2013 has been an extraordinary year for Marin Alsop, with highlights including becoming the first female to conduct the Last Night of the BBC Proms and taking her São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) on a major European tour.
View a selection of photo highlights on Marin’s new Flickr channel here.
The year kicked off in Baltimore with a film screening of the 1938 film by Sergei Eisenstein, Alexander Nevsky, with Prokofiev’s score played live by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Alexander Nevsky was part of the BSO’s celebration of film and music and Marin conducted the BSO in other successful performances throughout the year including Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times in May and Leonard Bernstein’s movie musical West Side Story in June.
February and March saw Marin return to London for two concerts with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Southbank Centre’s The Rest Is Noise festival, to critical acclaim. She also conducted the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in a programme of ‘Queens, Heroines and Ladykillers’. Taking place on International Women’s Day, the concert featured as part of the Women of the World (WOW) festival (6-10 March) at the Southbank Centre and saw her take part in the finale at the Royal Festival Hall entitled ‘Mirth Control’, curated by comedian Sandi Toksvig, with appearances by singer Petula Clark and comedian Sue Perkins.
On 18 April it was announced that Marin would conduct the 2013 Last Night of the BBC Proms, making history as the first female conductor to ever conduct the Last Night celebrations. In response to the announcement, Marin commented: “As an American, I am doubly excited to be invited to conduct the Last Night of the Proms, since it is such a quintessentially British occasion. I have felt at home from the first moment I conducted in the UK. I always enjoy working with the British orchestral musicians and I’m particularly looking forward to interacting with the audience, who play such a crucial role in making this a night that is utterly unique and special. It is a great honor that I know will be a highlight for me.”
Marin brought the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to Carnegie Hall, New York, in May to perform the opening concert at the 2013 Spring for Music Festival, one of five North American orchestras to be invited to play as part of this festival.
June saw Marin travel to Belgium to conduct the twelve finalists of the 2013 Queen Elisabeth Competition, this year devoted to the piano, at the Brussels Centre for Fine Arts. Then in July it was announced Marin had extended her contract with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra through to the 2020/21 season. Of her appointment and ongoing commitment to the Orchestra Marin said: “I am deeply grateful and excited for the opportunity to lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for several more years. This Orchestra’s artistic caliber coupled with their passion for music makes it my privilege to assume the podium each week.”
After recovering from a wrist injury over the Summer, Marin made her first performance at the 2013 BBC Proms in August, ahead of her much-anticipated appearance as conductor of the Last Night of the Proms in September. Marin conducted the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in a programme that included Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem. Click here to read the reviews.
Coinciding with the performance, Marin’s recording of Ein deutsches Requiem with the MDR Symphony Orchestra and Radio Choir (recorded at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig in April 2013) was released on Naxos. Click here to watch the video of Marin talking about the Naxos recording. Other CD releases followed this year with the second recording in her Prokofiev Symphonies cycle on Naxos with OSESP and a release of Kevin Puts Fourth Symphony with the BSO on Harmonia Mundi.
After a quick stop-off in Brazil at the end of August for concerts with OSESP and percussionist Colin Currie, Marin also conducted OSESP at the new concert hall in Rio de Janeiro for the first time, before flying to London for Last Night of the Proms preparations.
On 7th September Marin conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, as well as soloists Joyce DiDonato, Nigel Kennedy and Iestyn Davies at the Last Night of the BBC Proms in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Broadcast to millions of people on television, radio and online, the BBC’s big screens around Britain and around the world this was a historic occasion. Click here to read the reviews.
Giving the traditional Last Night speech Marin made some particularly inspiring comments directed at young people and aspiring women conductors, saying: “I want to say to the young women out there, and as I say to all young people out there, believe in yourselves, follow your passion and never give up because you will create a future filled with possibility.”
In October Marin took the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) on their most extensive European tour to date. Taking in Berlin’s Philharmonie, Paris’s Salle Pleyel, London’s Royal Festival Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus, plus three dates at the Salzburg Festival, the tour marked another exciting chapter for Marin and the Orchestra, having made history in 2012 when they became the first Brazilian orchestra to perform at the BBC Proms.
OSESP will celebrate their 60th anniversary next year and Marin reflects on the past season and the season ahead with enormous pride, commenting: “As we close our 2013 season and look forward to our 2014 celebration of the orchestra’s 60 year history, we have so much to celebrate! It was a stunning season at Sala Sao Paulo, with many high points, including the groundbreaking tribute program to Leonard Bernstein featuring Berio’s “Sinfonia” with the Swingle Singers… two special performances with the brilliant Nelson Freire and a sold out season closing program with Stravinky’s “Sacre du Printemps”, celebrating it’s 100th anniversary and Varese’s “Ameriques”… Our goals moving ahead are to build on all of OSESP’s initiatives and continue to present concerts of world class standard for our warm and enthusiastic audiences at home in Sao Paulo.”
Marin travelled back to Baltimore in November for a busy month of commitments with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Celebrating Benjamin Britten’s centenary, they performed Britten’s epic War Requiem. Talking to NPR Marin said: “Marking 100 years since the birth of Benjamin Britten, has been absolutely fascinating for me. I am now living proof that such centenaries can indeed change the way we look at a composer and provide us with opportunities to explore their breadth and depth. In Britten I have found a new hero, a musically surprising and multi-dimensional citizen of the world.”
Later that month OrchKids, the outreach program set up by Marin, was selected as a recipient of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Award at the White House. Click here to read the recent news story. Thanksgiving saw Marin conduct members from her Baltimore Orchestra and OrchKids at the Baltimore Ravens Thanksgiving Day game. Within 24 hours of performing at the M&T Bank Stadium for the Baltimore Ravens game, Marin was in Cleveland to conduct The Cleveland Orchestra in Copland, Barber and Schumann’s Piano Concerto with the pianist David Fray.
As the year draws to an end, Marin closed the OSESP season in spectacular style with a concert of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 on Gonzaga beach at Santos. Of this final concert of the year, Marin said: “How many orchestras in the world get to close their season with a concert for 20,000 people at the beach?! Even Stravinsky couldn’t have imagined Sacre on the beach, but what a great way to celebrate the centenary of his masterpiece, and the close of a truly amazing season that took us from Sao Paulo to Rio to Berlin. Thanks to my wonderful musicians whose playing and passion are inspiring. Happy New Year to everyone!”