Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg Appears with Marin Alsop and the BSO in Final Program of the Season, June 7-10

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The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 2011-2012 season culminates in Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, led by Music Director Marin Alsop, on Thursday, June 7 at 8 p.m., Friday, June 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 10 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, June 9 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 2011-2012 season culminates in Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, led by Music Director Marin Alsop, on Thursday, June 7 at 8 p.m., Friday, June 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 10 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, June 9 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. Always a champion of new music, Marin Alsop will introduce Symphony No. 4, “From Mission San Juan Bautista,” by recent Pulitzer Prize winner and Peabody Institute faculty member Kevin Puts; a piece inspired by the handsome old California mission featured in Alfred Hitchock’s classic, Vertigo. The program will conclude with music from Stravinsky’s revolutionary ballet The Rite of Spring, whose 1913 premiere is recognized as one of the most controversial debuts in the history of music. The rarely-orchestrated Wagner Tuben used in this performance of The Rite of Spring is a gift from Beth Green Pierce in memory of her father, Elwood I. Green. Please see below for complete program details.

Just last week, American composer Kevin Puts won the Pulitzer Prize in music for his first opera. Historically, his works have been well-received in the Baltimore area; the BSO’s previous performances of River’s Rush and Network were proclaimed “prismatic” by the Baltimore Sun and “fascinating and well wrought” by The Washington Post, respectively. This season heralds yet another landmark symphonic work by the applauded composer with the performance of his Symphony No. 4, “From Mission San Juan Bautista.” Commissioned by the Cabrillo Festival and premiered by Marin Alsop in the summer of 2007, Puts’ Fourth Symphony is a beautiful, neo-Romantic work that exudes nostalgia for an earlier time and place.

Eight months after his ill-conceived marriage to Antonina Milyukova, Tchaikovsky sought escape on the shores of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva. There, he and his brother Modest were visited by the gifted 22-year-old violinist Yosif Kotek, a composition pupil of Tchaikovsky's in Moscow. In addition to comfort and support, Kotek provided both artistic inspiration and technical advice for Tchaikovsky's recently begun violin concerto. The piece was finished only a month later, but its premiere in Vienna wasn’t for another two and a half years. “This astonishingly gifted superstar violinist's performance might have awakened the composer from a dream of the perfect performance to applaud in his nightshirt,” hailed the Madison Capital Times after witnessing Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. The wildly popular American violinist is a frequent soloist with the BSO and is admired for her passion, interpretive power and compelling stage presence.

May 29, 1913, is a day that will forever be remembered for one of the most notorious scandals in music history. That evening’s performance at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées began like any other, but within a few short minutes absolute chaos ensued. The premiere of the Russian ballet The Rite of Spring spurred otherwise sophisticated Parisian concert-goers to engage in catcalls, boisterous arguments and fistfights, eventually escalating to a full-scale riot. Stravinsky’s complex polyrhythms, bizarre orchestration and percussive dissonances, combined with Vaslav Nijinsky’s violent, jarring choreography, proved far too avant-garde for the pre-Modernist audience. Although it is now considered standard repertoire, The Rite of Spring continues to thrill and shock today’s listeners.

Marin Alsop, conductor
Hailed as one of the world’s leading conductors for her artistic vision and commitment to accessibility in classical music, Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. With her inaugural concerts in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra. She also holds the title of conductor emeritus at the Bournemouth Symphony in the United Kingdom, where she served as the principal conductor from 2002-2008, and is music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California.

In 2005, Ms. Alsop was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first conductor ever to receive this prestigious award. In 2007, she was honored with a European Women of Achievement Award, in 2008 she was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2009 Musical America named her “Conductor of the Year.” In November 2010, she was inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame. In February 2011, Marin Alsop was named the music director of the Orquestra Sinfônica do estado de São Paulo (OSESP), or the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, effective for the 2012-13 season. Ms. Alsop was named to Guardian’s Top 100 Women list in March 2011. In 2011 Marin Alsop was named an Artist in Residence at the Southbank Centre in London, England.

A regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ms. Alsop appears frequently as a guest conductor with the most distinguished orchestras around the world. In addition to her performance activities, she is also an active recording artist with award-winning cycles of Brahms, Barber and Dvořák.

Marin Alsop attended Yale University and received her master’s degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she won the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at Tanglewood where she studied with Leonard Bernstein.

