Friday, October 13, 2017

BSO Puts the Pulse on Contemporary Music Making

Written by  Brynn Devereaux
Getting to the bass-ics: Esperanza Spalding Getting to the bass-ics: Esperanza Spalding

Baltimore Symphony makes classics au courant

Music is always evolving. When an artist creates a masterpiece, the world does not say, “That’s it. There’s no more music to be made.” Through inspiration and innovation, musicians build on past creative masters to develop new pieces and styles. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Pulse series shows this phenomenon first hand. The third season of BSO Pulse will kick off on October 19th with four-time Grammy Award-winner Esperanza Spalding.

BSO Pulse was created in 2015 as an innovative concert series designed to reach out to a demographic that many institutions have been struggling to reach – millennials. In this series, the BSO partners with a prominent indie artist to demonstrate the parallels between classical and contemporary music. Each show begins with a classical program played by the orchestra followed by a set performed by the guest artist. The evening culminates in a musical collaboration where indie meets classical.

“The past two seasons have been very successful,” says Associate Conductor Nicholas Hersh. “We are fluid in our approach and experiment concert to concert. It’s never the same experience twice, and each performance shows so much of what the BSO has to offer.”

With each collaboration, Hersh tailors a classical program that both captures the style of the featured artist and relates to the BSO season. For prodigal bassist, composer, and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, he chose Mozart. “Esperanza Spalding has jazz, funk – a plethora of genres in her music. She’s classically trained,” says Hersh. “Mozart plays on prodigy, and jazz owes a lot to the musical theory Mozart established.”

Along with a unique listening experience, BSO Pulse creates a different atmosphere from other symphony performances that will be enjoyed by millennials and seasoned symphony lovers. The local community celebrates with attendees during a pre-concert party where local musicians perform and vendors provide food and drink specials. “The audience can come in, grab a beer, visit Dooby’s and listen to local artists before the performance. It gives it a music festival feel,” says Hersh. WTMD is a media partner who helps promote the event and often streams a live broadcast of the concert.

In the end, Hersh suggests that BSO Pulse isn’t just about collaborating with a band. “It’s always a great feeling when we play opening classical sets and the audience connects with something they may have missed. It enriches them for the future.”

For tickets and more info visit


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