Artist interview: MARIN ALSOP - conductor
Marin Alsop has recorded a great number of discs for Naxos, her most recent being
BARBER: Capricorn Concerto (8.559135) with the RSNO, released in November 2004.
You seem to be in a unique position as one of the only major
female conductors on the podium today, why do you think there are not
Let me start by saying that I think this is changing dramatically, if slowly!
I'm certain that the answer to this question is multi dimensional and
complex; conducting requires opportunities to hone one's skills and there
haven't been that many opportunities for women to work with good instruments
(orchestras) and it's impossible to develop without these opportunities. Many
women were discouraged from going into the field so it will take a while for
women to catch up in terms of entering the field at a younger age and
immersing themselves as men have. These are the practical aspects and then,
of course, there are myriad social and psychological aspects relating to
authority figures and social perceptions of women in leadership roles.
What is it about Barber's orchestral music that makes him such a
fascinating composer to record?
His music is extremely personal; he wrote heartfelt, romantic music at a time
when that was absolutely taboo. Yet he was not limited to one style at all
he can move easily between this lush neo romanticism and the gnarly
angularity of a "Medea" when the inspiration requires a different
But his music is always deeply sincere and distinctive and he understood the
orchestra as an instrument so well that his music is a joy for the musicians
What discoveries did you make when recording Barber with a
I was concerned that a non-American orchestra might not be able to relate
easily to Barber's music, but that was an unfounded worry. The RSNO plays
Barber with a passion and care that is inspired!
Do you feel there are any major gaps in the recorded repertoire
of music by important American composers other than Leonard Bernstein or
Samuel Barber for example?
There are many American composers who would be great candidates for a
complete cycle of their works: Roy Harris, Howard Hanson, and Walter Piston
are just a few that come to mind.
If you could only record one piece of music in your lifetime,
what would it be and why?
I have a dream to record Leonard Bernstein's MASS. It is a work that
incorporates every possible style from jazz and rock to folk and classical
a way that's truly original, not derivative and the work has such an
important message especially for us today!
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