Music Director Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) announce the Orchestra's 2013-2014 season, its seventh under the direction of Maestra Alsop.
Music: Bringing Solace and Hope after Tragedy
Music's role as a balm for the afflicted is timeless. When tragedy strikes, music helps people mourn, honor the dead and find hope again. Three works during the season were specifically written in response to tragic events. The centerpiece of the 2013-2014 season is Benjamin Britten's War Requiem on November 14-16, composed to mark the rebirth of Coventry Cathedral, whose ruin was a symbol of the physical and spiritual destruction wrought by the Second World War. These performances celebrate the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth on November 22, 1913. On June 5-8, 2014, the BSO pairs John Adams' deeply affecting tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, On the Transmigration of Souls, with Beethoven's uplifting Ninth Symphony, with its call for joy to unite all people in universal brotherhood. And on October 18-20, 2013, guest conductor Arild Remmereit introduces the music of Karen Tanaka with Water of Life, a musical response to the devastating 2011 tsunami in her native Japan.
Britten's War Requiem
The 20th-century English composer Benjamin Britten knew music's restorative power well. An outspoken pacifist, Britten's harrowing, poignant War Requiem was commissioned to consecrate the Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed by a Nazi bomb in 1940 during World War II. Its text weaves the traditional Requiem liturgy with poetry by Wilfred Owen, a British soldier killed in battle in the First World War. Britten scored the music of this weighty work for a large orchestra plus an additional chamber orchestra and two choirs. Marin Alsop leads the BSO and soprano Tamara Wilson, tenor Nicolas Phan, baritone Ryan McKinny, the University of Maryland Concert Choir and the Peabody Children's Chorus in this large-scale masterpiece November 14-16.
"Music has the power to express the inexpressible. Some of my most memorable performing experiences have been in the wake of tragedy. When people are hurting and need comfort, music can be that refuge and can offer a glimmer of hope and solace," said Music Director Marin Alsop. "Britten's War Requiem premiered in the Coventry Cathedral in 1962 to christen a building that had to literally rise out of the ashes and be rebuilt. The World War II victims' metaphorical ascent out of the ashes as they rebuilt their lives and remembered the many they lost is no less significant. This masterpiece is filled with inspiring moments, especially when the multitudes assembled onstage are playing and singing at full volume. But this complex work also has many tender and mournful moments that truly connect us, reminding us of what we share as members of the human race."
John Adams' On the Transmigration of Souls and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
To close the 2013-2014 classical subscription season on June 5-8, Marin Alsop leads the BSO in John Adams' Pulitzer Prize-winning On the Transmigration of Souls and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
John Adams' On the Transmigration of Souls was premiered in September 2002 by the New York Philharmonic to an audience personally affected and still keenly grieving the lives lost in the 9/11 attacks just one year prior. The composer described the work as a "memory space," where a listener can "go and be alone with your thoughts and emotions." Its text is drawn not from notable poets or religious texts, but rather the simple phrases scrawled on the posters that adorned Ground Zero, written by those left behind. "Transmigration"-or movement from one place to another-is intended to describe the movement of souls to their final resting place, but also to describe and stimulate an inner transformation in all who would hear this work.
The influence of Beethoven's monumental Ninth Symphony is immeasurable. As the first symphony to include full chorus and orchestra, Beethoven's Ninth brought the genre to a magnitude that had never been previously conceived, thereby radically changing the future of orchestral repertoire. With its uplifting text and call for universal brotherhood, the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony has been used to mark historic events, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, and now serves as the European Union's anthem. The symphony was inspired by the writing of Friedrich Schiller, who, in his poem An die Freude or "Ode to Joy," states that joy is found when "all men are made brothers."