New documentary charts Marin Alsop’s path to the podium

Posted on: January 28, 2022

“What makes Bernadette Wegenstein’s ‘The Conductor’ such a winning documentary is its title character Marin Alsop, the first woman to lead a major American symphony orchestra, specifically the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,” writes Simi Horowitz in Wednesday’s (1/26) Forward (NYC). Alsop was the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s music director from 2007 to 2021. “The 65-year-old New York native, passionate, steadfast and devoid of all pretension, is just plain likable. She faced many closed doors, yet persisted with neither bitterness nor rancor. Today she mentors young women and members of ethnic minorities who want to conduct…. Interspersed with archival footage, and black and white stills, the film is told chronologically and is narrated by Alsop herself. The film follows her from country to country as she engages with the musicians and conducts wonderfully rousing scores. Although Alsop met with resistance [about conducting] from the outset—her violin teacher told her, ‘Girls can’t do that’—Alsop’s father … presented her with a box of batons as soon as she expressed interest in conducting…. ‘The Conductor’ [tells] an optimistic, life-affirming, archetypical story: a woman goes on a quest, battles the dragons and wins against all odds.”