Alsop was born in New York City to professional musician parents.
In July 2005, Alsop was named the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO). Alsop became BSO's Music Director Designate in the 2006-2007 concert season, and in the 2007–2008 season, she assumed the orchestra's directorship, thus becoming its 12th music director. Her selection is noteworthy because Alsop is the first woman to lead a major American orchestra. The decision to appoint Alsop was surrounded in controversy when it became apparent that some of the orchestra's members were opposed to the manner in which management handled the appointment, the fact that they were excluded from the music director search process. However, the orchestra and Alsop met after the announcement and smoothed over their differences.
Since officially assuming the music director post at the Baltimore Symphony in September 2007, the Orchestra has experienced a tremendous turnaround, spurred by public excitement surrounding her directorship. Audiences have grown appreciably, the orchestra made its first trip to Carnegie Hall under Alsop, and the BSO and Alsop released a new recording (Dvorak's New World Symphony, named recording of the month by BBC Music Magazine). Alsop received critical praise for many of her concerts in the 2007-2008, notably her opening performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 5.
Alsop's commitment to making classical music accessible to diverse audiences led to the creation of her popular "Webumentary Film Series" and the free iTunes podcast, "Clueless About Classical." She recently announced a new education after-school program call OrchKids, in which underprivileged children from Baltimore will receive free music instruction; it's based on Venezuela's El Sistema program. A protege of Leonard Bernstein, Alsop will lead the BSO in a production of Bernstein's MASS October 2008, first in Baltimore, before traveling to New York's Carnegie Hall and Washington DC's Kennedy Center.
Alsop attended Yale University but later transferred to the Juilliard School, where she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees, both in violin. She founded the string ensemble String Fever in 1981. She won the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at the Tanglewood Music Center in 1989, where she studied under Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, and Gustav Meier, among others.
Alsop has been music director of the Cabrillo Music Festival in Santa Cruz, California since 1991. The festival specializes in contemporary music. For 12 years, she was music director of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, initially starting with the title principal conductor. She is now the orchestra's conductor laureate. She has also served as music director of the Eugene Symphony in Eugene, Oregon. She was associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony in Richmond, Virginia from 1988 to 1990.
In the UK, Alsop has served as principal guest conductor with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and with the City of London Sinfonia. Alsop was appointed Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in autumn 2002. She was voted Gramophone magazine's Artist of the Year in 2003 and won the Royal Philharmonic Society's conductor's award in the same season. She is currently contracted to remain as the Bournemouth Symphony's principal conductor through 2008, at which time she is scheduled to relinquish this post.
In April 2007, Alsop was one of eight conductors of British orchestras to endorse the 10-year classical music outreach manifesto, "Building on Excellence: Orchestras for the 21st Century", to increase the presence of classical music in the UK, including giving free entry to all British schoolchildren to a classical music concert.
Alsop was invited to conduct a production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide (2004) at Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York City. This production featured Patti LuPone, Kristin Chenoweth and Sir Thomas Allen.
Alsop is noted for her advocacy and interpretations of American music, but is establishing her reputation in the core symphonic repertory as well. She is the first woman to record the complete cycle of symphonies by Brahms (recorded with the London Philharmonic for Naxos Records). She is also the first woman conductor to have recorded a Mahler symphony with a major orchestra - the Fifth Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra on the LSO Live label.
Interview: Marin Alsop, music director of the Bournemouth Symphony, discusses the power in music and the power in the position of conductor
Oct 07, 2003; BOB EDWARDS Morning Edition (NPR) 10-07-2003 Interview: Marin Alsop, music director of the Bournemouth Symphony, discusses the...