&ldquoAs Alsop faced the cellos and drew from them the most tremendously shaped phrases with every inflection of her baton, you were aware of being in the presence of greatness.&rdquo
26th September 2013

Marin Alsop leads historic Last Night of the Proms

LONDON — The Last Night of the Proms became a First Night for Women on Saturday when Marin Alsop walked onto the stage of the massive and festively adorned Royal Albert Hall and made a bit of history in this history-drenched country.

“A lot has been made of me being the first woman to conduct the Last Night,” Alsop told the crowd of about 6,000 inside the hall and masses more watching on giant screens in Hyde Park and locations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

She was cut off by a storm of cheers and applause before continuing: “I’m incredibly honored and proud, but I have to say it’s amazing that there can still be a first for women in 2013.”

That’s the message that Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Sao Paolo Symphony Orchestra, kept telling the British press in the days leading up to what is one of the most popular annual events on the culture calendar here.

She led the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra before her Baltimore appointment, and she is not a stranger to the Proms, having led her Brazilian orchestra there last summer and, in a much-praised performance of the Brahms Requiem, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment last month.

The conductor acknowledged her fond, longtime connection to British musicians and audiences in her Proms remarks. She also got in a nice plug for “my wonderful Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,” and used the occasion to advocate for education, urging that music and the arts be “front and center,” not “pushed to the sidelines.”

Tim Smith, The Baltimore sun