Following an almost two-year search, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has appointed Jonathon Heyward as its next Music Director. The 29-year-old American conductor takes up the post - previously held by Marin Alsop for 14 years - in September 2023, with an initial tenure of five years. He is the orchestra's 13th Music Director and the first black conductor to take on the role in the ensemble's 106-year history.

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Heyward began playing the cello 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 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 and became Music Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra.

Following his debut with the BSO, in March this year, Heyward was invited to conduct the orchestra's Benefit Concert for Ukraine, whose programme included Hymn - 2001 by Valentin Silvestrov, who fled his native Kyiv earlier this year.

On his appointment with the orchestra, he says: 'It is a tremendous honour to join the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at this exciting time in its long and distinguished history. I believe we have a great opportunity to build on the storied achievements of the orchestra under Marin Alsop’s truly inspired leadership, including her founding of the BSO’s OrchKids programme, 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.'

Mark Hanson, President & CEO of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, says: 'Jonathon Heyward is the ideal person to serve as the Baltimore Symphony’s next Music Director due to his deep musicianship, warm personality, exceptional communication skills, innate curiosity, and admirable desire to make symphonic music more accessible and relevant. Jonathon has already inspired both the orchestra and audiences – his vibrant talent, bold programming, and fervent commitment to community engagement will continue to grow our relationship with the many communities across Maryland. I am thrilled to welcome Jonathon into the BSO family and to partner with someone who shares my optimism about the BSO’s future and belief in the importance of sharing live musical performances with as many people as possible.'

Heyward assumes the role of Music Director Designate at the start of the 2022-23 season.


Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.