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 recognized 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 since 2007 has been recognized by two extensions in her tenure, now confirmed until 2021. As part of her artistic leadership in Baltimore, 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 of 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. Alsop and the orchestra celebrate their centenary in 2016.
She took up the post of principal conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) in 2012 and became 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 a European tour in 2012, with acclaimed performances at the BBC Proms in London and at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; they returned to Europe in October 2013, with concerts in Berlin, London, Paris, Salzburg, and Vienna.
Since 1992, Alsop has been 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 – Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (Principal Conductor 2002-08; now Conductor Emeritus) and Colorado Symphony Orchestra (Music Director 1993-2005; now Music Director Laureate).
She has guest-conducted the great orchestras of the world: Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, La Scala Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Bavarian Radio Symphony. In Europe, she regularly returns to the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and the Czech Philharmonic. Alsop has a close relationship with the London Symphony and London Philharmonic, appearing with both orchestras most seasons, as well as with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. She is also artist in residence at the Southbank Centre in London.
In September 2013, Alsop made history as the first female conductor of the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms in London. She returns to the Proms in 2015 to conduct the Last Night again and an all-Brahms program with the OAE. 2014-15 highlights include a European tour with the LPO and a Remembrance Day performance of Britten’s War Requiem at Southbank Centre with young musicians from the Royal Academy of Music and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. In March 2016, Alsop will celebrate Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary conducting Bernstein’s West Side Story in the Knockdown Center, a restored factory in Queens.
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. In 2008 she became a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and, in the following year, was chosen as Musical America’s Conductor of the Year. She was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2010 and was the only classical musician to be included in The Guardian’s “Top 100 Women,” celebrating the centenary of International Women’s Day in 2011. In 2012 Alsop was presented with Honorary Membership (HonRAM) of the Royal Academy of Music, London, and was named an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2014.
The latest disc of Alsop’s Prokofiev symphonic cycle with OSESP (Symphony No. 1) was released in November 2014 and the first (Symphony No. 5) was Orchestral Choice in BBC Music Magazine. Her extensive discography on Naxos includes a notable set of Brahms symphonies with the LPO, Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem with the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra, and a highly-praised Dvořák series with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. 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, 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.