Music for Our Times
Notorious for their stuffy reputations, most classical music conductors can't claim to have their own Website, let alone even know what the Internet is. Marin Alsop is different. Her easy-to-read site (marinalsop.com) features her bio, lists her credits and recordings, plus offers pictures, reviews, schedules, and even contact information. "Pretty cool, isn't it?" she boasts. But as versed as she is in computers, Alsop, even if she wanted to, can't be the master of her Website. She's just way too busy. Leader of the Concordia Orchestra and jazz violinist in the group String Fever, she also has been the music director of the Colorado Symphony since 1993 and will begin a four-year appointment as principal conductor of Britain's Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (the first time in history that a woman will lead a British orchestra) next year. A protégée of Leonard Bernstein and a veteran of guest stints with orchestras all over the world, Alsop will come to Miami Beach Saturday and Sunday to lead the New World Symphony and guest pianist James Tocco in "Faith and Fate," an aptly titled program for these times, featuring Bernstein's Symphony no. 2 (The Age of Anxiety) and Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 5. She spoke to New Times from Washington, D.C., where she was spending a week with the National Symphony Orchestra in what she called "a not-so-little" guest spot.
New Times: What made you want to be a conductor?
Marin Alsop: I saw Bernstein conduct when I was kid and that was it: I was sold.
Talk about Bernstein: What was he like?
He was great, very generous, brilliant. He wasn't just about music, he was about being a human being, and for me that's an important part of living, too.
Tell me about The Age of Anxiety.
It draws inspiration from an epic poem by W.H. Auden. It's quite complex, basically about these characters that meet at a bar. They start sinking into sort of an unconscious realm, and they have these imaginary journeys together, and they're literal and metaphorical journeys about the different stages of life. The question for Bernstein is what is faith? And do we have faith? And have we experienced a crisis of faith?
Does great music have the power to provide solace to people?
What's so fantastic about art and music is that it really represents the best of humanity. It's the essence of our creativity, and it's a way to share tremendous emotion in a very abstract way, without dumping on anybody. Just to really be together and experience an emotional journey that can be slightly different for all the individuals at a concert. I find that music has brought a lot of solace to people in these times. Great music has taken on more profundity and more meaning for individuals because I think our lives are more profound now.
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