Boston Magazine
Matthew Reed Baker
March 1, 2010

Back in 1996, conductor Gil Rose felt that “95 percent of what orchestras were playing had been written by people who’d been dead for more than 100 years.” Looking for a niche amid Boston’s crowded classical scene, he launched the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, devoted to contemporary music. More than 80 concerts later, BMOP has become the Hub’s most dynamic classical troupe. Its tag line: The Music Formerly Known as Classical. “We stole that from Prince, of course,” Rose says. 

The mission: In addition to commissioning new music, BMOP rediscovers 20th-century composers who have unjustly slipped through the cracks, such as Brandeis music professor Arthur Berger.

The versatility: BMOP is nothing if not flexible. It may consist of nine to 90 musicians, depending on whether it’s playing ballet scores, jazz-classical fusion, Japanese-influenced concerti, or a biographical opera about Oscar Wilde.

The label: BMOP started its own recording label, BMOP/sound, in 2008. By the end of 2010, Rose says, it will have released 24 handsomely packaged CDs covering the group’s wide range. It’s already garnered two Grammy nods.

The leader: Rose’s eclectic, adventurous tastes owe partly to his varied experience. Named Best Conductor of 2003 by Opera Online, he has led orchestras throughout the U.S. and Europe and serves as music director of Opera Boston.

The roots: BMOP’s mantra is “national mission with a local presence.” Its musicians are often Berklee and New England Conservatory adjunct faculty, and its advisory board of 36 composers does community outreach and preconcert lectures.

Up next: On 3/6, BMOP’s all-strings program at NEC’s Jordan Hall features work by Béla Bartók and NEC student Nathan Ball, who won BMOP’s annual concerto competition. The guest star is world-renowned violist Kim Kashkashian, playing Neharót Neharót.