Editorial: In praise of ... Marin Alsop

Editorial: A salute to a musician who has exhilarated the nation's musical life

When Marin Alsop (a woman) first took charge of a Prom, a young, eager interviewer (a man) inquired if she saw this as some kind of breakthrough. Courteously, if a little wearily, she replied that she would call it a breakthrough when people stopped asking questions like that. So that is the last reference here to her gender. Instead this piece marks her final appearance, at the Lichfield festival yesterday, as principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra - a salute to a musician who has greatly enhanced the orchestra that appointed her and exhilarated the nation's musical life. It would be wrong to suggest that the orchestra was labouring in the depths before she took charge. Founded as the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra, it became the BSO under Charles Groves in 1954, and Groves' successors included eminent names. Yet unquestionably the orchestra has hit new heights. Reviewing the last of her concerts at its south coast base (nowadays Poole rather than Bournemouth), the Guardian's Andrew Clements wrote that her performance of Mahler's Ninth demonstrated "what a flexible, confident band the BSO has become". She has now taken over another BSO, the Baltimore Symphony, with whom she has already produced, for Naxos, a recording of Dvorak's New World Symphony commended for its freshness (a word not often used in this context). Though she is back in her native land, we shall hear her again at the Proms and on the south coast. That cannot be too soon, or too often.


The GuardianTramp

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