People in the News

The New Man in Baltimore

July 26, 2022 | By Sarah Shay, Musical America

Jonathan Heyward will not join the Baltimore Symphony as its new music director until the fall of 2023, but he is already introducing himself to the city. At a recent meeting with reporters, he shared information about his background and acknowledged the significance of his appointment, in a majority-Black city, as the first music director of color in the ensemble’s 106-year history.

“I understand that my presence here is much more significant than it would be in other cities,” he said. “[And I am eager] to be an ambassador for classical music, the greatest art form there is.”

A native of South Carolina, Heyward initially trained as a cellist and recalls skipping French class to observe rehearsals of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. “I used to sit behind the cello section listening to what the conductor was doing, and think about what was working and what maybe was not working.”

In 2015, while still studying conducting at London’s Royal Academy of Music, he won the 54th International Competition for Young Conductors in Besançon, and the following year was appointed to a two-year post as assistant conductor of the Halle Orchestra in England.

In 2017, the 25-year-old conductor stepped in at the last minute to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic after the originally scheduled conductor, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, fell ill, prompting the Los Angeles Times to sum up his performance as “Sounds, echoes of Bernstein; A young conductor impressively fills in.”

When Heyward led the BSO this past April in a benefit concert for humanitarian aid in Ukraine, he impressed the musicians with his conducting as well as his personality. At a party after the performance, recalls percussionist and players committee co-chair Brian Prechtl, a singer invited Heyward to join him on stage. “The next thing you know Jonathon is up there on that platform dancing and making that cross-cultural connection. His personality is really winning, and he’s comfortable in his own skin.”

Despite his South Carolina roots, Heyward sports a posh British accent—the result of his eight years spent studying there—and recently married an English woman who is training to be an opera singer. Although he is in his second year as chief conductor of Germany’s Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie  Heyward plans to spend an appreciable amount of time in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Sun



Law and Disorder by GG Arts Law

Career Advice by Legendary Manager Edna Landau

An American in Paris by Frank Cadenhead



Search Musical America's archive of photos from 1900-1992.