Jonathon Heyward is forging a career as one of the most exciting conductors on the international scene. He currently serves as Music Director Designate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and will begin his five-year contract in the 2023-24 season. Jonathon’s selection was unanimous from the Baltimore Symphony Music Director Search Committee, comprised of BSO musicians, staff, and community members. In March 2022, Jonathon made his debut with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in three performances that included the first-ever performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15. Quickly re-engaged, he returned in April to lead a Benefit Concert for Ukraine at the Meyerhoff.
Currently in his second year as a Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, in summer 2021, Jonathon took part in an intense, two- week residency with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain which led to a highly acclaimed BBC Proms debut. According to the Guardian Jonathon was “not too exhausted, though, to lead – from memory – a fast and fearless performance of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, in which loud chords exploded, repeating like fireworks in the hall’s dome, and the quietest passages barely registered. It was exuberant, exhilarating stuff.” In Colin’s Column Ateş Orga noted: “This Prom was about Jonathon Heyward, NYOGB and Beethoven. …Heyward’s a man of twenty-nine coolly heading for the stratosphere.”
Jonathon’s recent symphonic guest conducting highlights in the United Kingdom include debuts and re-invitations with the London Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. In continental Europe, amongst Jonathon’s recent debuts are collaborations with the Castilla y León in Spain; Basel Symphony, and Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne in Switzerland; Brussels Philharmonic, SymfonieOrkest Vlaanderen and Antwerp Symphony in Belgium; Philharmonie Zuidnederland in the Netherlands; and Kristiansand Symphony in Norway. In season 22/23, Jonathon looks forward to his debuts with the Musikkollegium Winterthur in Switzerland, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine in France, Lahti Symphony in Finland, MDR-Sinfonieorchester in Germany, and the National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin, Ireland. Most recently in his native United States, Jonathon made his Wolf Trap debut conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC, and this was followed by hugely successful debuts with the Atlanta, Detroit and San Diego Symphony Orchestras, leading to instant re-invitations. This year he returns to Seattle Symphony and makes debuts at Grant Park and Mostly Mozart music Festivals. In the coming season, Jonathon looks forward to making debuts with the Houston and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras.
Equally at home on the opera stage, Jonathon recently made his Royal Opera House debut with Hannah Kendall’s Knife of Dawn, having also conducted a Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as well as the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s new opera, Wake, in a production by Graham Vick for the Birmingham Opera Company.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Jonathon began his musical training as a cellist at the age of ten and started conducting while still at school. He studied conducting at the Boston Conservatory of Music, where he became assistant conductor of the prestigious institution’s opera department and of the Boston Opera Collaborative, and received postgraduate lessons from Sian Edwards at London’s Royal Academy of Music. Before leaving the Academy, he was appointed assistant conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, where he was mentored by Sir Mark Elder, and became Music Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra. His debut with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the 2021 BBC Proms earned five-star reviews and was hailed by British newspaper The Guardian as ‘an unforgettable showcase of high-energy collaboration’.
Jonathon’s commitment to education and community outreach work deepened during his three years with the Hallé and has flourished since he arrived in post as Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in January 2021. He is equally committed to including new music within his imaginative concert programmes. Those qualities were evident in his Baltimore Symphony Orchestra debut bill, which comprised Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers, Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto and the first ever BSO outing for Shostakovich’s Fifteenth Symphony.