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Marin Alsop to become first female chief conductor of ORF Vienna Radio Symphony

Marin Alsop to become first female chief conductor of ORF Vienna Radio Symphony
Marin Alsop will become the first female chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2019. (Adriane White)

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director Marin Alsop, whose career has included the breaking of glass ceilings worldwide, will break another one when she becomes the first female chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Her initial three-year contract begins in September 2019, the year the ensemble, associated with the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (Osterreichischer Rundfunk), marks its 50th anniversary.

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Alsop succeeds Cornelius Meister, who has guest-conducted the Baltimore Symphony on several occasions.

The Vienna appointment, which has an initial contract for three years, will not affect Alsop’s tenure in Baltimore. Her current BSO contract extends until 2021.

“This appointment in Vienna will continue Marin’s international prominence as one of the world’s leading conductors,” said BSO president and CEO Peter Kjome. “Marin’s role as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra remains unchanged.”

Kjome added that the BSO “routinely coordinates” the orchestra’s scheduling with Alsop’s other commitments. Since 2012, her major outside-of-Baltimore work has been the post of principal conductor and music director of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra — she’s the first woman to hold that job. Her tenure with the Brazilian ensemble continues through the end of 2019.

In a statement released Monday, Vienna Radio Symphony managing director Christoph Becher said that the players “unanimously put [Alsop] forward as their new chief conductor” after she conducted a Bernstein/Mahler program with them in Vienna in 2014.

“I particularly enjoyed our passionate and extensive exchanges on contemporary music and the importance of concerts for children and young people,” Becher said.

Alsop noted in a statement that she and the Vienna musicians “share the same enthusiasm for expanding the repertoire and for connecting with new audiences. I am deeply moved by the fact that the players instigated my appointment, and I can’t wait to start this journey with them, working closely with the orchestra’s partners in Vienna, across Austria and beyond.”

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