Just in: Noseda poaches clarinet from faltering Baltimore

Just in: Noseda poaches clarinet from faltering Baltimore


norman lebrecht

January 03, 2019

Gianandrea Noseda, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, has named Lin Ma as principal clarinet, starting next week, and Malorie Blake Shin as a second violin.

Lin Ma is assistant principal and E-flat clarinet at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, where players are facing a pay cut.

Noseda has so far replaced 8 players in the NSO.



  • Malcolm James says:

    So, he’s got a promotion from assistant principal to principal. This is not necessarily a case of rats deserting a sinking ship, although Baltimore does, admittedly, hjave problems.

    • Alan K says:

      Actually I believe he was selected for a trial well before the latest blows to the BSO. But clearly he must be a happy fellow. He has big shoes to fill with the retirement and passing of Lorin Kitt, a superb musician

    • MacroV says:

      Indeed, going from Assistant principal to principal in another orchestra (even a smaller or less prestigious one) is generally viewed as a step up.

      IMHO Baltimore is a more interesting if not actually better orchestra than the NSO (I go to a number of their Strathmore concerts and rarely attend the NSO, even though I work a short walk from the Kennedy Center), though the latter probably pays a bit better and has a much more secure funding base.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Not only is it a move to a principal position, it’s a more prestigious orchestra. Nicely done SIr!

    • Mock Mahler says:

      Please remind me why we have to keep ranking orchestras? Are they baseball teams? I subscribe to both the Baltimore Symphony and the National Symphony and I do not waste my concert time thinking about whether the one up (or down) Interstate 95 is “better”.

  • Sara M. says:

    Not surprising with poaching and american orchestra faltering. Like libraries, literature, and arts–americans are too busy screen starring and playing corporate worship.
    the us had (past tense intentional) serious problems–ontologically, intellectually, and spiritually. when the entire narrative is simply getting money, and getting more money–there are no values. Hence, the symphony thing in america is gonzo. The us “culture” was hustling. Nothing more. 400yrs+

    • Jon Jensen says:

      Actually, most American orchestras are not faltering, and one can hardly blame Lin Ma for seeking out one with a more secure future, let alone the promotion to principal clarinet. When other orchestras of the BSO’s caliber can offer musicians a much higher salary and greater stability, it does not bode well for the level of applicants it is likely to attract.

      • guest says:

        There are dozens of highly qualified applicants (maybe even better than he, who knows) that will gladly take his position in the BSO when it opens. This idea that the quality of ensembles will drastically fall if pay is reduced is really not true. Hell, many conservatory orchestras are just as good as the Baltimore Symphonies of the world. The number of qualified musicians unemployed or underemployed in this country is astronomical and many would gladly live on $50,000/year or whatever it is

    • Morlie says:

      It’s not poaching–he chose to audition and take the job.

    • Jon H says:

      If the focus is brands – which orchestras are – and musicians are – every positive comment from a reviewer is like an advertisement for the brand. And yes, so much of the conversation is people saying buy this or that brand. Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Boston, Vienna, etc. As long as there’s money to be made, it can obscure the art. And if we don’t let the art guide it, it just turns into a commercial. So we’re constantly in life, trying to get to the art. Some people in America (and elsewhere) are going because they love music – and not just to support an orchestra. So as important as fundraising is and takes center stage, the cart can’t get before the horse.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    The Baltimore symphony management should note the level of players it has and keep salaries up. Zinman built a great orchestra in Baltimore with an incredible discography. The current music director and management needs to continue that legacy.

  • Doug says:

    Perhaps he has been living in mortal fear of his career since that fleeting moment years ago when he made passing eye contact with Needlewomyn.

  • MockMahler says:

    YaoGuang Zhai, Baltimore’s principal clarinet, was associate principal at the Toronto Symphony for five seasons when hired in 2016. Nobody said Alsop had “poached” him, so please. . . .