Marin Alsop and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Celebrate Classic Americana with “O’ Say Can You See” Gala Celebration Concert September 20

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Signaling the start of the social season, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) will hold its annual Gala Celebration on Saturday, September 20 at 8:30 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. This year’s Gala concert will be led by BSO Music Director Marin Alsop.

Signaling the start of the social season, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) will hold its annual Gala Celebration on Saturday, September 20 at 8:30 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. This year’s Gala concert will be led by BSO Music Director Marin Alsop. On the heels of the 200th birthday of the National Anthem, the evening will showcase American music and artists, beginning with a revival of Ferde Grofé's "Ode to the Star-Spangled Banner," brought back to the stage for its first public performance in 80 years. The program also features celebrated blind American jazz pianist Marcus Roberts with the Marcus Roberts Trio performing Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue"; Center Stage’s visionary Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah narrating Copland's Lincoln Portrait; and the Morgan State University Choir lending their voices to selections from the composer’s Old American Songs. Please see below for complete program details.

To accompany the BSO’s gala opening performance of Ode to the Star Spangled Banner and Rhapsody in Blue, the Library of Congress is organizing a display of rare, historical documents to be displayed in the Meyerhoff lobby. These will include an original copy of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” the British social club’s song to which “The Star Spangled Banner” was set; one of only 11 existing copies of the original 1814 sheet music for “The Star Spangled Banner,” published in Baltimore within days of the bombardment; a copy of the poem in Francis Scott Key’s handwriting; and Grofé’s handwritten scores for both the Ode and Rhapsody in Blue, the latter being the score that Paul Whiteman used to conduct Rhapsody’s 1924 debut.

The BSO’s Celebration Gala is the organization's largest and most important fundraising event of the year, and this year’s Honorary Chairperson is Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. It raises funds to support the Orchestra's educational outreach programs in Baltimore and throughout the State of Maryland. The Celebration Gala offers an evening of entertainment and fine dining provided by Classic Catering. Pre- and post-concert gala festivities will take place in an event tent located just outside of the Meyerhoff.

Marin Alsop, conductor
Marin Alsop is an inspiring and powerful voice in the international music scene, a music director of vision and distinction who passionately believes that “music has the power to change lives.” She is recognized across the world for her innovative approach to programming and for her deep commitment to education and to the development of audiences of all ages.

Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO). With her inaugural concerts in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra. Her success as the BSO’s music director has garnered national and international attention for her innovative programming and artistry. Her success was recognized when, in 2013, her tenure was extended to the 2020-2021 season.

Alsop took up the post of principal conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra in 2012, and became music director in July 2013. There, she steers the orchestra in its artistic and creative programming, recording ventures and its education and outreach activities. 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.

In the summer of 2014, Maestra Alsop served her 23rd season as music director of the acclaimed Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California. In September 2013, she made history as the first female conductor of the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms in London. When Musical America named Maestra Alsop the 2009 Conductor of the Year, they commented, “[Marin Alsop] connects to the public as few conductors today can.”

Marcus Roberts Trio
Marcus Roberts (piano), in 2014, was honored to have his life and work featured on a segment of the celebrated CBS News television show “60 Minutes.” The show traced Roberts’ life to date from his early roots in Jacksonville and at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind to his remarkable career as a classically-trained jazz musician. Roberts’ first performance as a soloist with symphony orchestra was in 1992 with Maestra Marin Alsop. Since that time, he has performed with orchestras all over the world. Roberts returns to Baltimore after performing in Japan with long-time friend and mentor, Maestro Seiji Ozawa, at the renowned Saito Kinen Festival.

The Marcus Roberts Trio is known for its powerfully rhythmic, strongly melodic and virtuosic style. Drummer Jason Marsalis has been with the trio since its inception in 1995 and is a key part of the group sound and style that is the hallmark of this trio. Bassist Rodney Jordan is celebrating his fifth year with the trio and his profound musical intelligence has already left its mark on its sound. Both Marsalis and Jordan are known for their quick musical reflexes and creative imaginations.

Marcus Roberts along with his trio members has long been committed to the education and training of young musicians of all ages. Roberts directs the educational programs at the Savannah Music Festival, teaches at Florida State University, and was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree from The Juilliard School in May of 2014. Finally, to provide opportunities for younger professional musicians to perform, Roberts’ most recent project is the founding of The Modern Jazz Generation, a multigenerational band that is rooted in the principles of mentoring that were central to the early evolution of jazz music. The group’s first CD, "Romance, Swing, and the Blues," will be released in October of 2014 on Roberts’ J-Master Records label.

