Jonathon Heyward is Named Music Director of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
One of Classical Music’s Most Exciting Young Talents, Signs a 5-year Contract as BSO Music Director Commencing with the 2023-24 Season
BALTIMORE (July 21, 2022) – The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) announces the appointment of 29-year-old, American-born conductor Jonathon Heyward as Music Director and holder of the Harvey M. and Lyn P. Meyerhoff Chair. Heyward’s five-year contract begins in the 2023-24 season. He will serve as Music Director Designate for the upcoming 2022-23 season and lead two weeks of performances in May 2023.
Heyward’s selection was unanimous from the Baltimore Symphony Music Director Search Committee, comprised of BSO musicians, staff, and community members. In March 2022, he led three performances that included the Baltimore Symphony’s 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.
“It is a tremendous honor to join the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at this exciting time in its long and distinguished history,” said Heyward. “I believe we have a great opportunity to build on the storied achievements of the orchestra under Marin Alsop’s inspirational leadership and to explore the many ways in which we can reach the greatest number of people at home and overseas. I am passionate about the power of symphonic music to bring audiences together and to speak to all communities. The Baltimore Symphony’s irresistible artistry, energy, and optimism were clear to me from the first moment we rehearsed together earlier this year. We shared a special chemistry then and in the concerts we have given since. I look forward to seeing where that can take us in the years ahead.”
Heyward begins his five-year contract in the 2023-24 season and follows industry trailblazer Marin Alsop after a 14-year tenure as the BSO’s music director and BSO OrchKids Founder.
“In addition to being an outstanding musician who was very well received by the orchestra, Jonathon is a visionary leader with the potential to connect to our communities, be visible in the world at large, and be a strong advocate for music and musicians,” said Search Committee Chair and Johns Hopkins University Provost Sunil Kumar. “As a former student of the public school system in Charleston, South Carolina, Jonathon’s passion for nurturing inclusive educational experiences, such as the BSO OrchKids program, will help define not only the future of the BSO’s community impact, but also Maryland’s cultural footprint.”
Heyward began his musical training as a cellist at the age of 10 and started conducting while still at school. He studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music, where he became assistant conductor of the prestigious institution’s opera department and of the Boston Opera Collaborative. He then received postgraduate lessons from Sian Edwards at London’s Royal Academy of Music and was appointed assistant conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, where he was mentored by Sir Mark Elder. Heyward currently serves as the Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie.
“Appointing Jonathon Heyward as music director is both incredibly inspirational and aspirational,” said President and CEO Mark Hanson. “We are inspired by his artistry, passion, and vision for the BSO, as well as for what his appointment means for budding musicians who will see themselves better reflected in such a position of artistic prominence. At the same time, he is a star on the rise, and his vibrant talent, bold programming, and fervent commitment to community engagement will continue to grow our relationship with the many communities across Maryland.”
“Magic struck when Jonathon took the stage in March, and the chemistry between him and the orchestra was apparent from his first moments on the podium,” said Percussionist and Chair of the Players’ Committee Brian Prechtl. “Jonathon’s unique programming, strong communication skills, and ability to push the orchestra with new ideas demonstrated some of the most important musical traits we’ve been looking for in a music director”
As Music Director Designate, Heyward returns to the Baltimore Symphony next May for performances of two concert programs (May 4-7, 2023 and May 19-21, 2023). Audiences can also learn more about Heyward through the BSO’s docuseries, BSO Sessions, at BSOmusic.org/OffStage and on the BSO’s social media platforms.
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.
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 docuseries BSO Sessions. More information about the BSO can be found at BSOmusic.org.