Hearing Marin Alsop speak at the Mt. St. Agnes Lecture was absolutely amazing. Upon seeing her performance as the conductor at Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, I had not knows how much of an impact she has had on BSO and the city of Baltimore alone.
Alsop was born and raised in a strong musical household and her parents highly encouraged her to take up an instrument, and even more than one. Marin begin playing the violin and eventually realized she wanted to be a conductor when she was inspired by Leonard Bernstein. Alsop believed conducting looked like more fun because there would be nobody yelling at her and telling her what to do. In her early 20’s Alsop began and conducted her own orchestra with a group of friends, that she named Concordia. She was generously supported financially by a friend for may years following conducting for the first time at his wedding.
Marin Alsop arrived at the Baltimore Symphony with a fresh mind and plenty of ideas. However, she was not received with open arms. There was common misconception that was pointed out to Alsop that conducting is not something women do. Therefore, her position and ideas she had were not thrilling to the symphony nor welcomed. However, Alsop did not let their discontent stop her.
Alsop received the McArthur award and was granted $500,000 which she used to establish Orch-kids (Orchestra Kids) in 2008. The goal os Orch-kids is to integrate young children into music in the Baltimore City in an effort to provide structure and a good activity after school. In 2015, Alsop said there are almost 1,100 kids in the program and the goal is to have 10,000 by 2021. Alsop says that the 10,000 kids will touch every 80,000 children. Alsop said about the Orch-kid program, “Music is the vehicle for them to have the same sense of possibility that I had growing up.” Alsop is signed up to work with the BSO until 2021.
I really enjoyed hearing her speak. I think there’s a common misconception that hearing a orchestra conductor speak would be immensely boring, but Alsop had very entertaining stories and lines and kept the mood light For instance, when she was addressing the gender stereotype of a conductor and was told women don’t conduct, Alsop used the example of the gender stereotype of a pilot, and when brining up the topic of a cockpit she state “Who named it that anyway?” After hearing Alsop conduct at the Orchestra I was very glad I went and hear her speak, I did not know what a profound impact she has had in the BSO and in the city of Baltimore.