Kwame Kwei-Armah, narrator
Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, an award-winning British playwright, director, actor and broadcaster, is in his third season as artistic director of Center Stage in Baltimore, Md. At Center Stage he has directed "The Mountaintop"; "An Enemy of the People"; "The Whipping Man" (one of City Paper’s Top Ten Productions of 2012), for which he was named Best Director; and Naomi Wallace’s "Things of Dry Hours." Among his works as playwright are "Elmina’s Kitchen" and "Let There Be Love," which had their American debuts at Center Stage, as well as "A Bitter Herb," "Statement of Regret," and "Seize the Day." His latest play, "Beneatha’s Place," debuted at Center Stage in 2013 as part of the ground-breaking Raisin Cycle. His other directorial credits include "Let There be Love" and "Seize the Day" at the Tricycle Theatre, the World Premiere of Detroit ’67 at The Public Theater and the World Premiere of The Liquid Plainat Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Kwame has served on the boards of The National Theatre and The Tricycle Theatre, both in London. He served as artistic director for the World Arts Festival in Senegal, a month-long World Festival of Black Arts and Culture, which featured more than two thousand artists from 52 countries participating in 16 different arts disciplines. He was named Chancellor of the University of the Arts London, and in 2012 was named an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Morgan State University Choir
The Morgan State University Choir (MSUC) has performed around the world to critical acclaim. Named “Best College Choir” in 2004 by Reader’s Digest magazine, the Choir has performed with several major American orchestras, including The Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra. For over 30 years, Dr. Nathan Carter was the conductor of this ensemble. Dr. Eric Conway is currently the director of the Morgan State University Choir and chairperson of the Fine Arts Department. During his tenure, Dr. Conway has led the choir to many acclaimed performances, including a special performance at the service honoring Rosa Parks, the first woman to lay in honor at our nation’s Capital Rotunda. In July 2006, the choir traveled to Prague for two concerts with Maestro Paul Freeman and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. In 2008, MSUC performed at Carnegie Hall on two separate occasions; under the baton of Bobby McFerrin with the St. Luke’s Orchestra and under the baton of Marin Alsop with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Since 2008, the Choir has performed all over the world including destinations of Russia, South Africa, Colombia, China, Brazil, Jamaica and Italy. The Choir sang in Australia and Montenegro during the summer of 2013. MSUC has shared its musical gifts on many grand stages all over the world, with numerous dignitaries and celebrated performers, making them cultural ambassadors for Morgan State University, the City of Baltimore, the state of Maryland and the United States. For further information, visit

Complete program Details:
Special Event: BSO Gala Concert
Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 8:30 p.m. — Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)

Marin Alsop, conductor
Marcus Roberts Trio
Kwame Kwei-Armah, narrator (BSO Debut)
Morgan State University Choir

Ferde Grofé: Ode to The Star-Spangled Banner
Aaron Copland: Lincoln Portrait
Aaron Copland: Selections from Old American Songs
George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

Tickets for the Gala Concert are available from $40 at 410.783.8000 or at

Complete Program Details:
Annual Gala Celebration: O’ Say Can You See
Saturday, September 20, 2014 — Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)

The Celebration Gala is a black-tie event.

6:30 p.m.: Pre-concert Gala Celebration, with dining and entertainment — Gala Tent
7:30 p.m.: Doors open for Gala Concert — Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
8:30 p.m.: Gala Concert — JMSH
9:30 p.m.: VIP Post-concert party and desserts with BSO Artists — Gala Tent
For tickets to the Celebration Gala, please contact Sarah Weintraub at 410.783.8054 or Megan Beck at 410.783.8035.

Honorary Gala Chair:
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Honorary Gala Committee:
Lainy LeBow-Sachs, Chair
Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker
Barbara and Tom Bozzuto
Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Karmen Walker Brown
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Maya Cardin
Donna and Kenneth DeFontes
Beth Goldsmith
Jackie and Dr. Freeman Hrabowski
Patricia and Mark Joseph
Baltimore County Executive Kevin and Jill Kamenetz
Ava Lias-Booker
U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski
Governor Martin and Katie O’Malley
Dot and Henry Rosenberg
Elaine and Dr. Solomon Snyder

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is funded by an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is supported in part by funding from the Montgomery County government and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is also supported by the Citizens of Baltimore County and the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore.


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Alyssa Porambo
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