Musical America magazine has picked its conductor of the year and the winner - Marin Alsop - comes as no surprise.
Alsop makes a big impression wherever she conducts. In Baltimore, as artistic director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, she has reenergized ticket sales. And the fact that she became the first woman to lead a major American orchestra in that role has spurred much interest in that orchestra.
More importantly, for those of us in Northern California, she has been the fearless musical leader of the Santa-Cruz-based Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. She has been the artistic director at Cabrillo for the past 17 years, and in that time she has been a tireless champion of new works. For lovers of contemporary music it is a joy having this festival within driving distance of Sacramento.
If you are curious as to Alsop's merits as a conductor, a listen to her
a recent Naxos recording of Brahms Symphony No. 3, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, will make a big impression. It's a powerful account, and I think it is a must-have recording.
Among those that were also given awards were composer Christopher Rouse (Composer of the Year), and Yo-Yo Ma (Musician of the Year).