The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra held their 2011 Gala Celebration last Saturday, Sept. 10.
The black tie affair was well attended by patrons and raised over $750,000 to support the BSO's community outreach programs, such as OrchKids.
As expected, there were several speeches, starting with incoming Board of Directors Chairman, Kenneth W. DeFontes Jr. (president of BGE) and following with Tom and Barbara Bozzuto, the gala chairs. DeFontes anticipated the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the BSO in 2016, and the Bozzutos thanked the audience for their continuous support throughout the year.
A screen above the orchestra played short documentaries throughout the night, including interviews with the 82 musicians that make up the BSO.
The artists talked about how they were first introduced to music — answers ranged from "playing in a Buddhist marching band" to hearing their father sing — and where they'd be if they weren't with the BSO ("In jail," one trumpet player joked).
Later in the evening, the BSO reminded its donors of what they were there to contribute to: OrchKids, founded by the Maestra Marin Alsop herself.
The music education program unites children with instruments and mentors all over Baltimore and has plans to expand in the upcoming year.
Dozens of Orch kids — including the Bucket Band — took to the stage afterward and gave an energized performance.
Joined by Hilary Hahn, the soloist of the night, the young musicians showcased their talents, as they threw down drumsticks to pick up the cello, trumpet or violin, or to bust a dance move at the center of the stage.
Grammy award-winning violinist Hahn was the darling of the night, wowing the audience with her flawless performance and charming stage presence. The Baltimore native and famous Peabody alum (she debuted at the age of 12) frequently returns to her hometown to perform with the BSO.
Taking the stage in a red ball gown, she performed Mendelssohn's famous "Violin Concerto," a classic choice for the evening.
The first movement was played at a blood-raising tempo but done with effortless fluidity and precision. Her performance was rewarded with an immediate standing ovation. Hahn returned for a brief encore and later again to join the OrchKids.
Maestra Alsop also led the BSO through Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for a Common Man" and Joan Tower's "Fanfare for an Uncommon Woman." The brass section stood for both pieces, which were short and triumphant.
Following was the premiere of a piece written for Baltimore: "Charmed," composed by David Little, was introduced as "cinematic [and] gritty" by Maestra Alsop.
A special BSO commission, the ode to our city featured playful percussion and piccolo solos. There were moments of light-heartedness but also chaos, which may be what Little intended for his dedication piece.
The ending was uniquely effective, with just the concertmaster sustaining the last note as the violins died out behind him, creating a beautiful dissolution of sound.
To conclude the night, singers from choirs around the area (Morgan State University, Baltimore City College, Baltimore School for the Arts) took to the stage for a rendition of "Hallelujah Chorus" from Too Hot to Handel, the jazzy version of Handel's popular work.
Three soloists were featured, their powerful voices easily filling the packed concert hall. The song was a departure from the rest of the night but ended the performance on a festive note and reaffirmed that the BSO has an adventurous and creative season ahead of them.