By Jack Fishman, VP, External Affairs, BSO at Strathmore
“Has it been ten years already?” It’s a comment I hear time and time again as I speak about the upcoming 10th anniversary season for the BSO at Strathmore. More than a decade ago a group of visionary Maryland leaders had a transformational idea—to create a music center at Strathmore with the world-class Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as the founding partner and resident orchestra. Two days after the February 5, 2005 grand opening, Washington Post Staff Writer Tim Page wrote:
So, just how good is the Music Center at Strathmore -- the gleamingly handsome, dazzlingly ambitious, 1,976-seat auditorium just off Rockville Pike that opened its doors Saturday night?
Very good indeed, on the preliminary evidence of the first concert, a gala program featuring the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Yuri Temirkanov. Indeed, from where I was sitting (on an aisle in the middle of the orchestra level) it sounded as though this may turn out to be the best place to hear symphonic music that the Washington area has ever known.
The highlight of the 2014-2015 season will be a special concert with a pre-concert gala party on the exact anniversary of that first performance—Thursday, February 5, 2015. Music Director Marin Alsop, superstar pianist Garrick Ohlsson and the entire BSO will perform blockbuster favorites by Rachmaninoff and Respighi. The evening will begin with a gala dinner and the announcement of the first BSO at Strathmore Arts Leadership Award. (You may attend the concert without attending the gala.)
I asked two BSO musicians for their thoughts about Strathmore:
The promise of Strathmore is the very reason I joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, leaving my spot in one of the worlds very best, the Israel Philharmonic. Why? The BSO’s renowned artistic reputation combined with having not one but two of the countries best concert halls has made it the premier orchestra in the Mid-Atlantic region, and people are beginning to whisper that we are giving the “Big-Five” a run for their money. Building Strathmore was the right way for the BSO to serve all of Maryland in the best possible way.
--Andy Balio, principal trumpet
I love playing concerts for our wonderful audiences at Strathmore Hall. It is always gratifying to look out and see that the vast majority of the concerts we play here are well sold; many are even sold out. I have had a chance, through donor events, the BSO Academy, and other opportunities, to meet many of you, and I really appreciate your dedication to our concerts, and your love of great music! I am looking forward to the fact that we will now reach even more of you this year, with our new Sunday afternoon series.
Musicians of the BSO are very lucky to have not just one, but two excellent concert halls in which we perform, the Meyerhoff in Baltimore, and of course, Strathmore Hall. Strathmore has refined, clear acoustics that enable us to hear each other very well on stage, and perform at a high level of ensemble not always possible in less good acoustics. What a great decision it was, in my opinion, for Montgomery County to have chosen to build Strathmore Hall, and to have chosen the BSO as its primary classical music organization.
--Greg Mulligan, first violin
Chair, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee
BSO Musicians ICSOM representative
Music Director Marin Alsop’s powerful vision and leadership has created a model for what the 21st century orchestra should be: accessible, innovative and a vibrant community partner. This year BSO is expanding our commitment to the Montgomery County/DC Metro area with a new series of Sunday matinée performances, expanding our OrchLab program in Montgomery County Title-I schools, introducing the first full season of 12 Music Box concerts for very young children and adding a new holiday family concert. Throughout the 10th anniversary season at Strathmore, Maestra Marin Alsop and the BSO explore themes of spiritual awakening and transcendence through programs that inspire, uplift, and challenge audiences.
Do you have a favorite BSO at Strathmore memory? If you’d be willing to share, please email me at JFishman@BSOmusic.org. Happy Anniversary!