MacArthur Fellows Program

Marin Alsop

Orchestra Conductor | Class of 2005

Introducing a varied and challenging repertoire with a unique presentation approach and newly interpreting classical music to orchestras and audiences alike.

Orchestra Conductor
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Poole, United Kingdom
48 at time of award
Published September 1, 2005

About Marin's Work

Marin Alsop, principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, is among the most accomplished conductors working today. In addition to her masterful conducting technique and visionary artistic programming, Alsop is distinguished by her extraordinary ability to communicate, both with her orchestra and with her audience, successfully translating her musical ideas into symphonic sound with a signature style. In presenting concerts, she often addresses audiences directly and previews short passages demonstrating themes and motifs of pieces to be played. These engaging presentations demystify challenging music for a wide range of audiences. While honoring classical music heritage, Alsop is also deeply committed to bringing the work of living composers to orchestras, audiences, and critics around the world. Her discography ranges from gospel recordings to traditional symphonies to the music of contemporary American composers. Through her musicality, her skill in making the unusual understandable, and her championing of contemporary music, Alsop defies stereotypes and offers a new model of leadership for orchestras in the U.S. and abroad.


Marin Alsop studied at Yale University (1973-75) and received a B.M. (1977) and an M.M. (1978) from The Juilliard School. As a violinist, she performed with the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet, the New York Chamber Symphony, and the American Composers Orchestra, among others. She studied conducting with Carl Bamberger, Harold Farberman, Leonard Bernstein, Gustav Meier, and Seiji Ozawa, and served as music director for the Eugene Symphony Orchestra (Oregon) and the Long Island Philharmonic (1989-95). In 1991, she was appointed music director of the Cabrillo Music Festival, and in 1993, music director of the Colorado Symphony. Alsop assumed her current position, principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, in 2001. Beginning September of 2007, Alsop will become the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Recent News

Marin Alsop is currently Music Director of the Baltimore and São Paulo Symphony Orchestras. Her success has been recognized by extensions to her tenure, until 2021 and 2019, respectively. She remains Music Director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Alsop is recognized throughout the world for her innovative approach to programming and for her deep commitment to education and to the development of music for all ages. She has guest-conducted most of the world’s great orchestras, including those of Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles; the Royal Concertgebouw, La Scala Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. In September 2013, Alsop made history as the first female conductor of the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms in London and was immediately re-invited for 2015. Alsop is the recipient of numerous awards, including many for her extensive recordings. As a protégé of Leonard Bernstein, she was awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize.

Updated August 2015

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Please credit: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

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