Music Director Jonathon Heyward and Yo-Yo Ma to Open Baltimore Symphony Orchestra 2024–25 Season


Jonathon Heyward and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (photo credit: Max Franz)

From Masterworks to Modern Fusion: The BSO Sets Stage for a Season of Music that Resonates

BALTIMORE (February 29, 2024) — Under the baton of Music Director Jonathon Heyward, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) announces its 2024–25 Season themed “Music that Resonates.” Building on the momentum of Heyward’s debut year, the season includes a lineup that traverses classical masterpieces, operatic marvels, jazz innovations, and groundbreaking multidisciplinary performances to offer an unmatched experience in musical exploration and community engagement.   

Season Opening 

The BSO’s 2024–25 Season, “Music that Resonates,” promises a rich tapestry of versatile performance arts that deepen community ties and bolster the relevance of the Orchestra as an institution. Heyward opens the classical season alongside one of the most acclaimed artists in classical music, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, in two incredible back-to-back Gala Concerts on September 20 at The Music Center at Strathmore (Strathmore) and September 21 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (the Meyerhoff). As the Orchestra’s largest fundraiser of the season, guests can expect surprise moments and special performances by the talented student musicians from BSO OrchKids and the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras (BSYO).   

Celebrating Home 

The BSO remains the only American Orchestra with two full-time performance homes: the Meyerhoff in Baltimore and Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD. In recognition of that fact, the season highlights the theme of home. It pays tribute to Baltimore and Maryland, incorporating a special partnership with 2024–25 Composer in Residence and Baltimore native James Lee III. Commissioned by the BSO, two of Lee’s works will see their world premieres, including the Cello Concerto, performed by the acclaimed Joshua Roman, and the Concerto for Orchestra. Lee III will also compose a new work for orchestra and chorus for the BSO’s annual Gospelfest performance. The composer’s residency encompasses an educational component, including student composition, mentorship, and workshop performances.    

Guests can look forward to programs that celebrate the soloistic virtuosity of the BSO as an ensemble, as well as individual BSO musicians. Heyward highlights personally leads three Concertos for Orchestra by Bartók, Lutosławski, and a world premiere by Lee III. On three other occasions, BSO musicians are featured as soloists, including Concertmaster Jonathan Carney (Glazunov’s Violin Concerto), Principal Bassoon Harrison Miller (Rota’s Basson Concerto), and Principal Tuba Aubrey Foard (Marsalis’ Tuba Concerto).   

Patrons will also enjoy an expansion of partnerships that highlight local vendors during a wide array of pre- and post-concert festivities at both BSO performance venues. These Symphony Social happenings enhance the concert-going experience for all audience members.    

“This season is a celebration of music that resonates with our audiences on a deep and personal level,” said Music Director Jonathon Heyward. “We want our performances to be more than just concerts; we want them to be transformative experiences.”   

2024–25 Season Highlights

Highlighting one of Heyward’s favorite genres, several programs celebrate jazz living legends and pay homage to the greats. During four back-to-back weeks in November, the Orchestra spotlights Aaron Diehl, his trio, and vocalist Mikaela Bennett in a new orchestral edition of the late Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite. BSO Principal Tuba Aubrey Foard performs astonishing feats in Wynton Marsalis’ Tuba Concerto. Alice Sarah Ott performs Ravel’s jazz-themed Piano Concerto in G, and Damon Gupton presents a Pops program of the beloved standards of Ellington and Strayhorn. To further honor the 125th birthday of The Duke, Heyward leads a one-night special tribute event in Spring 2025.    

Fresh off a season featuring soprano Christine Goerke as Artist in Residence, the BSO’s operatic journey includes works by Stravinsky (Renard) and Britten (Passacaglia from Peter Grimes), concluding with a full-length presentation of Verdi’s Aida with spectacular vocalists including the GRAMMY-winning Angel Blue, Melody Moore, Limmie Pulliam, Reginald Smith, Jr., and Mark S. Doss, together with The Washington Chorus. The Orchestra’s presentation of Aida also begins a new tradition of closing each of the following three seasons with a different Verdi opera under Heyward’s baton.   

Music Director Laureate Marin Alsop returns for two programs inspired by real heroes and mythical archetypes, including a performance featuring James Lee III’s Harriet Tubman-inspired Chuphshah! Harriet’s Drive to Canaan and Prokofiev’s Fourth Symphony, which depicts the parable of The Prodigal Son. In May, Alsop leads Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade with Ravel’s kaleidoscopic orchestration.    

A mini-Jessie Montgomery spotlight features Snapshots (a BSO co-commission) in a February program led by Cristian Măcelaru and Five Freedom Songs in a March program under Heyward’s baton.The latter has soprano Julia Bullock in two works, Montgomery’s Songs and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, whose finale text describes a view of heaven through a child’s eyes.    

The season also intentionally highlights leading composers of today and emerging voices of tomorrow, including ten works by women including Hannah Kendall, Anna Clyne’s Glasslands (saxophone concerto performed by Jess Gillam), and works by Gabriela Ortiz, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Chen Yi.   

Talented guest conductors include Dame Jane Glover, Karen Kamensek, Eva Ollikainen, Juanjo Mena, Roberto González-Monjas, Xian Zhang, and Robert Treviño (leading a 150th birthday celebration of Ravel). Featured guest artists include violinists James Ehnes, Karen Gomyo, Augustin Hadelich, and Gil Shaham; and pianists Yefim Bronfman, Yeol Eum Son, Hayato Sumino (crowd favorite at the 2021 International Chopin Piano Competition), the Jussen brothers (in Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos), Conrad Tao, and Simon Trpčeski.    

