Marin Alsop Leads BSO in Didi Balle’s Symphonic Play, Shostakovich: Notes for Stalin, Nov. 14 & 15

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 Marin Alsop Leads BSO in Didi Balle’s Symphonic Play,
Shostakovich: Notes for Stalin,
Nov. 14 & 15


Baltimore, Md. (October 30, 2014) — Marin Alsop leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in the BSO premiere of Shostakovich: Notes for Stalin, a Symphonic Play™ by Playwright in Residence Didi Balle. This special Off the Cuff performance on Friday, November 14 at 8:15 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore and Saturday, November 15 at 7 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall dramatizes Shostakovich’s harrowing life during Stalin’s murderous reign in 1930s Russia, and features actors Jered McLenigan, Richard Poe and Tony Tsendeas. Please see below for complete program details.

Notes for Stalin is set in 1934 Russia, and is the real life story of what the composer endured as he prepared to write the Fifth Symphony under Stalin’s murderous reign. He was the most celebrated young composer in Russia at the time,” said Ms. Balle in an interview with Overture magazine. “Stalin and his henchmen came to see his long-running opera, and stormed out in the middle of the first act. Several days later, there was a denouncement in Pravda saying that Shostakovich was a threat to the Soviet people. What he and his family endured — he slept with a packed suitcase under his bed as he was writing, prepared to be taken away at any moment. It’s an amazing piece of music, and an extraordinary story.”

Shostakovich: Notes for Stalin was originally commissioned by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra and received its world premiere on March 1, 2013. Notes for Stalin is the BSO’s fifth presentation of a Symphonic Play by Didi Balle.

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 2013, Maestra Alsop served her 22nd 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.”

Didi Balle, director and playwright in residence
In the spring of 2013, Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) announced the appointment of Didi Balle as the organization’s first-ever playwright in residence. Tchaikovsky: Mad But for Music (April 2015) marks the fifth successful Symphonic Play™ collaboration and world premiere with Alsop and the BSO. Other commissioned works with Alsop include: CSI: Mozart, A Composer Fit for a King: Wagner & Ludwig II, Analyze This: Mahler & Freud and CSI: Beethoven. Symphonic Plays commissioned and premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra include Shostakovich: Notes For Stalin and The Secret Life of Isaac Newton.

Didi Balle’s work as a writer and director includes commissions, broadcasts and stage productions of her work from Symphonic Plays, radio musicals, musical theater, song cycles and opera. She’s created a new genre called Symphonic Plays borne out of a friendship and dynamic collaboration with Marin Alsop.

Founding director of Symphonic Stage Shows, Balle received her MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she was awarded the Oscar Hammerstein Scholarship as a playwright-lyricist. Didi Balle is also a published writer and journalist and worked as an editor for The New York Times for 13 years.

Jered McLenigan, actor
Jered McLenigan is a performer currently living in Philadelphia. He has appeared Off-Broadway in Dublin by Lamplight, winning the first Irish Award for Outstanding Ensemble. Regionally he has appeared in such productions as All My Sons at Delaware Theatre Company; The Pillowman, Rock ’n’ Roll and Amadeus at the Wilma Theater; Knives in Hens and That Pretty Pretty… with Theatre Exile; Titus Andronicus with the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre; A Skull in Connemara and Henry IV, Part 1 at Lantern Theater Company; Gagarin Way at Inis Nua Theatre Company; and It’s A Wonderful Life, a Live Radio Play at the Prince Music Theater, for which he received the Barrymore Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play. Mr. McLenigan attended Kutztown University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Richard Poe, actor
Richard Poe received the Barrymore Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Outgoing Tide at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. On Broadway he’s been part of the original companies of M. Butterfly (1988 Tony Award, Best Play), The Pajama Game with Harry Connick Jr. (2006 Tony Award, Best Musical Revival) and Journey’s End (2007 Tony Award, Best Play Revival). He has created roles in the premieres of plays by Christopher Durang and Paul Rudnick and toured the country as the First Gangster in the Tony Award winning revival of Kiss Me, Kate.

On television, he has appeared on “Law and Order,” “Ed,” “Pride and Joy” and “Army Wives,” and has had recurring roles on “Frasier,” “The Five Mrs. Buchanan’s” and was Gul Evek on “Star Trek:  Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager.” His films include roles in Speechless, Presumed Innocent, Transamerica, Born on the Fourth Of July and Burn After Reading.

Tony Tsendeas, actor
Tony Tsendeas has appeared in Didi Balle’s Symphonic Stage Shows with The Colorado Symphony and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Shows with the BSO include CSI: Mozart, CSI: Beethoven and Analyze That:  Mahler and Freud. Tsendeas’ work has received critical acclaim both in the U.S. and Europe. He was the artistic director of the highly regarded Action Theater and was an artistic associate of the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival. He is a member of the theater faculty of the Baltimore School for the Arts.  He was nominated as Best Actor in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival by London’s Stage Magazine for his performance in BeckettLand, which he also directed. Tsendeas was also nominated for a Helen Hayes award as Best Director for Wittenberg at Rep Stage.Television credits include HBO’s “The Wire,” Gary Swirn in “Homicide:  Life on the Streets,” The Learning Channel and The Discovery Channel.

Shostakovich: Notes for Stalin
Friday, November 14, 2014 at 8:15 p.m. – The Music Center at Strathmore
Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 7 p.m. – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Marin Alsop, conductor
Didi Balle, director and playwright in residence
Jered McLenigan, actor
Richard Poe, actor
Tony Tsendeas, actor

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5


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 Baltimore City.



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