On April 6 via Zoom webinar, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) unveiled details of its 2021-22 “A Season of Discovery,” including the return of live, in-person performances for audiences at both the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and The Music Center at Strathmore. The program included both details on programming and safety precautions and concluded with a live Q&A session. Peter T. Kjome, BSO President and CEO, and Tonya McBride Robles, BSO Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, outlined the upcoming season along with a short video from members of the BSO artistic leadership team and BSO musicians.
Renowned Guest Conductors, Superstar Soloists, and Special Collaborations Planned as In-Person Concerts Resume
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) today announces its 2021-22 Season: A Season of Discovery, marking a return to performances for live audiences at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and The Music Center at Strathmore. With eight commissions and three world premieres, the season presents well-known works in new contexts while lifting the work of diverse artists and composers and the stories of repressed voices in our history. Alongside collaborations with notable soloists and 14 local partners, audiences will also be introduced to numerous guest conductors as the BSO officially embarks on an international, multi-year Music Director search.
In his first season as Artistic Advisor, James Conlon brings his Recovered Voices* mission to the BSO with programs that elevate music by composers suppressed by the Nazi regime. In a season that has 11 programs exploring untold stories, Conlon’s programs also bring attention to works by American composers neglected for their race – a theme to be expanded throughout his Advisorship – including Dawson’s “Negro Folk Symphony,” a piece that garnered a great deal of short-lived acclaim after its premiere in 1934.
Music Director Laureate and OrchKids Founder Marin Alsop returns to the Orchestra in three programs, each featuring a BSO commission with works by Reena Esmail, Anna Clyne, and Angélica Castelló, in addition to a reimagining of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in a 21st-century call for unity, justice, and empowerment. Additional BSO (co-)commissions include a world premiere by James Lee III, in collaboration with BSO Artistic Partner Wordsmith, that gives voice to Maryland native and abolitionist Frederick Douglass; Christopher Theofanidis’ “Drum Circles” with The Percussion Collective; Wynton Marsalis’ “Fanfare;” and new concertos by Conrad Tao and Jessie Montgomery.
“We look forward to responsibly welcoming audiences back to our concert halls and showcasing rising and world-class conductors as we begin the exciting process of searching for our next music director,” said BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome. “In this multi-year process, we are committed to selecting an artistic leader who is not only an extraordinary musician but also a passionate advocate of the BSO’s vital role in the community.”
The season opens with renowned violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman and includes superstar guests Renée Fleming, Rod Gilfry, Christine Goerke, Nicola Benedetti, Ray Chen, Benjamin Grosvenor, and Anne-Sophie Mutter in performance with Sir Andrew Davis. Committed to presenting the world’s top musicians of today and tomorrow, the BSO presents 16 soloists make their BSO debuts, including Randall Goosby, Isata Kanneh-Mason, Chloë Hanslip, and Beatrice Rana.
“It’s incredibly exciting to envision the enthusiasm of both performers and audiences as we all rediscover the magic of live symphonic music together, on our return to the stages in Baltimore and Montgomery County as well as in community venues all across the State of Maryland,” said Chair of the Players’ Committee Brian Prechtl. “Equally exciting is the programming itself, a well-balanced season that represents the organizational transformation underway.”
Pops, Family, Specials, and Symphony in the City
New this season, the BSO Fusion series crosses multiple genres through music mash-ups. Created and conducted by Steve Hackman, concerts include “Skull and Bones,” remixing orchestral showpieces with vocal stems of Post Malone, Muse, Drake, and Kanye West; “Brahms v. Radiohead,” interweaving “OK Computer” with Brahms’ Symphony No. 1; and “The Resurrection Mixtape,” combining Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony with the music of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. Other specials include a Christmas performance with Leslie Odom, Jr; the return of the gymnasts and aerial artists of Troupe Vertigo in Cirque Nutcracker; “Toy Story in Concert;” and two installments of “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi – In Concert.”
Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly returns with a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, a celebration of John Williams, and a reinterpretation of Bizet’s “Carmen” with Troupe Vertigo. An exciting expansion of the Pops series, André De Shields returns to his hometown to tell Charm City’s story, and Byron Stripling showcases ragtime masters Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton.
Introducing the orchestra to Maryland’s youngest listeners, Assistant Conductor Jonathan Rush presents a Family series of fun and educational concerts, including “Unsung Heroes,” sharing the stories of overshadowed or overlooked heroes, and “Through the Telescope,” a collaboration with the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Beyond the subscription season, plans continue for an expansion of free, community-based Symphony in the City series in Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and beyond.
A Responsible Return to the Concert Hall
In welcoming audiences back to its concert halls, the BSO will implement a number of COVID-related measures. Together with our partners at The Music Center at Strathmore, the BSO is Global Biorisk Advisory Council STAR certified, ensuring high-level cleaning and disinfection efforts and infectious disease prevention methods. In maintaining a commitment to compliance with local public health and government officials for protocols, restrictions, and mandates, the BSO will also continue to offer flexible ticket exchanges and refunds.
In addition to a robust and responsibly presented in-person season, the BSO will also expand its digital platform curated during the pandemic with new accessibility through live-streamed performances and the return of the highly acclaimed docuseries BSO Sessions. Live-streamed performances for most Pops and Classical series subscription programs from the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall stage will be made available to subscribers for free. Non-subscribers may access the streams for a nominal fee.
Informed by the BSO’s recommitment to the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion, a newly crafted code of conduct has been implemented to ensure a welcoming, comfortable, and enjoyable environment in which all individuals – patrons, staff, artists, and volunteers – are treated with humanity, respect, and dignity at both the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and The Music Center at Strathmore.
*Recovered Voices is a special initiative of LA Opera that seeks to bring the music of composers suppressed by the Holocaust to the stage. It was founded in 2006 with generous support from Marilyn Ziering.
Subscriptions for the 2021-22 season for the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and the BSO at Strathmore are on sale beginning April 6 through BSO Patron Support, 410.783.8000, 877.BSO.1444, or BSOmusic.org/Subscribe. Single tickets for the general public will go on sale in August 2021. For press comps, additional artist bios, or media materials, please contact the Communications Department at tkopasek@BSOmusic.org.
Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Meyerhoff)
1212 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
The Music Center at Strathmore (Strathmore)
5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD, 20852
About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
For over a century, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has been recognized as one of America’s leading orchestras and one of Maryland’s most significant cultural institutions. Under the direction of Music Director Marin Alsop, the orchestra is internationally renowned and locally admired for its innovation, performances, recordings, and educational outreach initiatives including OrchKids.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs annually for more than 275,000 people throughout the State of Maryland. Since 1982, the BSO has performed at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, and since 2005, with the opening of The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD, the BSO became the nation’s first orchestra performing its full season of classical and pops concerts in two metropolitan areas. More recently, 2020 marked the beginning of a new era of artistry, innovation, stability, and digital accessibility, including the launch of the virtual platform BSO OffStage and a groundbreaking docuseries BSO Sessions. More information about the BSO can be found at BSOmusic.org.