By Ricky O’Bannon
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop was awarded honorary membership in the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Alsop received the honor at Royal Albert Hall in London during a Sept. 4 BBC Proms concert in which she led the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a performance of works by John Adams and Gustav Mahler.
“Marin Alsop is an inspiring and distinguished artist who is also a role model for the 21st-century musician,” said composer Colin Matthews who presented the award to Alsop. “She is as widely recognized for her imaginative programming as for her deep commitment to education and to the development of audiences of all ages.”
In the honor, Matthews cited the ongoing Taki Concordia Fellowship, which Alsop started in 2002 to mentor young female conductors, as well as her work in Baltimore through the Rusty Musicians program where amateur musicians play with the BSO. Matthews also praised Alsop for the BSO’s OrchKids program which Alsop started using funds from her 2005 MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant to foster social change through music education in Baltimore schools.
Founded in 1813 when there were no permanent London orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic Society works to promote music performance, new works, young musicians and “ensure a vibrant future for classical music.” The group has awarded a total of 117 honorary memberships in its history to individuals who have provided “services to music” including composers such as Dmitri Shostakovich and Johannes Brahms and conductors such as Bruno Walter and Lorin Maazel.
“I am truly honored to accept this award, especially here at the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, a place that has such special meaning for me,” Alsop said. “The Society’s core values of Understanding, Creativity and Excellence are embraced by all of us today in our collective hope for a more tolerant and peaceful world. Thank you.”