News & Politics

Washingtonian of the Year 2015: Marin Alsop

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Forty minutes after the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has sounded its last note, music director Marin Alsop is still onstage. As part of her Off the Cuff series, Alsop spends time with the audience, telling them more about the composer and the work they’ve heard. For example, plenty of listeners were familiar with The Four Seasons, but, she says, “not many knew Vivaldi conducted an all-girls orchestra.” It’s all part of her effort to enhance the concert experience and attract people who may feel ignorant about classical music. The BSO is the only major US orchestra to make its year-round home in two cities, with its local base at Strathmore. The BSO brings classical music into Montgomery County schools through programs such as OrchLab, in which professional musicians work with young ensembles. The middle- and high-school players also attend some Strathmore concerts for free. A Music Box Series engages babies and toddlers. “We have an obligation,” Alsop says, “to share the greatness of our humanity through music.”

This article appears in our January 2016 issue of Washingtonian.