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BSO's Marin Alsop breaks Davos glass ceiling

Baltimore Symphony's send-off concert with music director Marin Alsop, an event for subscribers before the orchestra heads to the U.K. on tour. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)

There’s a lot of news recently about the World Economic Forum, particularly the men who admitted there to being afraid to mentor women in the #MeToo era. What we should be hearing about from the Davos, Switzerland, forum, however, is the breaking the glass ceiling story that also happens to be a good Baltimore tale.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director, Marin Alsop, received the prestigious Crystal Award at Davos and used the opportunity to promote the BSO and its OrchKids program. The award celebrates achievements of artists and cultural figures whose leadership inspires inclusive and sustainable change.

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Also receiving the award were Haifaa Al-Mansour and Sir David Attenborough: Haifaa Al-Mansour, for her leadership in cultural transformation in the Arab world as the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia; Sir David Attenborough, for his leadership in environmental stewardship through his more than six decades of television.

Maestra Alsop’s award is for her leadership in championing diversity in music. The award noted that she “is one of the greatest conductors of our time. Earlier this year she was the first woman to be appointed Chief Conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and, in 2013, was the first woman in 118 years to conduct the BBC’s ‘Last Night of the Proms’. She has tirelessly endeavored to provide opportunities for all people to access music for a world where diversity in classical music is the exception. In Baltimore she launched the ‘OrchKids’ programme to serve the city’s less privileged children, and the BSO Academy and Rusty Musicians for adult amateur musicians.”

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Maestra Alsop participated on panels with other outstanding women such as Rebecca Blumenstein, deputy managing editor of the New York Times; Michelle Bachelet, United Nations high commissioner for human rights; and HRH Princess Nane Annan, Kofi Annan's widow and Kofi Annan Foundation co-founder. Moreover, she spent time putting forth her Baltimore agenda with the heads of foundations such as Microsoft and Hilton Philanthropies.

Here at home the BSO faces a several difficult issues. But we should be proud of its highly successful European tour this summer and the good news from Davos about its director.

Rheda Becker and Mark K. Joseph are longtime supporters of the BSO and OrchKids.

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