Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Announces Contract Extensions for Assistant Conductor Jonathan Rush and Artistic Partner Wordsmith


Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Announces Contract Extensions for Assistant Conductor Jonathan Rush and Artistic Partner Wordsmith

Pair Collaborate on Community Outreach in Baltimore City including Free Symphony in the City Concerts this Spring

BALTIMORE (February 8, 2022) – The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) today announced the two-year contract extensions of Assistant Conductor Jonathan Rush and Artistic Partner Wordsmith through the 2023-24 season. Both Rush and Wordsmith were first appointed to two-year positions in fall 2020 and will lead the return of the BSO’s free Symphony in the City series this spring.

Through Symphony in the City, the BSO, Rush, and Wordsmith bring the Orchestra out of the concert hall and into community locations through three free performances across Baltimore City at New Shiloh Baptist Church on February 22, the B&O Railroad Museum on April 26, and outdoors at the Patterson Park Observatory on June 1. The concert at New Shiloh Baptist Church recognizes Black History Month with a performance of works by Carlos Simon, Joseph Bologne, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Concerts in partnership with the B&O Railroad Museum and Friends of Patterson Park include a combination of classical favorites paired with pop music specially arranged for Wordsmith to perform with the BSO – all made possible by presenting sponsor BGE.

“Jonathan and Wordsmith are both incredible musicians and have also been instrumental partners in reaching and building new audiences and engagement with our community,” said VP and Chief Operating Officer Tonya McBride Robles. “Their voices, vision, and leadership are integral to our future artistic planning, and we are delighted to announce the extension of their contracts.”

Rush currently leads family and educational concert programming as well as many special events at the BSO. He also serves as the Artistic Director of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras, which is comprises three orchestral ensembles with 250 students throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Last season, Rush was a key partner on the podium in the inaugural season of BSO Sessions, a 30-episode docuseries about the BSO, and led the Orchestra in a series of outdoor summer performances throughout Maryland.

I am so joyful that the BSO continues to provide me with the amazing opportunity to grow in my talents, as well as the chance to connect with our thriving community,” said Rush. “My very first concert with the BSO was a Symphony in the City program at Morgan State University. My work here will always put the community first, and it is our duty to ensure that we always reflect the city that we live in. There is and always will be something for everyone, here at the BSO!”

Baltimore-based rapper Wordsmith has frequently brought new perspective to the BSO with his fresh interpretations of classical works. Following last month’s world premiere with James Lee III in a tribute to Frederick Douglass, Wordsmith performs a new narration of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, re-written as a 21st-century call for unity, justice, and empowerment as part of Music Director Laureate Marin Alsop’s Global Ode to Joy project this spring. Alsop’s project has worked to redefine Beethoven’s Ninth in communities throughout the world, looking to serve each community in which she conducts in a more unique and meaningful way.

“Over the past year and a half, I’ve been grateful to impact the Baltimore community through reinterpretations of classical works, collaborations with Baltimore composers, and artistic ideas that will hopefully leave a legacy for years to come,” said Wordsmith. “The BSO is world class and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of meeting the same expectations. Thank you to the BSO staff and musicians for their trust and support as we all continue to work towards an all-inclusive atmosphere in the classical world!”





Free Performances, Registration Required. Visit for registration and COVID-19 policies by venue.

New Shiloh Baptist Church
February 22, 2022 at 7 pm
Jonathan Rush, conductor

B&O Railroad Museum
April 26, 2022 at 7 pm
Jonathan Rush, conductor
Wordsmith, spoken word artist

Patterson Park Observatory
June 1, 2022 at 6:30 pm
Jonathan Rush, conductor
Wordsmith, spoken word artist




About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
For over a century, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has been recognized as one of America’s leading orchestras and one of Maryland’s most significant cultural institutions. The orchestra is internationally renowned and locally admired for its innovation, performances, recordings, and educational outreach initiatives including OrchKids.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs annually for more than 275,000 people throughout the State of Maryland. Since 1982, the BSO has performed at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, and since 2005, with the opening of The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD, the BSO became the nation’s first orchestra performing its full season of classical and pops concerts in two metropolitan areas. More recently, 2020 marked the beginning of a new era of artistry, innovation, stability, and digital accessibility, including the launch of the virtual platform BSO OffStage and a groundbreaking docu-concert series BSO Sessions. More information about the BSO can be found at

About Jonathan Rush
Hailed as a “continually rising talent in the conducting world” by The Baltimore Sun, Jonathan Taylor Rush brings passion, unique interpretation, and a refreshing energy to the orchestral experience. Rush was appointed as the Assistant Conductor for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2020. Previously, Rush served as Music Director of the Buckeye Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as Conducting Fellow for the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra. In 2018, Rush was a Project Inclusion Conducting Fellow with the Chicago Sinfonietta, and in 2019, was named Assistant Conductor. As winner of the 2018 Respighi Prize in Conducting at age 22, Rush made his professional orchestra debut with the Chamber Orchestra of New York in Carnegie Hall. Rush continues to conduct both nationally and internationally, with notable debuts including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Nairobi Philharmonic. Rush’s current mentors and teachers include Marin Alsop, Mei-Ann Chen, and Joseph Young.

About Wordsmith
Anthony Parker, better known as “Wordsmith,” is a Baltimore-based songwriter, performer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Wordsmith makes hip-hop with a strong motivational message. His mission is to entertain and educate through a message of purpose while providing clean, quality, marketable “Music for the Masses.” Philanthropy has always been a major part of Wordsmith’s core values, and he has partnered with Project PLASE Homeless Shelter in Baltimore and Kids Connection Haiti. As of 2020, Wordsmith officially opened his nonprofit, Rise with a Purpose, Inc. In 2009, Wordsmith opened his independent label NU Revolution Entertainment. He has released five albums over his career, is a Grammy Voting Member, and his album Perspective Jukebox was named Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album at the 16th Independent Music Awards. A chance meeting with BSO VP and Chief Operating Officer Tonya McBride Robles brought an opportunity to write a new narration for Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals with the BSO, which was the beginning of a fruitful relationship resulting in officially joining the organization as Artistic Partner in 2020.