Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

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The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is a professional American symphony orchestra based in Baltimore, Maryland internationally recognized as having achieved a prominent place among the worlds most important orchestras. The BSOs home is the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where it performs more than 130 concerts a year. In 2005, it opened a second center, the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda.

In 2007, Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestras 12th music director, the first woman to head a major American orchestra.


Founded in 1916, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is the only major American orchestra originally established as a branch of the municipal government. Reorganized as a private institution in 1942, it maintains close relationships with the governments and communities of the city and surrounding counties, as well as with the State of Maryland.

The BSO's modern history dates from 1965, when Baltimore arts patron Joseph Meyerhoff became president of the Orchestra, a position he held for 18 years. Meyerhoff appointed Romanian-born conductor Sergiu Comissiona as music director.


Since 2006, the BSO has been under the leadership of President & CEO Paul Meecham. Joining Alsop on the BSO conductor roster are Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly, and BSO Music Director Emeritus Yuri Temirkanov, who served as Music Director from 2000-2006.

Concert Halls/Performance Venues

Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

The Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall has been the home of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since its opening on September 16, 1982. Named for the Baltimore philanthropist and former BSO president, Joseph Meyerhoff, the 2,443-seat hall has received generally favorable reviews on its opening; the performers however found it unsatisfactory for multiple reasons, and it has since been modified in 1990 and again in 2001, to improve the sound heard by the performers on stage .[1]

The Music Center at Strathmore

The Orchestra's second home is the 1,976-seat Music Center at Strathmore, located in North Bethesda, Maryland. With the opening of the Music Center at Strathmore in February 2005, the Baltimore Symphony became the nation's first orchestra with year-round venues in two metropolitan areas. As the founding partner and resident orchestra of the Music Center, the BSO presents 35 performances in the concert hall annually.

Notable Premieres

The BSO has left a significant footprint on 20th- and 21st-century music with its commissions and co-commissions. Recent global or North American premieres by the group have included the first symphony of Christopher Rouse, a John Adams saxophone concerto, Philip Glass' Overture for 2012 and a Jonathan Leshnoff concerto written for guitarist Manuel Barrueco.

Music Directors

  • Current BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellow Alexandra Arrieche


In 1987, the Orchestra led by David Zinman conducted a critically acclaimed concert tour of Europe and the Soviet Union. The BSO was the first American orchestra in 11 years to tour the Soviet Union after cultural relations resumed towards the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

In Alsops fifth season, the BSO made its first West Coast tour since 1988 from March 28 to April 2, 2012, and its first domestic tour since 2000 (excluding previous Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center engagements). The Orchestra traveled to Orange County to perform at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County (Costa Mesa, Ca.), to the Silva Concert Hall of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts (Eugene, Or.) and gave a three-day education and performance residency at the Zellerbach Hall presented by Cal Performances of the University of California (Berkeley.).

The BSO's first visit to East Asia in 1994 was described as the hit of Tokyo's star-filled concert season. The newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun proclaimed the BSO as "the best of all the overseas orchestras" that performed in Japan during that year, in a field that included the Berlin, Vienna and New York philharmonics. A second tour followed during in 1997 with violin soloist Isaac Stern., and a third in 2002. Yuri Temirkanov and the BSO embarked on a European tour in 2001, followed by one in 2005.

The BSO maintains a regular performance presence at Carnegie Hall. In February 2008, the Orchestra performed a program at Carnegie that featured the New York premiere of Steve Mackey's Time Release with Scottish percussionist, Colin Currie. In October 2008, as part of Carnegie's year-long festival celebrating the legacy of Leonard Bernstein, the BSO performed the late composer's large scale work, Mass: A Theatre Piece for Players, Singers and Dancers.

Through year-round performances at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore and The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, the BSO serves as a cultural resource to the entire State of Maryland. The BSO regularly performs in Frederick, the BSO's longest continuing run-out concert series, as well as at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills.

Community Outreach

The BSO performs approximately 30 education concerts and open rehearsals each year for more than 60,000 area students in pre-school through 12th grade. Cornerstone initiatives include BSO on the Go, a program that brings small groups of BSO musicians into schools for interactive music education workshops at no cost to the schools, and Side-by-Side concerts, which allow student musicians to rehearse and perform a full-length concert alongside BSO musicians. The BSO also serves adult music lovers through audience education programs such as pre-concert lectures and post-concert discussions. Rusty Musicians, a program geared towards adult amateur musicians, allows participants to join the BSO and perform under its conductor.


