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The Baltimore Symphony makes history again, naming the first person of color to serve as Music Director

Jonathon Hayward, BSO conductor designate
—Photography by Laura Thiesbrummel via the BSO

29-year old South Carolina native Jonathon Heyward, is the first person of color to lead a major American orchestra.

In 2007, the Baltimore Symphony made history by naming Marin Alsop to the podium as the first woman to lead a major American orchestra. Today, the Baltimore Symphony is making history again, naming 29-year old South Carolina native Jonathon Heyward, the first person of color to lead a major American orchestra, as its next Music Director, leading the BSO into the future.

Throughout their two-year search, the BSO board and leadership invited a dozen superb conductors from around the world to lead the orchestra. The criteria for choosing a new Music Director weighed heavily on finding the highest level of musicianship, informed first and foremost by musician feedback. But equally important is a music director with vision, leadership, the ability to connect with and be visible in the community, and serving as an advocate for music and musicians.


Those criteria were met in the selection of Jonathon Heywood, a cellist and current Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Germany. Jonathon will begin his five-year contract with the BSO in the 2023-24 season. His appointment not only has been an inspiration because of his artistic passion and vision for the BSO, but also for the inspiration his appointment will provide to budding young musicians and audiences who will see themselves reflected on the podium, as well as an example of the limitless heights one can achieve.

Read moreabout Heyward and what brought him to this place from the Baltimore Magazine.