Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Concert hallJoseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Principal conductorMarin Alsop

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra[1] 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.

Marin Alsop is the Baltimore SO's current music director since 2007, the first female conductor in the post.


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.

Beginning February 2017, Peter T. Kjome serves as the president and CEO. The Baltimore SO's Principal Pops Conductor is Jack Everly. Yuri Temirkanov, music director from 2000–2006, now has the title of music director emeritus. The orchestra's current BSO-Peabody conducting fellow is Michael Repper. In 2016, the BSO appointed Tonya McBride Robles as vice president and general manager.[2]

Concert halls/performance venues[edit]

Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall[edit]

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.[3]

The Music Center at Strathmore[edit]

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.

Notable premieres[edit]

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has commissioned several works from American composers, which include:

Music Directors[edit]


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.

Community Outreach[edit]

The BSO 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 BSO 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 BSO musicians. Rusty Musicians, a program geared towards adult amateur musicians, allows participants to join the BSO and perform under its conductor.


In May 2008, the BSO 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 OrchKids program aspires to provide Baltimore City's children tools to expand their opportunities for creativity, self-expression, cooperative learning, teamwork, academic success and self-esteem.[11]

BSO Academy[edit]

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.[12] The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided leadership support for the BSO Academy since 2012.

Rusty Musicians[edit]

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.

Youth Orchestra[edit]

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.[13][14] 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.


  • XM Satellite Radio: Hosted by XM Classics 110 Program Director Martin Goldsmith, each program features a full-length BSO concert conducted by Marin Alsop, as well as behind-the-scenes interviews with Alsop and guest artists.
  • iTunes Clueless About Classical: Hosted by Marin Alsop, these podcasts take novice listeners behind-the-scenes with the BSO, exploring repertoire, composers, musical concepts and orchestra life.
  • 'NPR’s "Weekend Edition" with Scott Simon: Alsop is a regular guest with her segment "Marin Alsop on Music."
  • NPR's Performance Today: Concerts broadcast across the U.S.
  • American Public Media's SymphonyCast: Concerts broadcast across the U.S.


  • 2017: Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet, Op. 64 (Naxos)
  • 2012: Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta; Concerto for Orchestra (Naxos)[15]
  • 2012: Mahler: Symphony No. 1, Titan (Naxos)[16]
  • 2010: Dvořák: Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60; Nocturne in B major, Op. 40, Scherzo capriccioso, Op. 66 - 15:04 (Naxos)[17]
  • 2010: Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 in D minor, op. 70; Symphony No. 8 in G major, op. 88 (Naxos)[18]
  • 2010: Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Concerto in F Major, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano (Decca)
  • 2009*: Bernstein: Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers (Naxos)[19]
  • 2009: Mark O’Connor: Americana Symphony; Variations on Appalachia Waltz (OMAC Records)
  • 2008: Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, From the New World; Symphonic Variations, op. 78 (Naxos)[20]
  • 2007: Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (iTunes)[21]
  • 2007: John Corigliano: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, The Red Violin, Joshua Bell, violin (Sony Classical)[22]
  • 2004: Ives: They are there!; Three Places in New England; Holidays, Baltimore Symphony Chorus (Decca)
  • 2000: Adolphus Hailstork: Intrada; Done Made My Vow; An American Fanfare; I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (NPR /BSO)
  • 1999**: Beethoven: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, op. 61; Serenade for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion, Hilary Hahn, violin (Sony Classical)
  • 1998: John Tavener: The Protecting Veil; Wake Up…and Die, Yo-Yo Ma, cello (Sony Classical)
  • 1997: Gershwin: Concerto in F; Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major, Hélène Grimaud, piano (Erato Records)
  • 1997***: Barber: Violin Concerto; Bloch: Baal Shem; Walton: Violin Concerto, Joshua Bell, violin (Argo/London)
  • 1997: Bernstein: Candide Overture, "Symphonic Dances" from West Side Story; Fancy Free, Facsimile (Argo/London)
  • 1996: Michael Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony, Bizarro (Argo/London)
  • 1995: Glinka: Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla; Ippolitov-Ivanov: Caucasian Sketches, op. 10; Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture, op. 36; Tchaikovsky: Francesca da Rimini, op. 32; “Polonaise” from Eugene Onegin, (Telarc)
  • 1995: Bernstein: “Mambo” from West Side Story: John Adams in The Chairman Dances; Aaron Jay Kernis in New Era Dance; David Schiff in Stomp; Libby Larsen in Collage-Boogie; John Harbison in Remembering Gatsby; Michael Torke in Charcoal, Robert Moran in Points of Departure; Dominick Argento in “Tango” from The Dream of Valentin; Michael Daugherty in Desi; Christopher Rouse in Bonham (Decca)
  • 1994: Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 3, op. 44; Symphonic Dances, op. 45 (Telarc)
  • 1994: Copland: Rodeo; El salón México; Danzón Cubano; Billy the Kid (Argo/London)
  • 1994+: Albert: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra; Bartók: Concerto for Viola and Orchestra; Bloch: Hebraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra, “Schelomo,” Yo-Yo Ma, cello (Sony Classical)
  • 1992: Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2, op. 27; “Vocalise” op. 34, no. 14 from Fourteen Songs, Sylvia McNair, soprano (Telarc)
  • 1992: Barber: Adagio for Strings’ Overture to The School for Scandal, op. 5; First Essay for Orchestra, op. 12; Music for a Scene from Shelley, op. 7; Second Essay for Orchestra, op. 17; Symphony No. 1, op. 9 (Argo/London)
  • 1992: Elgar: Symphony No. 1, op. 55; Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches Nos. 1 and 2, op. 39 (Telarc)
  • 1992: Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 1; Phantasmata (Nonesuch)
  • 1991: Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite (1919 version); Petrushka (1947 version); Fireworks, op. 4 (Telarc)
  • 1991: Michael Torke: Green; Purple; Ecstatic Orange; Ash; Bright Blue Music (Argo/London)
  • 1991: Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture, op. 9; Les Francs-Juges Overture, op. 3; Symphonie fantastique, op. 14 (Telarc)
  • 1991: Schumann: Symphony No. 2, op. 61; Symphony No. 3, op. 97, “Rhenish” (Telarc)
  • 1991: Britten: Diversions for Piano Left Hand and Orchestra; Laderman: Concerto for Orchestra, Leon Fleisher, piano (Phoenix USA)
  • 1990: Tchaikovsky: Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, op. 23; Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43, Horacio Gutiérrez, piano (Telarc)
  • 1990: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, op. 36; Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy (Telarc)
  • 1990: Schumann: Symphony No. 1, op. 38; “Spring,” Symphony No. 4, op. 120 (Telarc)
  • 1989: Elgar: Cockaigne Concert Overture, op. 40; “In London Town,” Variations on an Original Theme, op. 36; “Enigma Variations,” Serenade for Strings, op. 20, Salut d’amour, op. 12, “Love’s Greeting” (Telarc)
  • 1989++: Barber: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, op. 22; Britten: Symphony for Cello and Orchestra, op. 68, Yo-Yo Ma, cello (Sony Classical)
  • 1988: Berlioz: Overture to Benvenuto Cellini, op. 23; “Love Scene” from Roméo et Juliette; “Minuet of the Will-o’-the-Wisps” from The Damnation of Faust; “Dance of the Sylphs” from The Damnation of Faust; “Rakóczy March” from The Damnation of Faust; Le Corsaire Overture; “Trojan March” from Les Troyens; “Royal Hunt and Storm” from Les Troyens, Sylvia McNair, soprano; Richard Leech, tenor; Boys from the Choir of St. Michael and All Angels; Boys from the Choir of St. David’s Episcopal Church; Baltimore Symphony Chorus (Telarc)
  • 1984: Brahms (orchestrated/Schoenberg): Quartet for Piano Vox and Strings No. 1, op. 25, Vox
  • 1982: Ravel: Alborada del gracioso; Rapsodie espagnole; Concerto in Piano Left Hand in D Major, Leon Fleisher, piano (Vanguard)
  • 1981: Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, op. 78, “Organ” (Silverline)
  • 1980: Respighi: Feste Romane; Pini di Roma (Vanguard)

