NEW YORK -- Carnegie Hall put out the purple Monday night to welcome the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for the opening of Spring For Music, a week-long festival showcasing American orchestras playing adventurous programs. Ravens-colored cloths adorned the seat backs of the musicians’ chairs and the conductor’s podium; more cloths were handed out to audience members to wave on cue in a salute to Baltimore.
That cue came before the music started when an announcer from local radio station WQXR interviewed the BSO’s high-profile booster, Gov. Martin O’Malley, onstage. O’Malley praised the orchestra for the way it “gives so much back to the community” through its OrchKids project and other educational work. The governor, who has a sideline in the Celtic group O’Malley’s March, got laughs when, asked if he was a musician himself, replied that “the people in the band I play with are.” And he received an ovation from the audience and orchestra alike when he stressed the importance of “raising our children to appreciate the arts.”
BSO music director Marin Alsop then made her entrance to hearty cheers to launch the program with John Adams’ minimalist classic “Shaker Loops.” The program, played last week in Baltimore and Bethesda, also included a rarely performed symphony by Sergei Prokofiev and a bluegrass-infused concerto by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon featuring the trio Time for Three.