&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
21st June 2013

Marin Alsop on the Last Night of the Proms

The Proms has a very special and unique atmosphere. I had the wonderful experience of making my debut (and return) at the Proms with the Bournemouth Symphony when I was principal conductor and was really moved by the enthusiasm of the audiences and the sense of occasion we all shared. Having the opportunity to bring the São Paulo Symphony last summer was very exciting. The public response, including waving Brazilian flags, was fantastic and my musicians were over the moon.

Conducting the Last Night of the Proms is a real honour. I have loved working in the UK from the very first moment I appeared with the London Symphony Orchestra in the ‘90s. British musicians have an incredible work ethic and genuine passion for what they do – and all with a great sense of humour! This is, for me, an ideal environment. My experience with British audiences has been very warm and enthusiastic and the UK has always felt like a second home.

I worked with Roger Wright to create a varied programme that would bring our two worlds together, paying tribute to my teacher and mentor Leonard Bernstein while drawing upon the richness of British music through the works of Britten and Vaughan Williams. It is also an important anniversary for Verdi and Wagner, so there is much to celebrate! The challenge I encountered was having to pare down the selections. My Last Night programme could have easily lasted four hours, but don’t worry: I think we managed to find a good balance!

The programme also includes a world premiere – Masquerade by Anna Clyne. I think Anna is the real deal. I have performed many of her works and invited her repeatedly to attend my Cabrillo Festival of contemporary music. We also have solo contributions from mezzo-soprano Joyce Di Donato and violinist Nigel Kennedy, too. I feel so fortunate to be collaborating with these two exceptional, unique, high-voltage artists. The word that comes to my mind for both of them is: dynamite!


This interview is from the July 2013 issue of Gramophone.