In May 2008, the BSO unveiled OrchKids, an after-school program to provide music experience and education for youth in Baltimore Citys low-income neighborhoods. Under OrchKids Director of Artistic Programing Dan Trahey and in collaboration with community partners, it provides music education, instruments, meals and mentorship at no cost to the participants OrchKids serves more than 400 students from pre-K through fifth grade at Lockerman Bundy Elementary School, New Song Academy, Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School and Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School. OrchKids maintains a faculty of 27 professional working/teaching musicians and academy classroom teachers. Business and community partners include Baltimore City Public Schools, The Peabody Institute, Baltimore School for the Arts, The Family League of Baltimore, University of Maryland Baltimore County and others. Lead funding support was provided by initial gifts of $100,000 from Marin Alsop and $1,000,000 from Rheda Becker and Robert Meyerhoff.

BSO Academy

The BSO Academy is an annual intensive week-long study program that helps amateur musicians improve the skills through learning and performance with the BSO and its conductor.[3]

In Summer 2012, the BSO Academy convened for eight days for orchestra rehearsals, sectionals, performance sessions, master classes and personal lessons and lectures, all held at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA). At the conclusion of the program, musicians performed in a full orchestra finale concert.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided leadership support for the BSO Academy since 2012.

Rusty Musicians

Geared towards adult amateur musicians, "Rusty Musicians with the BSO" is a unique side-by-side experience with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. For one evening, amateur musicians are invited to join members of the BSO on stage to rehearse and perform selected repertoire led by Music Director Marin Alsop. During the first "Rusty Musicians with the BSO" held at the Music Center at Strathmore in February 2010, more than 400 amateur musicians performed with members of the Orchestra. The program was repeated at the BSO's Baltimore venue, the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, in September 2010 with nearly 300 adult amateur participants.


  • XM Satellite Radio: Hosted by XM Classics 110 Program Director Martin Goldsmith, each program features a full-length BSO concert conducted by Marin Alsop, as well as behind-the-scenes interviews with Alsop and guest artists.
  • iTunes Clueless About Classical': Hosted by Marin Alsop, these podcasts take novice listeners behind-the-scenes with the BSO, exploring repertoire, composers, musical concepts and orchestra life.
  • 'NPRs "Weekend Edition" with Scott Simon: Maestra Alsop is a regular guest with her segment "Marin Alsop on Music."
  • NPR's Performance Today: Concerts broadcast across the U.S.
  • American Public Media's SymphonyCast: Concerts broadcast across the U.S.


