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Marin Alsop

First Woman Conductor of a Major American Orchestra

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Marin Alsop, Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, talks about the moment she realized she wanted to work in music, her mother's support of her dream and the challenge of becoming the first female 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 Sao Paulo 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 the fact that women didn’t do that, Alsop attended Yale University and later received a Master’s Degree from The Juilliard School. And after she took a risk by becoming the first woman conductor at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Alsop knew there was no turning back. Despite some resistance in the beginning, Alsop thrived at Baltimore, and 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 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.

More From Marin

Alsop discusses the importance of finding a balance between collaboration and leadership in order to be successful.

Rusty Musicians
Alsop talks about Rusty Musicians, a program she started that allows amateur musicians to learn from professionals.

Alsop discusses her views as a feminist and her belief in equal opportunity.

Women In Unexpected Jobs
Alsop talks about the idea of conditioning ourselves to be more welcoming to women in certain occupations.

Gender and Gestures
Alsop discusses how the same gesture can be understood differently when done by a man versus a woman.

Being a Role Model
Alsop talks about how being the first at something automatically makes her a role model and how she embraces that title in order to further the role of women in music.

The Gender Issue
Alsop discusses how different cultures put a different level of emphasis on her gender when it comes to discussing her work.

Studying With Leonard Bernstein
Alsop talks about learning and studying from her hero, Leonard Bernstein.

Choosing a Path
Alsop talks about her decision to join the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the importance of following your instinct.

Gender in the 21st Century
Alsop discusses her views on gender and how it doesn't affect her professional outlook.

How Conductors Practice
Alsop talks about one difference between conductors and musicians: the opportunity to practice.

Raised By Musicians
Alsop talks about how her early life differed from the norm due to the fact that she was raised by two musicians.