Sunday, June 10, 2007

She's Got a Baton and Knows How to Use It

She walks out in front of the crowd with assurance, bows briefly, steps up...and the magic begins. Marin Alsop has not even officially begun her tenure as the Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, but she's clearly not letting that stand in the way of showing what a woman with a baton can accomplish.

Today's BSO concert validated the decision to hire her that was controversial at the time, even - if you can believe the news stories - unpopular with some of the musicians in the orchestra. I never could understand why anyone would lament the departure of Yuri Temirkanov who spent as little time as possible in Baltimore, who never spoke to the audience, rarely spoke English for heaven's sake. Now we have this dynamic woman who is proving she can pull the orchestra together and get them bounding in her direction, making magnificent music the like of which the Meyerhoff hasn't heard since David Zinman left.

Elgar's Cello Concerto and Dvorak's symphony From the New World were today's offerings, the latter being recorded for a CD of Alsop leading the BSO. Watching her draw the music out with energy and emotion, and working without a score, was as much a pleasure as the glorious sounds themselves. I challenge any other symphony orchestra, anywhere, to better today's reading of the Dvorak. The standing, cheering audience would have given Alsop a fifth bow had she not drawn the Concert Master off with her on her fourth exit.

If anyone from the BSO is listening, you have finally regained the support of long-time season ticket holders who quit in disgust during Temirkanov's time. Thanks for having the guts to appoint the first woman to lead a major American orchestra. She's already proving you made a great choice.