&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
17th March 2016

Marin Alsop: Q&A with Eugene Symphony


On Saturday April 2, 2016, Marin Alsop will return to conduct the Eugene Symphony for “SymFest”, an evening celebrating the Orchestra’s 50th anniversary. Marin is Conductor Laureate of the Orchestra having served as Music Director in Eugene from 1989 until 1996.

Read what she had to say about her return in an exclusive Eugene Symphony Q&A:

What have you learned since your time as Music Director of Eugene that you look forward to sharing with the Eugene audience now?

MA: My work around the world has confirmed many of the things that I first learned or first actualized in Eugene: that every human being is hotwired for music; that everyone is musical; that people are super curious and really interested to know how classical music is created and what the process for bringing a concert to life really is; people are intrigued by the relationship between conductor and orchestra and love to see behind the scenes. These are things that I believed instinctively, but my time in Eugene allowed me to experiment with these ideas and find ways to access these truths and weave them into the relationship between orchestra and community. 

What were your favorite things to do in Eugene, outside the concert hall, during your time here?

MA: I enjoyed so many outdoor activities: lots of hiking (Spencer Butte, Mount Pisgah, Silver Falls); running and boating along the Willamette. I used to ski often in Bend.  I also loved the coast, especially Florence, and spent several long weekends exploring that area. But, while I loved the outdoors, I have to say that my favorite pastime was having coffee with my wonderful friends in Eugene, and that’s what I am looking forward to the most for this trip too!

One of the goals of SymFest is to attract a younger audience. What do you think the younger generation means to classical music? 

MA: I think it’s great that the ESO is looking at ways to engage younger audiences.  This has always been a concern for classical music lovers (even in 1930!) but today’s competition for young people’s time is truly formidable.  Having information and entertainment at our fingertips is an amazing asset, but sitting down with other human beings to experience a work of art is truly inspirational.  Everyone deserves to have access to that incredible experience and understand that live music is an amalgam of every single person’s energy in that concert hall.

What do the pieces on this concert program – Adams’s Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Mahler’s Adagio from Symphony No. 10, Bernstein’s Suite from On the Waterfront, and Johnson’s Victory Stride – mean to you? Are there any interesting/compelling/surprising facts about them that you’d like the Eugene audience to know?

MA: I selected all of these pieces because of some personal connection to Eugene:

John Adams was one of the visiting composers we invited and we played this piece early on in my tenure.

Mahler and Bernstein are key composers for me: I did a lot of Bernstein with the ESO and finished my tenure with his “MASS.” And it was my teacher, Leonard Bernstein’s connection to Mahler that brought me to revere Mahler.

And the Johnson piece was a discovery that I made born out of my love for American jazz. In 1992 my best friend, Leslie Stifelman, who helped me on many projects, and I unearthed the orchestral music of jazz great, James P. Johnson. I performed all of those works with the ESO at some point.

I can’t wait to see everyone and work with the musicians of the ESO again!

For more details and to read more about the pre and post-concert activities, visit the Eugene Symphony website.