« Wolfgang Holzmair offers intense 'Winterreise' for Shriver Hall Concert Series | Main | Midweek Madness: A Viennese waltz to salute Kennedy Center festival »

February 28, 2012

Renee Fleming, John Waters, Claire Bloom, and Wagner spice BSO's 2012-13 season

From Renee Fleming to Claire Bloom and John Waters, from Wagner's "Ring" to a new symphony by Christopher Rouse and a lot of classic film scores, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's 2012-2013 season promises a notably diverse and interesting diet.

For her sixth season as BSO music director, Marin Alsop will zero in on several themes. Movie music is one, which explains why the season announcement was made Tuesday at the Charles Theater.

Alsop will conduct the orchestra in live soundtracks to three acclaimed films: Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times" (post-"The Artist," this presentation of a silent movie may be a bigger event than expected); Sergei Eisenstein's "Alexander Nevsky," with its gripping score by Prokofiev; and "West Side Story," the brilliant Leonard Bernstein musical. Bernstein's contribution to the movies will also be acknowledged with his Symphonic Suite from "On the Waterfront."

In another nod to cinema, the 25th anniversary of the kinetic Waters hit, "Hairspray," will be celebrated with a concert version of the musical it inspired. This event, part of the BSO SuperPops series and led by principal pops conductor Jack Everly, will feature Waters as narrator.

American music has been a priority of Alsop's from the start, and next season will contain a fair share. The conductor will give particular attention to ...

the Baltimore-based Rouse, giving the East Coast premiere of his Symphony No. 3, along with performances of three other Rouse scores.

Alsop will conduct back-to-back programs of American music to launch the subscription season. Repertoire includes Copland's Symphony No. 3 and Bernstein's response to President Kennedy's assassination, Symphony No. 3, "Kaddish," with the exceptional actress Claire Bloom as narrator.

The season will be dotted with contemporary works, among them John Adams' "Shaker Loops," which will be performed on a program with Jennifer Higdon's "Concerto 4-3" and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 4 that the BSO will also perform at Carnegie Hall. "Ansel Adams: America," a multimedia piece with music by Dave and Chris Brubeck, which the BSO commissioned in 2010, will be reprised.

The orchestra will add its voice to the global commemoration of the Wagner bicentennial in 2013. In addition to an orchestral synthesis of the "Ring" (arranged by Henk de Vlieger) and excerpts from "Tristan" and "Die Meistersinger," Alsop will conduct the complete Act 1 from "Die Walkure," with a cast that includes the superb bass-baritone Eric Owens.

The nod to Wagner will also include a semi-staged play with music, in the tradition of "Analyze This: Mahler and Freud" from last season. "A Composer Fit for a King," by writer/director Didi Balle, looks at the curious relationship of Wagner and his patron, "mad" King Ludwig II.

Fleming, one of the most gifted and popular sopranos of our time, starts the season off with a gala concert Sept. 15, conducted by Alsop (program to be announced).

The guest soloist roster for the rest of 2012-13 includes: pianists Garrick Ohlsson (Rachmaninoff 3rd), Stephen Hough (Liszt 2nd), Benedetto Lupo (Bartok 3rd), Jean-Philippe Collard (Saint-Saens 3rd) and Simon Trpceski (Rachmaninoff 4th); violinists Midori (Bartok 2nd) and Gil Shaham (Barber); and organist Felix Hell (Poulenc).

Guests on the BSO podium include Hannu Lintu in a program featuring Sibelius' Second Symphony; Juano Mena with Tchaikovsky's Fourth; Yan Pascal Tortelier, with Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" and Hindemith's Concert Music for Strings and Brass; Mario Venzago with Franck's D minor Symphony and Elgar's Cello Concerto (with Sol Gabetta); Ignat Solzhenitsyn with Mozart's Requiem and the BSO's first performance of "Tabula Rasa" by the mystic Estonian composer Arvo Part; and Carlos Kalmar, with Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" and a work by young Thai composer Narong Prangcharoen.

Greatest hits are woven through the season. Alsop will, for example, lead Beethoven's Fifth, Dvorak's Eighth, Brahms' Piano Concertto No. 2 (with Denis Kozhukhin), Saint-Saen's "Organ" Symphony, and Orff's "Carmina Burana." 

Mahler's Symphony No. 1 will be conducted by Christoph Konig in his BSO debut, Beethoven's "Eroica" by Markus Stenz, another BSO debut. Gilbert Varga will conduct Brahms' Symphony No. 1.

The season also offers several pieces that do not come around often, such as Schumann's Violin Concerto (with Kolja Blacher); Rachmaninoff's "Isle of the Dead" and some of his Etudes-Tableaux orchestrated by  Respighi (Alsop conducting); and Silvestre Revueltas' "Sensemaya" (Alsop).

In addition to "Hairspray," the SuperPops lineup for 2012-13 includes a music from James Bond movies, salutes to Motown and 1950s TV, a Broadway potpourri, a holiday program, and a concert by the Canadian Tenors.


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:53 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: BSO, Clef Notes, Marin Alsop


Looks like a fun season. I wonder if we'll ever see David Zinman conducting the BSO again.

For ages I was saying the same thing about Zinman. He supposedly stopped coming to Baltimore to protest the lack of American music during temirkanov's tenure. Now, with Temirkanov gone, what is his reason?

And Zinman may as well be the greatest American conductor since Bernstein (sorry MTT.)

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

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.
View the Artsmash blog

Baltimore Sun coverage
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop
Famous faces in classical music
Sign up for FREE entertainment alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Most Recent Comments
Stay connected