By Jack Fishman, VP, External Affairs, BSO at Strathmore
The Music Center at Strathmore’s grand opening took place, February 5, 2005 with a concert by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. On Thursday, February 5th we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of this historic occasion with a gala and special concert featuring pianist Garrick Ohlsson. Here is a look back at the evolution of the BSO at Strathmore and the Music Center, which was hailed as “the best place to hear symphonic music that the Washington area has ever known.”
- August 1899: Prominent Washingtonian Captain James Frederick Oyster and his wife purchase the land and began building their nine bedroom summer mansion.
- February 1916: The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is created as a branch of the Baltimore municipal government.
- February 1937: first female musician joins the BSO
- July 1943: St. Mary’s Academy converts the mansion into a convent and school named St. Angela Hall.
- February 5, 1947: BSO’s first trip to Carnegie Hall
- October 1963: The first BSO concert in Montgomery County is held at Whitman High School.
- 1979: The mansion and eleven acres of land are given to Montgomery County. Shortly thereafter, the house is renamed Strathmore Hall and plans are made to develop the mansion and grounds as Montgomery County’s first center for the arts.
- 1996: The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra expresses interest in creating a second home in Montgomery County; the BSO and the Strathmore Hall Foundation become the Founding Partners of The Music Center at Strathmore.
- 1998: The Montgomery County Council and the Maryland State Legislature approve matching capital support ($48 million each) to build a new concert hall.
- December 1980: BSO performs and records in DC at the National Presbyterian Church.
- April 2001: Ground is broken on this 1,976-seat concert hall and education center. Designed by William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. of Boston, acousticians Kirkegaard Associates of Chicago and Theatre Projects Consultants of South Norwalk, Connecticut, the result is a critically acclaimed venue that Anne Midgette of The Washington Post has called “the best concert hall, acoustically and aesthetically, in the region.”
- September 2004: first BSO concert on Strathmore property—an outdoor concert called Salute to Heroes fills the lawn with thousands.
- February 5, 2005: The Music Center at Strathmore’s grand opening is a concert by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Music Director Yuri Temirkanov, with special guests including cellist Yo-Yo Ma, soprano Harolyn Blackwell and soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme. A Washington Post editorial declares the hall ”a gleaming jewel among the region's cultural treasures," and Post critic Tim Page writes: "Musical life in the nation's capital region just got a lot more interesting...this may turn out to be the best place to hear symphonic music that the Washington area has ever known.”
If you’d like more information about the February 5th gala and concert, please call me at 301.581.5210 or email JFishman@BSOmusic.org.