The trailblazer was honored by The Washington Chorus for her contributions to orchestral conducting.
By Patrick D. McCoy
The holiday season is just one of the times of the years that we show our appreciation for those people who make rich contributions to our society. At a reception held at the Embassy of Finland, The Washington Chorus recently honored Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conductor Marin Alsop for her outstanding work in music and the performing arts. Alsop is considered a trailblazer in the arena of orchestral conducting, being the first female to be appointed as principal conductor of an American symphony orchestra.
The wonderful evening featured a delightful array of appetizers and cocktails, complimented by a mini-concert performed by members of the chorus, conducted by associate conductor John Bohl. Knight Kiplinger served as the evening’s host and gave the invited guests a snapshot of Alsop’s career, by highlighting some of the important moments in her ascent into the world of classical music. Special greetings came from Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde. Among the letters of congratulations to Alsop were from the children of the famed conductor Leonard Bernstein, including his daughter Jaime Bernstein. A note of congratulations was read in the absence of Washington Chorus music director Julian Wachner, who was at a prior commitment with the New York City Opera VOX Festival.
Born in 1956 to musical parents, Alsop continued her musical education at Yale, and later Juilliard, where she earned both the bachelor and master of music in violin. She became the first conductor to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, and her discography includes the critically acclaimed recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which was Grammy nominated for best classical album.
In the spirit of Alsop’s outstanding commitment to mentoring young musicians, members of The Washington Chorus performed an original composition by Junior Washington Chorus member Sophia Hill. Entitled “A Light Exists in Spring,” the ensemble was led by Esther Ullberg, who is also a member of the educational program for students provided by the organization.
Petersburg, Va. native Patrick D. McCoy received a B.M. in vocal performance from Virginia State University and an M.M. in church music from the Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va. He has contributed arts and culture pieces to CBS Washington, The Afro-American Newspaper and the newly published book, “In Spite of the Drawbacks” (Association of Black Women Historians), which includes his chapter on legendary soprano Leontyne Price. McCoy has interviewed some of the most acclaimed artists of our time, including Renée Fleming, Denyce Graves, Norman Scribner, Julian Wachner, Christine Brewer and Lawrence Brownlee. Listen to these interviews and others at Blog Talk Radio. McCoy may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @PatrickDMcCoy.