  • 2012: Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta; Concerto for Orchestra (Naxos)
  • 2012: Mahler: Symphony No. 1, Titan (Naxos)
  • 2010: Dvoák: Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60; Nocturne in B major, Op. 40, Scherzo capriccioso, Op. 66 - 15:04 (Naxos)
  • 2010: Dvoáks Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, op. 70; Symphony No. 8 in G Major, op. 88 (Naxos)
  • 2010: Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Concerto in F Major, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano (Decca)
  • 2009*: Bernstein: Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers (Naxos)
  • 2009: Mark OConnor: Americana Symphony; Variations on Appalachia Waltz (OMAC Records)
  • 2008: Dvoák: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, From the New World; Symphonic Variations, op. 78 (Naxos)
  • 2007: Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (iTunes)
  • 2007: John Corigliano: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, The Red Violin, Joshua Bell, violin (Sony Classical)
  • 2004: Ives: They are there!; Three Places in New England; Holidays, Baltimore Symphony Chorus (Decca)
  • 2000: Adolphus Hailstork: Intrada; Done Made My Vow; An American Fanfare; I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (NPR /BSO)
  • 1999**: Beethoven: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, op. 61; Serenade for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion, Hilary Hahn, violin (Sony Classical)
  • 1998: John Tavener: The Protecting Veil; Wake Upand Die, Yo-Yo Ma, cello (Sony Classical)
  • 1997: Gershwin: Concerto in F; Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major, Hélène Grimaud, piano (Erato Disques)
  • 1997***: Barber: Violin Concerto; Bloch: Baal Shem; Walton: Violin Concerto, Joshua Bell, violin (Argo/London)
  • 1997: Bernstein: Candide Overture, Symphonic Dances from West Side Story; Fancy Free, Facsimile (Argo/London)
  • 1996: Michael Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony, Bizarro (Argo/London)
  • 1995: Glinka: Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla; Ippolitov-Ivanov: Caucasian Sketches, op. 10; Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture, op. 36; Tchaikovsky: Francesca da Rimini, op. 32; Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, (Telarc)
  • 1995: Bernstein: Mambo from West Side Story: John Adams in The Chairman Dances; Aaron Jay Kernis in New Era Dance; David Schiff in Stomp; Libby Larsen in Collage-Boogie; John Harbison in Remembering Gatsby; Michael Torke in Charcoal, Robert Moran in Points of Departure; Dominick Argento in Tango from The Dream of Valentin; Michael Daugherty in Desi; Christopher Rouse in Bonham (Decca)
  • 1994: Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 3, op. 44; Symphonic Dances, op. 45 (Telarc)
  • 1994: Copland: Rodeo; El salón México; Danzón Cubano; Billy the Kid (Argo/London)
  • 1994+: Albert: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra; Bartók: Concerto for Viola and Orchestra; Bloch: Hebraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra, Schelomo, Yo-Yo Ma, cello (Sony Classical)
  • 1992: Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2, op. 27; Vocalise op. 34, no. 14 from Fourteen Songs, Sylvia McNair, soprano (Telarc)
  • 1992: Barber: Adagio for Strings Overture to The School for Scandal, op. 5; First Essay for Orchestra, op. 12; Music for a Scene from Shelley, op. 7; Second Essay for Orchestra, op. 17; Symphony No. 1, op. 9 (Argo/London)
  • 1992: Elgar: Symphony No. 1, op. 55; Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches Nos. 1 and 2, op. 39 (Telarc)
  • 1992: Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 1; Phantasmata (Nonesuch)
  • 1991: Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite (1919 version); Petrushka (1947 version); Fireworks, op. 4 (Telarc)
  • 1991: Michael Torke: Green; Purple; Ecstatic Orange; Ash; Bright Blue Music (Argo/London)
  • 1991: Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture, op. 9; Les Francs-Juges Overture, op. 3; Symphonie fantastique, op. 14 (Telarc)
  • 1991: Schumann: Symphony No. 2, op. 61; Symphony No. 3, op. 97, Rhenish (Telarc)
  • 1991: Britten: Diversions for Piano Left Hand and Orchestra; Laderman: Concerto for Orchestra, Leon Fleisher, piano (Phoenix USA)
  • 1990: Tchaikovsky: Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, op. 23; Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43, Horacio Gutiérrez, piano (Telarc)
  • 1990: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, op. 36; Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy (Telarc)
  • 1990: Schumann: Symphony No. 1, op. 38; Spring, Symphony No. 4, op. 120 (Telarc)
  • 1989: Elgar: Cockaigne Concert Overture, op. 40; In London Town, Variations on an Original Theme, op. 36; Enigma Variations, Serenade for Strings, op. 20, Salut damour, op. 12, Loves Greeting (Telarc)
  • 1989++: Barber: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, op. 22; Britten: Symphony for Cello and Orchestra, op. 68, Yo-Yo Ma, cello (Sony Classical)
  • 1988: Berlioz: Overture to Benvenuto Cellini, op. 23; Love Scene from Roméo et Juliette; Minuet of the Will-o-the-Wisps from The Damnation of Faust; Dance of the Sylphs from The Damnation of Faust; Rakóczy March from The Damnation of Faust; Le Corsaire Overture; Trojan March from Les Troyens; Royal Hunt and Storm from Les Troyens, Sylvia McNair, soprano; Richard Leech, tenor; Boys from the Choir of St. Michael and All Angels; Boys from the Choir of St. Davids Episcopal Church; Baltimore Symphony Chorus (Telarc)
  • 1984: Brahms (orchestrated/Schoenberg): Quartet for Piano Vox and Strings No. 1, op. 25, Vox
  • 1982: Ravel: Alborada del gracioso; Rapsodie espagnole; Concerto in Piano Left Hand in D Major, Leon Fleisher, piano (Vanguard)
  • 1981: Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, op. 78, Organ (Silverline)
  • 1980: Respighi: Feste Romane; Pini di Roma (Vanguard)

(*2010 Grammy Nominee) (**2000 Grammy Nominee) (***1998 Grammy Nominee) (+1995 Two-time Grammy Award Winner) (++1990 Grammy Award Winner)


  1. Leo Beranek, "Concert Halls and Opera Houses" 2nd ed. NY:Springer, 2007 ISBN 0-387-95524-0 p.33-46.
  2. History – Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
  3. Wakin, Daniel J. "Band Camp for Grown-Ups," The New York Times, Sunday, July 15, 2012.


  • Spencer, William (1994). The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, 1965-1982: the Meyerhoff years (D.M.A. dissertation), Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.
  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Principal Trumpet Players

External links

  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra official site
  • Marin Alsop official site
  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians site
  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra discography at Sony BMG Masterworks
  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra discography at NAXOS
  • Art of the States: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
This page was last modified 10.02.2014 11:43:45

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