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin
Internationally-acclaimed soloist and chamber musician Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg is best known for her exciting performances, passionate interpretations and charismatic personality. An innovative artist, her daring, dedication and enthusiasm for all facets of her career have resulted in her becoming one of today’s leading violinists, renowned for her work on the concert stage, in the recording studio and in her role as music director of the San Francisco-based New Century Chamber Orchestra, which she joined in January 2008. Her first three seasons have been hailed as a tremendous success by audiences and critics alike – “a marriage that works,” in her words, and for renewing enthusiasm for “one of the most burnished and exciting ensembles in the Bay Area,” according to Rich Scheinin of the San Jose Mercury News.

Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg’s professional career began in 1981 when she won the Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition. In 1983 she was recognized with an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and in 1988 was Ovation’s Debut Recording Artist of the Year. In 1999 she was honored with the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, awarded to instrumentalists who have demonstrated “outstanding achievement and excellence in music.” In May of that same year, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg was awarded an honorary Master of Musical Arts from the New Mexico State University, the first honorary degree the University has ever awarded. An American citizen, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg was born in Rome and emigrated to the United States at the age of eight to study at The Curtis Institute of Music. She later studied with Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School.

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s exceptional artistry is paired with great musical intelligence which, along with her unique personality, have served her well in numerous environments – on camera, in a commercial for Signet Bank, hosting a Backstage/Live from Lincoln Center program for PBS, appearing in the PBS/BBC series The Mind, even talking to Big Bird on Sesame Street. She was the subject of the 2000 Academy Award-nominated film, Speaking in Strings, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Released in theaters nationwide and subsequently premiered on HBO’s Signatures channel in 1999, this intensely personal documentary on her life is available on VHS and DVD through New Video. The CD of music from the film was released in 1999 by Angel/EMI. Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg appeared on ABC’s primetime comedy Dharma & Greg in 2001, and she has also been interviewed and profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes, 60 Minutes II, and Sunday Morning; CNN’s Newsstand; NBC’s National News and Newsstand; NBC’s National News and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson; A&E’sArtist of the Week with Elliot Forrest; Bravo’s Arts & Minds and The Art of Influence; PBS’ Live from Lincoln Center, The Charlie Rose Show, and City Arts. On the publishing front, Nadja: On My Way, her autobiography written for children discussing her experiences as a young musician building a career, was published by Crown Books in 1989.

A powerful and creative presence on the recording scene, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg continues to enrich the collection of her record label, NSS Music, which she started in 2005. The label’s roster of artists includes Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg, pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, horn player John Cerminaro, pianist/composer Clarice Assad, conductor Marin Alsop, the American String Quartet, the Colorado Symphony, Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo and the New Century Chamber Orchestra. With New Century, Nadja has released two records for NSS MUSIC. The second, a 2010 live recording featuring Strauss’s Metamorphosen, Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Mahler’s Adagietto from Symphony No. 5, has been praised as “brilliant” by Oregon Music News, and “For those who like orchestral music for strings that takes nothing less than revelation as its goal, this is a must-have.” by Together, the first CD recorded by Nadja and New Century, features Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, Gershwin’s Bess You is My Woman Now from Porgy and Bess, arranged for string orchestra, both with Nadja as soloist; Impressions by Clarice Assad (which was given its world premiere by New Century in 2008) and Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances arranged for string orchestra. In addition to her over twenty releases on the EMI and Nonesuch labels, Nadja has also recorded for NSS Music “Originis, Live from Brazil”, a recording which honors the Italian heritage of Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg and the Brazillian heritage of her collaborators, guitarists Sérgio and Odair Assad, “Merry” (a compilation of Christmas favorites), “Nadja” (Tchaikovsky and Assad violin concertos), and “Live” with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott. Also on Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg’s label are The American String Quartet’s “Schubert’s Echo” (August 2010), “Love, All That It Is”, NSS Music’s first jazz album featuring The Clarice Assad Trio), Anne-Marie McDermott’s “Bach”, and John Cerminaro’s “John Cerminaro, A Life of Music.”

Classical Concert: Salerno-Sonnenberg Plays Tchaikovsky
Thursday, June 7, 2012 8 p.m. – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Friday, June 8, 2012 at 8 p.m. – JMSH
Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 8 p.m. – Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 3 p.m. – JMSH

Marin Alsop, conductor
Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin

Kevin Puts: Symphony No. 4, “From Mission San Juan Bautista”
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

Tickets range from $34 to $68 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000 or


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Alyssa Porambo
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
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