Jonathon Heyward appointed to lead Baltimore Symphony, first Black music director in orchestra’s 106-year history

Posted on: July 21, 2022

Jonathon Heyward will become music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the 2023-24 season. Photo: Laura Thiesbrummel

“Jonathon Heyward, the 29-year-old classical music phenom whose skill on the conductor’s podium has generated international headlines, was named Thursday as the next music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,” writes Mary Carole McCauley in Thursday’s (7/21) Baltimore Sun (subscription required). “When Heyward begins his five-year contract in the fall of 2023, he will be the only Black American conductor leading a major U.S. symphony orchestra and just the second in history…. Initially, symphony officials said that a successor to [Marin] Alsop, the first woman to helm a major American symphony, might not be appointed until the spring of 2024. The chief conductor of Germany’s Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Heyward didn’t even make his debut with the BSO until four months ago. But the orchestra and search committee members liked what they heard so much during the concerts in March that they invited Heyward back to Baltimore just one month later…. Heyward will be just 31 years old when he begins his new job.” Said Heyward, “One of the most important ideas in classical music is that anyone can be a part of this art form…. If a 10-year-old boy from Charleston, South Carolina, can be so moved and enamored by this music, anyone can.”