Göteborgs Konserthus Pioneering Conductor Visits Gothenburg

Event has already taken place. Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop conductor, song soloists

Concert length: 2 h 15 min incl. intermission Scene: Stora salen
365-525 SEK Student 183-262 SEK

Event has already taken place

Marin Alsop was the first woman to become Chief Conductor of a major American orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony. She puts a lot of thought behind every program she conducts. A good program should have a message, maybe even a sense moral, but at the same time offer variety for the ear.

This concert Alsop opens with James MacMillan’s The Confession of Isobel Gowdie from 1990. A piece that without words, only with the sounds of the orchestra, tells of the 17th century mass hysteria surrounding the witch trials, and especially the events of 1662 in the Scottish town of Nairn. “A Prayer for a Murdered Woman,” MacMillan sums up his work. Alsop follows this up with another story about men’s cruelty to women: Bartók’s one-act opera Bluebeard’s Castle.

At the heart of the song poem The Confession of Isobel Gowdie stands in the 17th century Isobel Gowdie accused and convicted of witchcraft. A young woman that we are aware of today thanks to her carefully archived interrogation confessions. MacMillan’s music depicts her imagined trial and execution.

Béla Bartók’s one-act opera Bluebeard’s Castle is also narrative in its character, but even more the work gives voice to man’s inner psychological landscape. The premise is stripped down: after breaking away from a previously secure existence, Judith seeks out the object of her love, a man named Bluebeard. His home, a darkened castle, towers behind them. Should she flee or accompany him in and see what is hidden in the castle’s seven sealing rooms? Diving into this spiritual labyrinth in all its musical complexity is an experience that is difficult to shake off.

Conductor Marin Alsop, who believes “music can change lives”, is hailed for her trailblazing and inspiring programmes. Alsop studied at Yale and New York’s Juilliard School of Music, where she obtained a Master’s of Music in Violin. Afterwards, she went on to train as a conductor under legends like Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and Gustav Meier. In 1981, she set up the string ensemble String Fever. Eight years later, she won the Koussevitzky Prize for outstanding student conductors. Besides leading the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Alsop has also been Chief Conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2019.


Get to know the classical pieces.


Introduction to the concert

Welcome to a free introduction to the concert one hour before the concert starts, in the Great Hall. The introduction is in Swedish.


MacMillan The Confession of Isobel Gowdie 26 min

Intermission 25 min

Bartók Duke Bluebeard's Castle 59 min


The Gothenburg Symphony, called "one of the world's most formidable orchestras" by the Guardian, has toured the USA, Europe, Japan and the Far East and performed at major music centres and festivals throughout the world. Chief conductor is Santtu-Matias Rouvali who started his tenure in 2017. Barbara Hannigan and Christoph Eschenbach are principal guest conductors since 2019. Already at the orchestra's very first years, the great Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar was appointed principal conductor, contributing strongly to the Nordic profile of the orchestra by inviting his colleagues Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius to conduct their own works. Subsequent holders of the post include Sergiu Comissiona, Sixten Ehrling and Charles Dutoit. During Neeme Järvi's tenure (1982-2004), the orchestra became a major international force. In 1997 it was appointed the National Orchestra of Sweden. During his celebrated tenure as music director (2007-2012), Gustavo Dudamel took the Orchestra to major music centres and festivals in Europe, making acclaimed appearances at BBC Proms and Vienna Musikverein. The list of prominent guest conductors has included Wilhelm Furtwängler, Pierre Monteux, Herbert von Karajan, Myung-Whun Chung, Herbert Blomstedt and Sir Simon Rattle. The orchestra also runs extensive concert projects for children, and regularly releases digital live concerts free on gsoplay.se. The orchestra has been involved in many prestigious recording projects, the latest one the complete Sibelius Symphonies with Santtu-Matias Rouvali for Alpha Classics. Earlier, the orchestra has issued over 100 recordings on BIS, Deutsche Grammophon, Chandos, Farao Classics and several other labels. The Gothenburg Symphony is owned by the Region Västra Götaland.

Marin Alsop conductor

Ausrine Stundyte soprano

Gerald Finley basbaryton

Georg Zlabinger director

Karin Tufvesson-Hjörne narrator prologue

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