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Trailblazing Conductor Appointed First-Ever Music Director of UMD's National Orchestral Institute + Festival

Marin Alsop Will Innovate Programming, Conduct Multiple Concerts and Mentor Emerging Musicians

By Sarah Snyder

Marin Alsop headshot

Photo by Adriane White

Renowned conductor Marin Alsop was appointed the first-ever music director of the National Orchestral Institute + Festival and will lead a newly formed conductor academy and conduct multiple concerts.

The National Orchestral Institute + Festival (NOI+F), a program of the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, today announced the appointment of renowned conductor Marin Alsop as its first-ever music director. Alsop will lead a newly formed conductor academy and conduct multiple concerts each June with the NOI+F Philharmonic. 

Recognized internationally for her innovative approach to programming, she will enliven the classics and spotlight new American and contemporary composers, focusing on women as well as Black, Indigenous and people of color. One of the nation’s leading summer festivals, NOI+F brings together emerging orchestral musicians from across the country for a month of music making and professional exploration.

During Alsop’s first year of music directorship, repertoire will include works by prominent composers Jessie Montgomery, an alumna of NOI+F; Gabriela Lena Frank; Brian Raphael Nabors; and Nathan Lincoln-DeCusatis ’08. Frank leads NOI+F’s Composer Training Program, and Nabors serves as a faculty member in the program.

Alsop has a history of supporting the 34-year-old festival, serving as guest conductor each season from 1993-2000.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to join NOI+F in this new role. I deeply value the opportunity to work with these brilliant young musicians to share the joy of music-making and create a vibrant future for orchestras,” said Alsop. 

Alsop made history as the first woman to head a major American orchestra as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In Baltimore, she continued her lifelong commitment to education and to demystifying orchestral music—both central to NOI+F’s mission. Alsop launched OrchKids music program to serve Baltimore’s youth, founded the Taki Alsop fellowship to support women conductors and is also the director of graduate conducting at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute.

“As part of a major research university, we have a deep commitment to training and mentoring the next generation of orchestral musicians. We are delighted that Marin will be able to share her expertise and extraordinary talents with NOI+F participants. She is a visionary and a role model,” said Richard Scerbo, director of NOI+F. 

Launching in June 2021, the NOI+F conducting academy will give six emerging conductors the opportunity to attend seminars and classes under Alsop’s tutelage. 

“Not only is Marin a phenomenal educator and conductor, but she brings a palpable enthusiasm and curiosity to everything she does,” said Erica Bondarev Rapach, acting executive director of The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

Classical music label Naxos will document Alsop’s time with NOI+F in the summer of 2021.  Naxos will record rehearsals, performances and interviews and, using this source material, produce three documentaries that will offer audiences an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the creative process.

In 2015, NOI+F began a partnership with Naxos to record one concert of all-American music each year—Naxos’ first partnership with a summer festival of its kind. The 2019 recording “Ruggles, Stucky, Harbison” received a Grammy nomination in the “Best Orchestral Performance” category.

Alsop has an extensive discography that has led to multiple Gramophone awards. She also made history as the first female conductor of the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms in 2013, and in 2019, she was awarded the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum. She is the only conductor to receive the MacArthur Fellowship.

“Following her history-making tenure at the BSO in Maryland, we’re proud and excited that Marin will take on a leadership role with NOI+F, lending her talents to enhance the state's flagship campus through teaching and programming for the institute and festival,” said Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

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