Leonard Bernstein was a thinker, teacher, author, television star, provocateur, humanitarian and he was my hero. As with all true mentors, Bernstein taught me much more than a craft. He showed me the enormous power of music and how important it is to share it with as much of humanity as is possible. He showed us that classical music is a powerful force that can transform lives as well as inspire and move people and he lived by those principles. Since coming to Baltimore six years ago, my experiences with the amazing people of this city have only reaffirmed and strengthened my belief in the power of music—from the 2nd grade OrchKid who lights up when given an instrument for the very first time, to the 68 year-old retiree who dusts off their violin to join in an evening of “Rusty Musicians” with the BSO.
Unfortunately, many of the residents of Baltimore City, including those in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, do not have, be it by choice or circumstance, access to these important and powerful musical experiences. I am constantly thinking how to change this cultural divide, and how to use the BSO as a vehicle for community building not just great orchestral music. In my ideal world, the Meyerhoff would become a destination point for year-round activity that mirrors the rich diversity of Baltimore City in both audience and cultural offerings; is equipped with the latest technology and design to bolster hands-on interaction; and, becomes an area for thought and discourse on issues of all kinds.
This weekend, March 2-4, a piece of my dream is becoming a reality. The first-ever WOW Festival will bring thousands together for three days of talks, debates, performances, films and workshops that celebrate and provide a voice to the women of Baltimore and beyond. Not only do I hope it will empower and inspire many of our city’s residents, many of whom will have never before set foot inside the Meyerhoff; but also, I hope it will give people pause to come back and reconsider what the power of music means to them.