Composition Today
David Bruce
November 19, 2007

Catherine Stephan, Executive Director of Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP)

Tell us about the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, how it was formed, it’s raison d’etre.

BMOP is the brainchild of Gil Rose. It started with one introductory concert, with very little sense of whether there would be a second. 10 years later, BMOP is a $1 Million organization with the resources and drive to change the way audiences relate to today’s music. We have performed more than 50 programs, presented more than 40 premieres, and released 13 world premiere CDs. It is thrilling to see audiences and composers come together to share a musical experience - and not just in Boston’s hallowed concert halls.

Looking ahead, BMOP’s mantra is “National identity. Local presence.” We are starting to broadcast that BMOP is a new orchestral model. Nationwide, we are the only new music orchestra that has the mission and potential to commission, perform, record, and tour new works.

Tell us about your forthcoming concert.

Boston Connection is the perfect example of how life goes on after the 10th anniversary. The milestones never stop. In January we will celebrate our 10th year as the Affiliate Orchestra for New Music at New England Conservatory, which spotlights composers who claim Boston as their home. This year’s concert reprises significant works by Michael Gandolfi and Leon Kirchner, and also features the world premiere of Ezra Sims’s double clarinet concerto. It also includes the winners of our annual composition contest and concerto competition. We always look forward to that part of the Boston Connection program; BMOP is committed to identifying and presenting the next generation of composers and performers, and NEC’s students have always delivered exciting performances.

An unexpected highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the Ditson Conducting Award to Gil. It is wonderful to see him recognized for revitalizing the new music and orchestral communities in Boston and beyond.

Does the group focus on playing specific types of music?

Our one requirement is that the music has the potential to influence the future of orchestral music. Beyond that, we are not only open by committed to exploring the broad range of styles that define 20th and 21st century music. On the same season we might feature music for indigenous instruments, film, electronics, ballet, performance artists - and perhaps a vocal acrobat or two.

How do you go about programming your concerts?

All I can say is that The Boston Globe said it best: “Gil Rose is some kind of genius.”

How do you respond to unsolicited work- do you give feedback? Do you ever commission new work yourself?

I can attest that Gil listens to every work that he receives. Unfortunately, he can’t respond to everyone, but we are always adding works and programming ideas into the pipeline. We’re fortunate to have an evolving network of composers to collaborate with. Often, if the right piece doesn’t present itself we will talk about a commission. In fact, nearly half of the pieces that we have premiered were commissioned by BMOP.

What are you hopes and intentions for your new record label BMOP Sound?

Gil and I created BMOP/sound to keep up with BMOP’s aggressive recording agenda. Essentially, we were producing more masters than we could place with other labels. Audiences are always surprised to hear this. The truth is, recording is essential to our mission; there are only so many concerts that we can present. The ability to record and the freedom of our own label allows us to break down every barrier between audiences and artists - no holds barred. Our hope is that in the end we will have ushered important new works into the musical canon.

How can people find out more about you?

To learn more about BMOP, visit our website