(*2010 Grammy Nominee) (**2000 Grammy Nominee) (***1998 Grammy Nominee) (+1995 Two-time Grammy Award Winner) (++1990 Grammy Award Winner)


  1. ^ For convenience, this article uses 'Baltimore SO' as the abbreviation for the orchestra, to avoid confusion with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra.
  2. ^ Baden, Tom (31 May 2016). "BSO appoints Robles new GM, vice president". The Daily Record. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  3. ^ Leo Beranek, "Concert Halls and Opera Houses" 2nd ed. NY:Springer, 2007 ISBN 0-387-95524-0 p.33-46.
  4. ^ Rouse, Christopher (1986). Symphony No. 1: Program Note by the Composer. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  5. ^ Stucky, Steven. Son et lumière, for orchestra: Program Note by the Composer. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  6. ^ Whiting, Jim (2008). Yo-Yo Ma: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 84. ISBN 0313344868.
  7. ^ Wigler, Stephen (March 1, 1991). "New Harbison symphony is well worth hearing". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  8. ^ Smith, Tim (June 6, 2012). "Philip Glass' 'Overture for 2012' to get dual premiere: Baltimore-born composer provides companion piece to Tchaikovsky's '1812'". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  9. ^ Robin, William (September 17, 2013). "Classical Saxophone, an Outlier, Is Anointed by John Adams Concerto". The New York Times. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  10. ^ Smith, Tim (January 6, 2014). "Baltimore Symphony to premiere Leshnoff guitar concerto composed for Manuel Barrueco". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  11. ^ "Mission & Goals". Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  12. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. "Band Camp for Grown-Ups," The New York Times, Sunday, July 15, 2012.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Clements, Andrew (May 8, 2012). "Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta – review". The Guardian. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  16. ^ Ashley, Tim (October 11, 2012). "Mahler: Symphony No 1 – review". The Guardian. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  17. ^ Cowan, Rob (December 2010). "Marin Alsop's Dvořák series continues and is in the best form to date". Gramophone. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  18. ^ "Dvorák: Symphonies 7 & 8". BBC Music Magazine. January 20, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  19. ^ Smith, Tim (December 3, 2009). "Baltimore Symphony recording of Bernstein's 'Mass' gets Grammy nomination". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  20. ^ Alsop, Marin (April 18, 2008). "Dvorak's Symphonic Journey to the 'New World'". NPR. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  21. ^ Smith, Tim (March 19, 2007). "SO recording makes iPod hit parade". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  22. ^ Anderson, Porter (September 5, 2007). "The Red Violin sings again". CNN. Retrieved May 12, 2015.


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