Jonathon Heyward and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Announce Debut 2023-24 Season of His Historic Tenure and Appointment


Heyward focuses his inaugural season on community initiatives, new and expanded concert series, and inclusive programming

BALTIMORE (February 27, 2023) Today the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) celebrates the announcement of its historic 2023-24 season in a special program featuring incoming music director, Jonathon Heyward, on the podium and in conversation with  WYPR’s Tom Hall. This first-of-its-kind event occurs at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Meyerhoff), beginning at 7:30 pm (doors open at 7 pm). As part of the new community-focused vision for the BSO, the celebration is open to everyone and complimentary with registration.

Season Opening

Serving as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 13th music director, and first American-born of mixed heritage, Heyward aims to make music performed by one of America’s great orchestras more accessible to all Marylanders. To launch this initiative, Heyward and the Orchestra host an expansive three-day celebration across the BSO’s two year-round homes and featuring the in a program that combines two art forms – dance and music.

For the first time ever, the BSO will celebrate the start of the new season at The Music Center at Strathmore (Strathmore) on Friday, September 22, 2023. On Saturday, September 23, 2023, the BSO’s signature Gala returns in full form to the Meyerhoff with an after-party open to all concert attendees. Closing the weekend of celebrations, on Sunday, September 24, 2023, Jonathon Heyward leads the Orchestra in his first free community concert as part of the return of Artscape.

“This season is a monumental and historic one for us,” said BSO’s President and CEO, Mark C. Hanson. “Under the artistic direction of Jonathon Heyward, the Baltimore Symphony will present compelling and relevant performances that have the potential to captivate new and long-time audiences alike.”

“It is so exciting to be starting my first season as music director of the Baltimore Symphony,” says Heyward. “It’s a position I have been dreaming of since the beginning of my musical life and I feel so very blessed to be able to take on this responsibility. It is a wonderful opportunity to sincerely connect with the people of Baltimore and encourage greater access to this amazing art form that we all love.”

Hall for All

As the largest arts organization in Maryland, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is committed to sharing the magic of music with more people, more often. By actively listening, learning, and responding to the needs of the community, ongoing efforts to expand the range of programming and events at the Meyerhoff is just one of many ways the BSO is pivoting to become a more inclusive space. The BSO’s “Hall for All” initiative maintains the goal of providing access and opportunities for musical excellence that all Marylanders can enjoy. In addition to phenomenal concerts starring the world-class orchestra, performances by local artists, concerts featuring the talented OrchKids and Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra student musicians, special celebrations, and local partnerships, the BSO is actively transforming the Meyerhoff into a welcoming space for everyone.

Music in Your Backyard

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra extends its reach beyond the Baltimore region and serves as Maryland’s premier orchestra. By performing weekly in one of the finest concert halls in the country – The Music Center at Strathmore, the BSO brings world-class symphonic music that much closer to residents of Montgomery County and the broader DC metropolitan region.

Season Highlights:

Season Summary

In this first year of an initial five-year contract with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Jonathon Heyward will conduct seven subscription weeks on the Classical Series, introducing a new Casual Conversations format on three Saturdays inclusive of an earlier start time, no intermission, and post-concert activity. In addition to tackling Mahler’s 6th Symphony, Heyward precedes an immersive four-year exploration of Verdi’s operas beginning in 2024-25 with another vocal masterpiece, Orff’s Carmina Burana. Also setting the stage for an exciting operatic investment over the course of his tenure, the BSO welcomes preeminent soprano Christine Georke as artist in residence. She closes the season under Jonathon Heyward’s baton in one of three programs including works by Barber, Wagner, and Strauss. Heyward showcases his skill as a collaborator with today’s top talent, joined by superstar artists Jean-Yves Thibaudet; Emanuel Ax, Simone Lamsma BSO Principal Trumpet Andrew Balio, one of four subscription programs featuring BSO musicians as soloists.

Returning after his two-year tenure as BSO Artistic Advisor, James Conlon will lead three programs, and Music Director Laureate, Marin Alsop will lead two programs.

Two classical subscription concerts, a special Lunar New Year program, and local partnerships come together in the BSO’s Celebrate Asia initiative, spearheaded by members of the Orchestra and feature Asian talent on the podium, stage, and score. Subscription highlights include conductor Ken-David Masur and cellist Zlatomir Fung in a program featuring Japanese composer Hosokawa’s Meditation to the Victims of Tsunami 3.11 and Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No. 1; and composer/conductor Tan Dun in a program of his own works, including the US premiere of a new concerto for five ancient Chinese instruments with orchestra.

Beyond the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s classical season, BSO FUSION, returns to the Meyerhoff and makes its debut at The Music Center at Strathmore. Meanwhile, the POPS series, welcomes back longtime Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly in two special performances as well as welcoming back vocalist Capathia Jenkins for a program of She’s Got Soul led by Lucas Waldin. The Pops season closes with a blockbuster film special.

Orchestra specials include the Holiday Series featuring beloved traditions, a pops program, and several specials across the month of December; a new three-concert Film Series including How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Back to the Future, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens; and special visits to regional performing arts venues across the subscription season.


