|Baltimore Symphony Orchestra|
|Concert hall||Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall|
|Principal conductor||(post vacant)|
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra based in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore SO has its principal residence at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where it performs more than 130 concerts a year. In 2005, it began regular performances at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda.
The most recent music director of the Baltimore SO was Marin Alsop, the first female conductor in the post, from 2007 to 2021. The current artistic advisor of the orchestra is James Conlon, as of the 2021-2022 season.
Founded in 1916, the Baltimore SO is the only major American orchestra originally established as a branch of the municipal government. Reorganized as a private institution in 1942, it maintains close relationships with the governments and communities of the city and surrounding counties, as well as with the State of Maryland.
The Baltimore SO's modern history dates from 1965, when Baltimore arts patron Joseph Meyerhoff became president of the Orchestra, a position he held for 18 years. Meyerhoff appointed Romanian-born conductor Sergiu Comissiona as music director. Other music directors have included Yuri Temirkanov, music director from 2000–2006, who subsequently took the title of music director emeritus.
In September 2007, Alsop became the 12th music director of the Baltimore SO, having served as music director-designate for the 2006–2007 concert season. The 2005 announcement of her appointment caused controversy, over reports that the orchestra players statements that they had not had enough voice in the search process. The orchestra and Alsop met after the announcement and smoothed over some of their differences. Alsop's contract was subsequently extended in 2009 and in 2013. In February 2020, the Baltimore SO announced that Alsop is to conclude her music directorship of the orchestra at the close of the 2020–2021 season, and subsequently to take the title of music director laureate.
In 2016, the Baltimore SO appointed Tonya McBride Robles as vice president and general manager. In February 2017, Peter T. Kjome became president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the orchestra. During the summer of 2019, the orchestra musicians were locked out, where the labour problems under discussion included the continuing status of the orchestra as a 52-weeks-per-year ensemble. In September 2020, the most recent contract agreement between management and musicians affirmed the 52-weeks-per-year status of the musicians, with pay reductions in the wake of financial losses partly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2021, the orchestra announced that Kjome is to stand down as its president and CEO after the close of his contract in January 2022.
In November 2020, the orchestra announced the appointment of James Conlon as its artistic advisor, effective with the 2021–2022 season, for a period of three seasons, an unusual appointment in that Conlon had not conducted the orchestra prior to this announcement. Conlon conducted his first concert with the orchestra in October 2021. The orchestra's current additional conducting staff is as follows:
Anthony Parker is the current artistic partner of the orchestra.
The Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall has been the home of the Baltimore SO since its opening on September 16, 1982. Named for businessman and philanthropist Joseph Meyerhoff, the 2,443-seat hall has undergone renovations in 1990 and again in 2001.
The orchestra's second home is the 1,976-seat Music Center at Strathmore, located in North Bethesda, Maryland. With the opening of the Music Center at Strathmore in February 2005, the Baltimore Symphony became the nation's first orchestra with year-round venues in two metropolitan areas. As the founding partner and resident orchestra of the Music Center, the Baltimore SO presents 35 performances in the concert hall annually.
In addition to its Baltimore and Strathmore residencies, the orchestra regularly performs in Frederick, its longest continuing run-out concert series, as well as at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has commissioned several works from American composers, which include:
In 1987, the Baltimore SO and its then-music director David Zinman undertook a concert tour of Europe and the Soviet Union. The Baltimore SO was the first American orchestra in 11 years to tour the Soviet Union after cultural relations resumed towards the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Under Zinman the orchestra made its first visits to Chicago and the Midwest in 1990 and to East Asia in 1994, with subsequent East Asia tours in 1997 and 2002. The Baltimore SO has often appeared at Carnegie Hall, including a February 2008 concert with the New York premiere of Steven Mackey's percussion concerto Time Release with soloist Colin Currie.
The Baltimore SO performs approximately 30 education concerts and open rehearsals each year for more than 60,000 area students in pre-school through 12th grade. Cornerstone initiatives include 'BSO on the Go', a program that brings small groups of Baltimore SO musicians into schools for interactive music education workshops at no cost to the schools, and 'Side-by-Side' concerts, which allow student musicians to rehearse and perform a full-length concert alongside Baltimore SO musicians. Rusty Musicians, a program geared towards adult amateur musicians, allows participants to join the Baltimore SO and perform under its conductor.
In May 2008, the Baltimore SO began OrchKids, an after-school program to provide music experience and education for youth in Baltimore City's low-income neighborhoods. In collaboration with community partners, it provides music education, instruments, meals and mentorship at no cost to the participants. OrchKids serves more than 400 students from pre-K through fifth grade at Lockerman Bundy Elementary School, New Song Academy, Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School and Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School. OrchKids maintains a faculty of 27 professional working/teaching musicians and academy classroom teachers. Business and community partners include Baltimore City Public Schools, The Peabody Institute, Baltimore School for the Arts, The Family League of Baltimore, University of Maryland Baltimore County and others. Lead funding support was provided by initial gifts of $100,000 from Marin Alsop and $1,000,000 from Rheda Becker and Robert Meyerhoff.
The BSO Academy is an annual intensive week-long study program that helps amateur musicians improve the skills through learning and performance with the BSO and its conductor. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided leadership support for the BSO Academy since 2012.
Geared towards adult amateur musicians, "Rusty Musicians with the BSO" is a programme where for one evening, amateur musicians are invited to join members of the Baltimore SO on stage to rehearse and perform selected repertoire led by Marin Alsop. The first "Rusty Musicians" event was at Strathmore in February 2010, with more than 400 amateur musicians participating. The program was repeated at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in September 2010 with nearly 300 adult amateur participants.
The Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras (BSYO), formerly known as the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra, came under the umbrella of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2012. It is made up of three different ensembles, categorized by age group and experience: the String Orchestra, the Concert Orchestra, and the Youth Orchestra. The BSYO performs at the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The BSYO is led by artistic director Nicholas Hersh, who also conducts the Youth Orchestra. The String Orchestra is under the baton of Wesley Thompson, and the Concert Orchestra is led by MaryAnn Poling.
(*2010 Grammy Nominee) (**2000 Grammy Nominee) (***1998 Grammy Nominee) (+1995 Two-time Grammy Award Winner) (++1990 Grammy Award Winner)