The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Welcomes New Music Director Jonathon Heyward with a Three-Day Season Opening Gala Celebration


Special collaboration with Dance Theatre of Harlem and a free community Artscape performance kicks off the historic season

BALTIMORE (August 29) – The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) excitedly launches incoming Music Director, Jonathon Heyward’s, historic tenure in an expansive three-day season opener. Featuring performances by the world-renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem and world-class Baltimore Symphony musicians, the program pays tribute to the performing arts through a powerful display of ballet and orchestral music. With Maryland Governor Wes Moore and First Lady Dawn Flythe Moore serving as Honorary Gala Chairs, the BSO Gala provides an opportunity for all Marylanders to take part in the celebration at the BSO’s two year-round homes – The Music Center at Strathmore on Friday, September 22, the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Saturday, September 23, and a Meyerhoff finale during a free community concert as a part of the return of Artscape 2023 on Sunday, September 24.

“Music elevates, validates, and inspires us every day — it is how we tell our stories. Thanks to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, a beautiful story is being told in Maryland, with music resounding on traditional and unexpected stages in every corner of our state,” said Governor Wes Moore and First Lady Dawn Flythe Moore. “We are proud to serve as Honorary Chairs of this year’s three-day, statewide gala celebration. We are so excited to honor the incredible power of the arts and give the warmest Maryland welcome to Jonathon Heyward.”

Guests will enjoy performances of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance, Op 46, No. 1, Tchaikovsky’s Mazurka from Act III of Swan Lake, Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, and a world premiere choreography of Hailstork’s Symphony No. 1, among other pieces. Members of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra and BSO OrchKids are also highlighted in this exciting performance.

“Our upcoming three-day opening gala is a celebration of music’s ability to transcend boundaries and unite communities,” said Jonathon Heyward. “I am particularly honored to collaborate with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras, and the BSO OrchKids during these celebratory performances as these partnerships underscore my belief in the transformative power of the arts and its capacity to inspire and uplift. The opportunity to stand at the helm of such a distinguished orchestra, alongside the immensely talented BSO musicians, fills me with tremendous pride and I can’t wait to get started.”

The debut of a new music director is an exciting time for any symphony orchestra, but especially so as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra welcomes Jonathon Heyward, the Orchestra’s youngest and first-ever Black Music Director and the only American-born leader of any major American orchestra. His five-year tenure will begin with the BSO Gala celebration. Those eager to get in on the excitement of Jonathon’s arrival can join the BSO for a fun game of “Find the Golden Converse.” This scavenger hunt-style game is inspired by Jonathon’s “Converse Conductor” moniker and pays tribute to his affinity for the footwear brand. Pairs of mini-converse sneakers are hidden in various locations throughout Baltimore City and Montgomery County. Participating locations like the Walters Art Museum, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, the Maryland Zoo, and others encourage visitors to try their luck at finding the Golden Converse during their visit for an opportunity to win tickets to the Season Opening Galas. More details about the game and rules can be found at Follow the fun and see the full list of participating cultural institutions on social media @BaltSymphony on Twitter (X), Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.


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

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

Features special guests Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jonathon Heyward in his debut performances as BSO Music Director.

POST-CONCERT (Strathmore and Meyerhoff Gala Performances Only)
Celebratory toast and After-Party with BSO Artists.

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

A free, community concert in Baltimore City as part of the return of Artscape. Features special guests Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jonathon Heyward in his debut performances as BSO Music Director. Tickets for the Artscape event are distributed by local charities and community organizations.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work, dedication and talent that will be displayed during our first-ever, three-day Gala celebration,” said Mark C. Hanson, BSO President and CEO. “We are thrilled to gather once again, by bringing together the power of music and the grace of dance, as we embark on a new musical journey with Jonathon Heyward as our new Music Director. Because of the ongoing support and generosity of our cherished donors, the dedication of our community partners, and the enthusiasm of our loyal ticket holders and supporters, the Gala and the exciting season ahead of us is possible.”

The BSO Gala is just the starting point of a thrilling new concert season. Music lovers can look forward to an exciting season that sees the return of the Fusion Series, Films with Orchestra, family, youth and holiday programming, and new programs that feature world-premiere performances, Casual Conversations with Jonathon, and other innovative concerts and events. Jonathon and the BSO’s new musical journey also provides a great opportunity to get closer to the music and take part in its Ovation series, a brand-new event series (for members and subscribers including passport holders) that explores an innovative and personalized approach for new and existing concertgoers. From Open Rehearsals to Virtual Afternoon Tea with Jonathon Heyward, the Ovation Series is an exciting roster of events that pairs concerts with opportunities to listen, learn, and connect with like-minded music lovers.

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 inaugural season in September 2023.

About Jonathon Heyward

Jonathon Heyward is forging a career as one of the most exciting conductors on the international scene. He currently serves as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, having made his debut with BSO in March 2022 in three performances that included the first-ever performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15.  From summer 2024, Jonathon will become Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director of Lincoln Center’s Summer Orchestra. This appointment follows a highly acclaimed Lincoln Center debut with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in summer 2022, as part of their Summer for the City festival.

Currently in his third year as 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 delivered “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.”

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 he 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. In 2023, he was named a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music; an honour reserved for Academy alumni.