Baltimore arts groups start to reopen doors to public; BSO plans festival honoring music director Marin Alsop

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will hold a three-month mostly virtual “Marin Festival” in the spring of 2021 celebrating Marin Alsop’s 14-year tenure as music director.

Like crocuses sending up their vibrantly colored buds after a tough winter, some Baltimore arts groups are reopening to the public for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic descended on Maryland nearly a year ago.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announced Tuesday that it will stage two free outdoor community concerts in June conducted by outgoing music director Marin Alsop. The concerts (on June 5 in the blocks around Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and on June 12 on the grounds of the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda) will be the first time that the BSO has performed before a live audience in 15 months.


The Walters Art Museum will reopen to the public March 17 with new artworks on display after a nearly three-month hiatus caused by spiking COVID-19 infection rates around the holidays. When the galleries reopen at 25% capacity, on view will be four new small exhibitions, including one of new acquisitions and another featuring two masterpieces by the 16th century painter known as “El Greco” and the Italian Renaissance painter Raphael.

And the Enoch Pratt Free Library will reopen 21 of its 22 branches on Monday at 25% capacity to readers wishing to browse the shelves in person after nine months of offering primarily sidewalk pickups. The only branch that will remain shuttered is the Hampden branch, which is being renovated. Usage of library computers — an invaluable resource for city residents who lack internet service in their homes — will resume as well, though sessions will be limited to two hours.


“We are excited to welcome customers back into our buildings,” Pratt Library President and CEO Heidi Daniel said in a news release. “We know the people of Baltimore depend on the wide variety of services the Pratt provides.”

Other performing groups have previously announced plans to resume live performances in the fall.

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The BSO also announced Tuesday that it will hold a “Marin Festival” of virtual performances celebrating Alsop’s 14-year tenure at the BSO’s helm. When she took the podium for the first time as the BSO’s music director in 2007, Alsop became the first woman to lead a major American orchestra.

The festival will highlight different ways in which Alsop has made her mark on the BSO and on Baltimore, from her commitment to new music, her championing of female artists and the founding of OrchKids, an after-school program that provides free music lessons to at-risk students and aims to achieve social change.

“The Marin Festival” will culminate in a virtual gala June 19 when Alsop conducts the orchestra in her final performance as music director. The celebrated soprano Renée Fleming will perform. Details can be found at

”With genius, humanity and vision, Marin has led both on and off the podium, raising the standard for how the BSO uses the power of music to change lives,” BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome said in a news release.

But not all venues that offer live performances in the city have been allowed to reopen — and those that have been excluded aren’t happy about it.

Scott issued an order Jan. 22 permitting indoor recreation establishments in the city to reopen at 25% capacity, except for strip clubs and hookah and cigar lounges.


The Penthouse Club filed suit in federal court Friday against Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and the City Council. The suit asks a judge to lift the ban against adult entertainment during the pandemic, saying it violates free speech.