The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra issued a strong statement on its future recently by performing a concert of music written by a 19th century Russian composer, a 30-year-old English woman and a young American Black composer who actually was the soloist of the evening. The conductor was Jonathon Heyward, the new conductor-designate for the orchestra who officially takes his position in the fall (”BSO receives $500,000 state grant to put on free or low-cost concerts in eight Maryland counties this summer,” May 4).
The audience reflected this diversity as well, and for the first time, the Baltimore Symphony was an orchestra for all of Baltimore. It’s taken a little over 100 years for this to occur. The new management of the BSO, headed by Mark Hanson, who came here a year ago from his position as president of the San Francisco Symphony, has retooled the administrative and creative staff to more effectively represent all of Baltimore.
The concert was the culmination of a week’s worth of activities that included the 15th anniversary concert by OrchKids, an organization founded by Marin Alsop in 2008 when she served as the BSO’s musical director. This in-school program has grown from one school and 30 students to seven schools and 1,800 students during its existence.
And, finally, the music was spectacular, reflecting the skills of the new conductor and the support of the staff and patrons of the BSO. It’s a new era in the arts scene in Baltimore, and all members of our population should know that the quality and creative energy have succeeded most admirably in bringing together the multiracial and ethnic diversity that makes this city so challenging on one hand and so refreshing in its new success.
— Bill Nerenberg, Towson
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