Marin Alsop is an inspiring and powerful voice in the international music scene, a Music Director of vision and distinction who passionately believes that “music has the power to change lives”. She is recognised across the world for her innovative approach to programming and for her deep commitment to education and to the development of audiences of all ages.
Her outstanding success as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) since 2007 has been recognised by two extensions in her tenure, now confirmed until 2021. As part of her artistic leadership in Baltimore, Marin Alsop has created bold initiatives that have contributed to the wider community and reached new audiences. In 2008 she launched ‘OrchKids’, which provides music education, instruments, meals and mentorship to the city’s neediest young people. Engaging the local community, the BSO Academy and Rusty Musicians schemes also allow adult amateur musicians the chance to play alongside members of the orchestra under Alsop’s baton. 2016 saw Alsop and the orchestra celebrate the BSO’s centenary with Joshua Bell, and host the League of American Orchestras annual conference.
Alsop took up the post of Principal Conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) in 2012 becoming Music Director in July 2013, with her contract now extended to the end of 2019. She continues to steer the orchestra in its artistic and creative programming, recording ventures and its education and outreach activities, as well as their annual Campos do Jordão International Winter Festival. Alsop led the orchestra on European tours in 2012 and 2013, with acclaimed performances at the BBC Proms in London, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and further concerts in Berlin, London, Paris, Salzburg and Vienna. In 2016 the orchestra returned to Europe once again for concerts at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International and Lucerne festivals.
Marin Alsop now conducts the world’s major orchestras, with recent and forthcoming highlights including the Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, La Scala Philharmonic, Budapest Festival and Danish National Symphony orchestras, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. She has a close relationship with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), appearing with both most seasons. She is also Artist in Residence at the Southbank Centre in London. In September 2013, Marin Alsop made history as the first female conductor of the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms in London which she returned to conduct in 2015.
She returned to the Proms in 2015 and 2016 to conduct the OAE in an all-Brahms programme and Verdi Messa da Requiem on period instruments. 2015/16 highlights included a historic return for an American musician to Cuba, conducting Lang Lang and the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. In March 2016, Alsop celebrated Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary conducting Bernstein West Side Story in the Knockdown Center, a restored factory in Queens, and she will form a significant role in the world’s centenary celebration of Leonard Bernstein. In 2016/17 Alsop returns to London for performances with the BBC Symphony and Royal Philharmonic orchestras and brings the Britten-Pears Orchestra to Southbank Centre before returning to a residency in Aldeburgh’s Snape Maltings.
July 2016 marked Marin Alsop’s 25th and final year as Music Director of California’s Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, where she has built a devoted audience for new music. Building an orchestra is one of Alsop’s great gifts, and she retains strong links with all of her previous orchestras including the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (Principal Conductor 2002-8; now Conductor Emeritus) and Colorado Symphony Orchestra (Music Director 1993-2005; now Music Director Laureate).
Marin Alsop is the recipient of numerous awards and is the only conductor to receive the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, given to US residents in recognition of exceptional creative work. She was only classical musician to be included in the Guardian’s “Top 100 women”, celebrating the centenary of International Women’s Day in 2011. Alsop is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, London and the Royal Philharmonic Society and was recently appointed Director of Graduate Conducting at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute.
Alsop’s Prokofiev cycle on Naxos with OSESP continues, following an extensive Naxos discography including a notable set of Brahms symphonies with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem with the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra and a highly-praised Dvořák series with the BSO. Other award-winning recordings include Bernstein’s Mass (Editor’s Choice, Gramophone Awards 2010) and Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto (Grammy Award 2010). Alsop has also recorded for Decca Classics, Harmonia Mundi and Sony Classical.
Born in New York City, Marin Alsop attended Yale University and received her Master's Degree from The Juilliard School. Her conducting career was launched when, in 1989, she was a prize-winner at the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition and in the same year was the first woman to be awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize from the Tanglewood Music Center, where she was a pupil of Leonard Bernstein.
Financial Times, August 2016
Boisterous, athletic, perfectly poised ... Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances makes the most of Alsop’s needlepoint precision and grace ... In her hands the music retained all its champagne sparkle. But she also embraced its sobriety – in those moments when the work pauses for air.
Herald Scotland, August 2016
Alsop was utterly cool on the podium: decisive, clear, brisk with tempos, totally in control ... Her complete alertness seemed to compel the musicians to respond with the same.
Alsop impresses not only as a communicator and female role model; she is also an ambassador for classical music in the 21st century.