Marin Alsop/Baltimore Symphony Orchestra — Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (Naxos)
When she was growing up Marin Alsop had two posters on her wall — one featured the Beatles, the other was Leonard Bernstein.
"My dad eventually took me to a concert, a live concert when I was about nine years old," she recalls, "and Bernstein was conducting and as soon as I saw him on the podium I leaned over my dad and said, 'This is so cool. I really want to be the conductor.'"
Marin Alsop's dream to become a conductor did come true. In 1989, her fantasy became reality, when she earned the opportunity to study with the legendary Leonard Bernstein.
"When I eventually became his student and went to Tanglewood to study with him you can imagine, I mean I was so excited about it that I was concerned that I might have a heart attack and miss it because I was so excited."
More than 30 years later, Marin Alsop continues to break ground in the world of classical music. In 2007, she was appointed music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the first woman to head a major American orchestra. Together, they've just released their newest recording.
You've recently released the complete ballet Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev. What is it about his music that attracts you?
"Oh, I absolutely adore Prokofiev. And, particularly the score to Romeo and Juliet is a piece that I first played as a violinist in my 20s. This is also the piece where I first, when I was a teenager, I first heard saxophone in the orchestra and I thought, 'Oh what is that incredible sound?' So, I guess I'm struck immediately by the orchestration.
"And the way this score conveys the anguish, the brutality, the violence, the passion, the love. The way he's able to capture the narrative of Shakespeare's tale really moves me in a very deep way and of course having that connection to having played it when I was a young musician makes it even more special."
To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (Amazon)