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February 14, 2011

Marin Alsop named principal conductor of Sao Paulo orchestra, will remain with BSO

Marin Alsop, who is used to holding down more than one job at a time, has been named principal conductor of the Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra in Brazil.

Her five-year contract starts with the 2012-13 season and calls for 10 weeks of conducting each season.

Alsop, who succeeds Yan Pascal Tortelier in the Sao Paulo post, plans to remain as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which she joined in 2007.

She is slated to remain in the BSO post until 2015 and has been spending 14-16 weeks with the BSO per season. (During her first few years here, she was concurrently principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in England.)

In a press conference in Sao Paulo on Saturday (photo above), Alsop said her goal is

to make the Brazilian ensemble "the best orchestra in the world. That is always my goal." She guest-conducted the orchestra for the first time last September in performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 7.

Here's a statement from BSO president and CEO Paul Meecham:

We are elated and proud that Marin's commitment to artistic excellence, passion for engaging the community and spirit of innovation are in increasing demand worldwide ... Sao Paulo's artistic community is thriving and provides another fertile home for Marin's dynamic vision. And the wonderful thing is that, being in the Southern Hemisphere, [the orchestra's] winter/spring season is totally complementary to the BSO's schedule.


Posted by Tim Smith at 11:21 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: BSO, Clef Notes


I guess that Maestra Alsop is not being literal, because it is not logically possible for the BSO and the Sao Paulo Orchestra to both be the best in the world, although they could tie for the honor. It is interesting that she did Mahler 7 with the Sao Paulo Orchestra in September, because she did it with the BSO last September too. I wonder if anyone heard both and can compare. Well, Maestra Alsop did, but I bet that she's keeping mum. Or she'd say that both were best.

Congratulations to Marin Alsop, and best wishes for her tenure in São Paulo. I hope she will be proof against the cultural and political intrigues that brought about the departure of John Neschling from the OSESP post. The prospect of her giving us performances of the great orchestral works of Villa-Lobos is an exciting one.

She isn't fooling anyone. While it's winter in Baltimore, it's spring and summer in South America. Wait and see..she'll be doing her Sao Paulo stints during January to escape northeastern US winter weather. Can't say I blame her (altho it's really nice today).

Actually the standard orchestral season in Brazil typically runs from March or April through mid-December. So I doubt that Marin will be escaping Baltimore to conduct in Brazil in January or February because the players are on vacation.

Henry: Yes, Marin admitted that she tries to make very orchestra sound like the best in the world. But she is always in tune to the particularities, specalities, idiosyncracies of each orchestra. I'm sure she will make SPS the best in its way, as she does with the BSO, BSO, LPO, LSO.

I feel privileged to live in a time when someone like Marin Alsop continues to push the envelope for musical excellence and interpretation, and have those gifts extolled in Baltimore, Denver, and in South America. Precedent-setting and rule-breaking, Leonard Bernstein set the stage, and Alsop pursues it. How fortunate we all are. Her interpretation of the Rachmaninoff Second Symphony with the Colorado Symphony at the turn of the year was thrilling.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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