Classical Music and Beyond 

Beyond its classical concerts, the BSO will continue to present innovative programming such as the return of BSO FUSION, featuring musical mashups conducted by Steve Hackman, including a musical tribute to The Beatles and the interweaving of Radiohead’s OK Computer with Brahms’ lush First Symphony. The BSO POPS series returns with six spectacular programs, including the return of former Principal Pops conductor Jack Everly for the songs of Cole Porter, featuring vocalist Tony DeSare and tap dancer John Manzari. Additional programs welcome conductor Stuart Chafetz as he leads Broadway’s most iconic songs; conductor/trumpeter Byron Stripling in the music of Motown; conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez in a tribute to Tina Turner; and conductor Sarah Hicks in a program of Heroes and Heroines (featuring the protagonist themes from iconic film scores).   

Orchestra specials include the BSO Holiday Series featuring beloved traditions and several offerings — from Baroque to Cirque aerialists to “Love Actually” Live in Concert — across the month of December; a three-concert, family-friendly Film Series features the Orchestra playing the live score to “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “The Princess Bride,” and “Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Arts in Concert”; the return of GospelFest; and the third annual Lunar New Year that features the world premiere of a new work by Viet Cuong (co-commissioned with University of Maryland (UMD) and expands to a two-night event at both the Meyerhoff and Strathmore.    

Education and Family Programming   

Education and family programming remain a core focus of the BSO’s mission, with an array of programs offered on its main stage and throughout the community, with initiatives like BSO OrchKids and the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras (BSYO) continuing to provide opportunities for young musicians.   

Four arts-integrated Midweek Education Concert programs (10–12 concerts), designed for grades PreK–2, 3-5, and 6–8, bring students to the Meyerhoff. Tickets (including Baltimore City transportation) remain completely free for Title I schools. New this year, a partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Link Up program will invite students to play along with the Orchestra for the spring Midweek program (including a recorder program and more intensive pre-concert classroom preparation). And the BSO’s two-program Family Concert Series (for ages 5+) is the perfect introduction to classical music for children and their families.   

BSO chamber ensembles and host Maria Broom will collaborate in Music Box Concerts curated for babies and toddlers ages six months to three years. The BSO presents Music Box concerts across five programs at various venues throughout the state, including the Meyerhoff and AMP at Strathmore.   

The BSO’s most intensive music education program, OrchKids, continues to serve Baltimore City’s students, their families, and communities. In collaboration with Baltimore City Public Schools and community partners, OrchKids provides free instruments and instruction, performance opportunities, healthy meals, mentorship, and academic and social support — during school, after school, and year-round. Embracing a dual commitment to artistic and social excellence, OrchKids will serve approximately 2,000 students across seven sites and its summer “home” at Goucher College and pursue strategic expansion.   

The tuition-based Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras (BSYO) brings together 250+ students in grades K-12 from over 100 regional schools in three orchestral and chamber ensembles. This season, the BSYO will also prepare for its second international tour (including the Lisbon Music Festival in Summer 2025).    

Talented high school students from the Baltimore School for the Arts and Baltimore County join the Orchestra for side-by-sides, which includes rehearsals, a concerto competition, and a culminating concert. For middle school to college students, M&T Bank Open Rehearsals offer a glimpse into the inner workings of a professional symphony, and the expanded BSO on the GO program brings BSO musicians into schools across the state of Maryland including all Howard County and Montgomery County public high schools, for focused string enrichment.   

“Our vision for the BSO as a cherished, widely relevant and inventive orchestra impacts all that we do inside and outside our concert halls,” said Mark C. Hanson, President and CEO of the BSO. “Through exciting collaborations and innovative programming, we are reimagining what an orchestra can be in the 21st century — both as a beacon of artistic expression and a cornerstone of community engagement.”   

Music Accessibility and Community Engagement 

New for the 2024–25 Season, the most affordable adult ticket prices (starting at $25) are available on every level of the Meyerhoff and Strathmore. Partnerships expand complimentary or discounted access for veterans, students (Student Select), teachers (including members of the Maryland Music Educators Association), students and families associated with BSO education programs, and local nonprofits. To offer even greater accessibility, the season will offer live-stream options for select concerts and the continuation of BSO Passport, a program that provides unlimited access to most concerts for a low-cost annual subscription.    

Casual Conversations with Jonathon Heyward also returns, with Heyward leading engaging discussions during two of three Meyerhoff Saturday concerts, all featuring an earlier start time, no intermission, and conversation from the stage.    

The second year in a two-year residency with the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) brings three performances to The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. This partnership continues to deploy BSO musicians alongside UMD Music students in greater Prince George’s County. It brings UMD students to the Meyerhoff for a side-by-side rehearsal with the full Orchestra. Additional college campus performances are being actively planned.   

Concertgoers can anticipate the BSO’s presence extending beyond its traditional performance venues as premier BSO summer programs make a comeback later this year. Details and updates will be disclosed in a forthcoming announcement in Spring 2024.   

From the start of the season to its conclusion, the BSO is committed to artistic excellence, community engagement, education, and providing transformative musical experiences with the goal of offering a memorable season for music lovers in the city of Baltimore, the state of Maryland, and beyond.   

Ticket Information  

Subscriptions for the 2024-25 Season for the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and the BSO at Strathmore are on sale beginning February 29 through BSO Patron Support, 410.783.8000, 877.276.1444, or Single tickets for the public will go on sale in August 2024. For press comps, additional artist bios, or media materials, please contact the Communications Department at   

Venue Information  

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

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