entire inner-city school class. Despite serious financial cutbacks, and even questions about Alsop's approach to some standard-repertory works, the BSO has had a strong couple of years.

"My work so far with the Baltimore Symphony has been the thrill of a lifetime," Alsop said in a statement yesterday. And the orchestra's president and chief executive, Paul Meecham, said, "She is that rare music director who generously gives as much to the improvement of the community and quality of life of our audiences as she gives to the music on stage."

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