Marin Alsop, First Woman Conductor of a Major American Orchestra

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Marin Alsop is a lot more than just the first female conductor of a major American orchestra. Alsop is also the Chief Conductor of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Emeritus of the Bournemouth Symphony, Conductor Laureate of the Colorado Symphony and Music Director of the Cabrillo Festival. She was the first artist to win Gramophone’s “Artist of the Year” award and the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Conductor Award in one season, not to mention that she won the Classical Brit Award for Best Female Artist that same year.

Raised in New York, Alsop found her love of music at an early age. With a mother who supported her dream of being a conductor despite there being few women in the profession, Alsop attended Yale University and later received a Master’s Degree from The Juilliard School. After taking the risk of becoming the first woman conductor at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Alsop knew there was no turning back. Despite some initial resistance, Alsop thrived at Baltimore. In 2009, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra extended her tenure through 2015.

Now, Alsop has been the first conductor named to the MacArthur Fellowship and is a regular guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. Alsop also takes her talents overseas, where she conducts the London Symphony and London Philharmonic as well as other orchestras all over the world.