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Music Director Marin Alsop Talks About Lessons, Accomplishments With Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is among the finest in the world. For the past 14 years, it has performed under the baton of Music Director Marin Alsop.

When Alsop was appointed in 2007, she made international headlines as the first woman to hold that post at a major American symphony orchestra. Now, Alsop has announced she's stepping down from this post in August.

WJZ met with the Maestra as she considers how she and the orchestra have grown and changed under her tenure.

"Here in Baltimore you have one of the great orchestras and I feel that I have made a great contribution toward that," Alsop said. "The artistic level that we've achieved, and technical level of the orchestra it, it really rivals the great orchestras of the world."

And, Alsop would have reason to know.

She has conducted many of the greatest orchestras playing today. She is also music director of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra the Vienna Radio Orchestra and made history when she was named the first female conductor of the BBC's Last Night of the Proms.

Born to musician parents, Alsop played violin as a child but found her calling under her mentor, teacher, friend and tutor Leonard Bernstein.

Today, she has over 100 award-winning recordings, two honorary doctorates and is the only conductor to receive the MacArthur Fellowship.

She is also the central subject in a new documentary film, "The Conductor," which follows her in her pioneering role as a woman in the traditionally male-dominated world of classical music.

"I survived it. And not only did I survive it, I didn't mind being the person to survive it," Alsop said. "I think I'm tough enough and strong enough and that's what was needed in that moment."

"The Conductor" will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this Summer.

Soon after Marin came to Baltimore in 2007, she formed Orch Kids, a group providing musical instruments and lessons to the city's children who otherwise might never have the opportunity to play music.

It all stemmed from her asking one question: What would happen if we created opportunity for these kids?

"And, I've been blown away by what could happen and what has happened," she said. "We started with 30 first graders in 2008 and today we have over 2,000 kids playing musical instruments at a very, very, very extraordinary level."

"I hope that, in twenty years, maybe we'll see the first Orch Kid win an audition to become a member of the Baltimore Symphony and then community and, sort of, artistic excellence will come together and so, that's my hope," Alsop added.

The past year has been extremely difficult for Marin and all the BSO musicians, as they've not been able to perform for a live audience. It's something they've really missed.

"It's not just missing. It feels almost like grieving for our audiences because that's what we train for," she said. "That's what we work for, that moment when the music comes to life and that moment when the audience is there."

"Music has the ability, you know, to free us. To connect us," Alsop said.

When she steps down as Music Director in August, Marin will continue as BSO Music Director Laureate, she will conduct three concerts a year, guide Orch Kids and continue teaching graduate conducting at the Peabody Conservatory.

But, this is the closing of a chapter.

"It's a time filled with change. But, I don't know, change is always exciting as well," she said. "And I have so much joy in my life from what I do, from my family, from my friends, you know that I feel that, I feel that appreciation every day when I get up. I'm so lucky."

And, Baltimore and the BSO have been lucky to enjoy her talents for these fourteen years.

The BSO is celebrating Marin with the 'Marin Festival' which begins Thursday night, May 27 with a free, virtual concert by the Orch Kids.

It continues throughout the month of June with a number of live, free outdoor concerts, the first concert at the hall in over a year, virtual performances and much more. For a full schedule go to

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