High Flying, Risk Taking

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Symphony Magazine
Christina Uss
January 1, 2004

"The Boston Modern Orchestra Project is forever explaining its name. "BMOP" (pronounced BEE-mop) to its friends, the group's full name encapsulates its mission: a full-sized professional Orchestra, based in Boston, dedicated to performing Modern works. Within the "Project" element lies the group's true niche - expressing not only modern repertoire but also modern organizational structure. Artistic Director and Founder Gil Rose explains that "the whole thing was set up as an effort to create a different format for what an orchestra is. We can extract small, flexible groups for chamber performances or joint work with dance or opera companies. With low operating expenses, we can change or modulate our shape, size, mission quickly - we're not an old battleship that can't turn."

. . .The Boston Globe has dubbed BMOP "a great local success story," and the orchestra shows no signs of slowing down in the midst of its eighth season. Consistent critical acclaim helps. Board member George Halberg says he first came to check out the group "because of reviews raving about the musicianship. Friends who knew we attended Bach concerts and were going to BMOP asked, 'Are you schizophrienic?' But the programs are always exciting, always fun."

. . . "BMOP audiences understand that taking a risk is an exciting part of the concert experience, and I think they get a kick out of arguing about whether a piece is good or not. It's very different from the cliched idea of a symphonic crowd," says [Elena] Ruehr, [Composer-in-Residence with BMOP]. "This audience is excited by the argument of modern ideas, and filled with expectation at every great success and every monstrous failure."

The idea that art can sometimes fail, and that experience in itself can be fulfilling, even celebrated, isn't exactly on the agenda for most orchestras. But the BMOP audience's embrace of highs and lows, matched with the orchestra's penchant to "fly in all directions," is just the right formula to keep the modern orchestra aloft in Boston."

-Christina Uss