Superstar soprano Christine Goerke is the BSO’s new ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE during the 2023-24 season. Performing works by Barber, Wagner, and Strauss with the BSO, she will set the stage for an exciting operatic investment over the course of Heyward’s tenure. With an educational component to her residency, she is featured across three programs alongside conductors: Jonathon Heyward, James Conlon, and David Danszmayr.

Celebrate Asia

A multi-program celebration of Asian music and culture includes the 2nd Annual Lunar New Year Concert. Celebrate Asia programs feature composers Unsuk Chin and Tan Dun, conductors Jun Märkl, Ken-David Masur, Lawrence Loh, and BSO Principal Clarinetist YaoGuang Zhai.

BSO Commissions

Two works by Baltimore’s own James Lee III, including a special world premiere, bookend the Classical Season in advance of Lee III assuming the role of BSO COMPOSER-IN-RESIDENCE throughout the BSO’s 2024-25 Season.

In addition to Lee III, Wynton Marsalis, and ARTISTIC-PARTNER Wordsmith are commissioned for the season. In total, the 2023-24 season features the works of 16 living composers.

BSO Soloists

Among a host of phenomenal soloists, the BSO is thrilled to feature four outstanding members of the Orchestra as concerto soloists: Principal Clarinet YaoGuang Zhai, Principal Oboe Katherine Needleman, Concertmaster Jonathan Carney, and Principal Trumpet Andrew Balio.

New and Expanded Series

A new College Campus Concert series will take Jonathon Heyward and the BSO to local and regional universities throughout the season.

A new Casual Conversations concert series aims to make extraordinary music accessible to everyone. make extraordinary feature an earlier start time, no intermission, and plenty of opportunities to listen and learn. On three Saturdays this coming season, a selection from the week’s classical program will be featured in performance and conversation.

A new Film with Orchestra concert series features the opportunity to subscribe to packages that include three full-length studio films that are shown on a large screen alongside the live Orchestra, playing the score to the movie in real-time. Movie lovers are in for a treat How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Back to the Future, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens are featured.

The popular BSO Fusion series is back at the Meyerhoff and better than ever as it expands to Strathmore for the first time. The Fusion series blends elements of classical and contemporary music from genres spanning hip-hop, pop, and rock. The curated programs usher new audiences into the symphonic experience by presenting well-known, chart-topping music alongside traditional composers, all performed by the Baltimore Symphony. The series also highlights hyper-local collaborations with partners in the region.

Symphony in the City makes it return by taking the Orchestra beyond the walls of the hall and into the community. With full Orchestra performances hosted in libraries, churches, community centers, public parks, and more, Baltimoreans can enjoy great music right in their neighborhoods. The new season also includes a collaborative partnership with Baltimore City Recreation and Parks. This three-concert series is open to all and completely free.


The BSO’s beloved Pops concerts continue to feature the full orchestra performing American favorites, popular music, Broadway show tunes, film music, and more throughout the season. This season’s series will see a variety of amazing talent, continued amazing performances, and a special return of former Principal Pops Conductor, Jack Everly, for two riveting programs.


A new partnership with Baltimore School for the Arts focuses on mentorship and education from professional musicians will serve as a pipeline to get into the orchestral industry.

A focus on hyper-local partnerships including Mt. Vernon neighbor and BSO official collaborative partner Revival Hotel with the return of the pre-concert party experience “Lit Lobby” at the Meyerhoff.


Subscriptions for the 2023-24 season for the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and the BSO at Strathmore are on sale beginning February 27 through BSO Patron Support, 410.783.8000, 877.BSO.1444, or Single tickets for the public will go on sale in August 2023. For press comps, additional artist bios, or media materials, please contact the Communications Department at


Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Meyerhoff)
1212 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

The Music Center at Strathmore (Strathmore)
5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD, 20852

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.

In July 2022, the BSO once again made musical history with its announcement that Jonathon Heyward would succeed Music Director Laureate and OrchKids Founder Marin Alsop as the Orchestra’s next Music Director. Maestro Heyward begins his five-year contract in the 2023-24 season.

About Jonathon Heyward

Originally trained as a cellist and chamber musician and formerly a student of the Charleston, South Carolina Public School System, he first came to an affinity for classical music at the age of 10. As his career progressed, Heyward went on to assume the position of Assistant Conductor at both the Boston Conservatory opera department and the Boston Opera Collaborative, where he worked on such productions as La Bohème, Die Zauberflöte, and The Rape of Lucretia. In 2013, Heyward became the youngest ever semi-finalist at the Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition at the age of 21, and, soon after, was appointed Associate Director of the Hampstead Garden Opera Company in London. Winner of the 2015 Besançon International Conducting Competition, in 2016, he completed his postgraduate studies in conducting with Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music. In the 2017-2018 season, Heyward was selected as a Los Angeles Philharmonic Dudamel Conducting Fellow, later stepping in to make his subscription debut with Hilary Hahn as part of the orchestra’s Bernstein @ 100 Celebration at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

At the end of the 2018-19 season, Heyward completed three years as Assistant Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra under the mentorship of Sir Mark Elder. Currently, Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, in the summer of 2021, Heyward 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.