Baltimore Symphony taps Jonathon Heyward

Jonathon Heyward, the 29-year-old chief conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany, has been named the new music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, beginning in the 2023-24 season.

Heyward, a cellist and graduate of the Boston Conservatory, will be the first conductor of color to lead the Baltimore Symphony, and one of few to have led a major US orchestra. He succeeds Marin Alsop, a pioneering female music director.

The New York Times’ Javier C. Hernández reports that Heyward “would work to make the orchestra more relatable by programming a wider variety of works, featuring a greater diversity of performers and moving some concerts away from traditional venues.”

“It’s simply a knack of being able to really understand what the community needs and listening to what the community needs and then being able to get them in the door,” Heyward told Hernández. “If a 10-year-old boy from Charleston, South Carolina, with no music education background, with no musicians in the family, can be enamored and amazed by this, by the best art form there is – classical music – then I think anyone can.”