BALTIMORE– The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) excitedly launched incoming Music Director, Jonathon Heyward’s, historic tenure in an expansive three-day season opener. Featured performances by the world-renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem under the leadership of their new Artistic Director, Robert Garland, and world-class Baltimore Symphony musicians, the program paid tribute to the performing arts through a powerful display of ballet and orchestral music. With Maryland Governor Wes Moore and First Lady Dawn Flythe Moore serving as Honorary Gala Chairs, the BSO Gala provided an opportunity for all Marylanders to take part in the celebration at the BSO’s two year-round homes – The Music Center at Strathmore on Friday, September 22, 2023 the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Saturday, September 23, 2023 and a Meyerhoff finale during a free community concert as a part of the return of Artscape 2023 on Sunday, September 24.

(l-r) Micah Ballard and Stephanie Rae Williams of the Dance Theater of Harlem (DTOH).   Dance Theater of Harlem performed Suite for Variety Orchestra No. 1 and VII. Waltz No. 2 by Shostakovich with the BSO.

“Music elevates, validates, and inspires us every day — it is how we tell our stories. Thanks to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, a beautiful story is being told in Maryland, with music resounding on traditional and unexpected stages in every corner of our state,” said Governor Wes Moore and First Lady Dawn Flythe Moore. “We are proud to serve as Honorary Chairs of this year’s three-day, statewide gala celebration. We are so excited to honor the incredible power of the arts and give the warmest Maryland welcome to Jonathon Heyward.”

Dance Theatre of Harlem Company
Photo Credit:  Christopher Duggan/Courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow

Guests enjoyed performances of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance, Op 46, No. 1, Tchaikovsky’s Mazurka from Act III of Swan Lake, Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, and a world premiere choreography of Hailstork’s Symphony No. 1, among other pieces. Members of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra and BSO OrchKids were also highlighted in this exciting performance.

“Our three-day opening gala is a celebration of music’s ability to transcend boundaries and unite communities,” said Jonathon Heyward. “I am particularly honored to collaborate with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras, and the BSO OrchKids during these celebratory performances as these partnerships underscore my belief in the transformative power of the arts and its capacity to inspire and uplift. The opportunity to stand at the helm of such a distinguished orchestra, alongside the immensely talented BSO musicians, fills me with tremendous pride and I can’t wait to get started.”

(l-r) Claudia Ruiz- Valerio (Mom) and Jeimy I. Valerio-Ruiz, OrchKids. Members of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras (BSYO) and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) OrchKids performed Hungarian Dance No. 1 by Brahms during BSO’s GALA performance on Saturday, September 23, 2023

The debut of a new music director is an exciting time for any symphony orchestra, but especially so as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra welcomes Jonathon Heyward, the Orchestra’s youngest and first-ever Black Music Director and the only American-born leader of any major American orchestra. His five-year tenure will begin with the BSO Gala celebration. 

“I am extremely proud of the hard work, dedication and talent displayed during our first-ever, three-day Gala celebration,” said Mark C. Hanson, BSO President and CEO. “We are thrilled to gather once again, by bringing together the power of music and the grace of dance, as we embark on a new musical journey with Jonathon Heyward as our new Music Director. Because of the ongoing support and generosity of our cherished donors, the dedication of our community partners, and the enthusiasm of our loyal ticket holders and supporters, the Gala and the exciting season ahead of us is possible.”

Baltimore Times
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