One of the foremost conductors of our time, Marin Alsop represents a powerful and inspiring voice. Convinced that music has the power to change lives, she is internationally recognized for her innovative approach to programming and audience development, deep commitment to education and advocacy for music’s importance in the world. The first woman to serve as the head of a major orchestra in the United States, South America, Austria and Britain, she is, as the New York Times put it, not only “a formidable musician and a powerful communicator” but also “a conductor with a vision.”
The 2019-20 season marked Alsop’s first as chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, which she leads at Vienna’s Konzerthaus and Musikverein, and on recordings, broadcasts and tours. As chief conductor and curator of Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, she oversees the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s summer residencies, formalizing her long relationship with Ravinia, where she made her debut with the orchestra in 2002. Appointed in 2020 as the first music director of the National Orchestral Institute + Festival (NOI+F), a program of the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, she will lead a newly formed conducting academy and conduct multiple concerts each June with the NOI+F Philharmonic.
With YouTube and Google Arts & Culture, Alsop spearheaded “Global Ode to Joy,” a crowd-sourced video project to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary. Together with Germany’s official Beethoven anniversary campaign and leading arts groups of five continents, she invited the global community to share the call for tolerance, unity and joy of the composer’s Ninth Symphony in videos tagged #GlobalOdeToJoy. The project culminated in December 2020, the month of Beethoven’s birth, with a grand video finale: a highlight reel, set to a performance of “Ode to Joy,” anchored by the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony, the international Stay-at-Home Choir and Alsop herself.
This year, Alsop assumes the title of music director laureate and OrchKids founder of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This concludes her outstanding 14-year tenure as music director, which has seen her lead the orchestra on its first European tour in 13 years, on multiple award-winning recordings and in more than two dozen world premieres, besides founding OrchKids, its successful music education program for the city’s most disadvantaged youth. In 2019, after seven years as music director, Alsop became conductor of honor of Brazil’s São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, where she continues conducting major projects each season.
Alsop has longstanding relationships with the London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestras, and regularly guest conducts such major international ensembles as the Cleveland Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, La Scala Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Budapest Festival Orchestra and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 2019-20, she returned to the Philadelphia Orchestra, Danish National Symphony and Orchestre de Paris, whose season she opened in September 2020.
Recognized with multiple Gramophone Awards, Alsop’s extensive discography includes recordings for Decca, Harmonia Mundi and Sony Classical, as well as acclaimed Naxos cycles of Brahms with the London Philharmonic, Dvořák with the Baltimore Symphony and Prokofiev with the São Paulo Symphony. Committed to new music, she was music director of California’s Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music for 25 years.
The first and only conductor to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, Alsop has also been honored with the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award, and made history as the first female conductor of the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms. Among many other awards and academic positions, she served as 2020 artist-in-residence at Vienna’s University of Music and Performing Arts, is director of graduate conducting at the Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute and holds honorary doctorates from Yale University and the Juilliard School.
To promote and nurture the careers of her fellow female conductors, in 2002 she founded the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship, which was renamed in her honor as the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship in 2020.