Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) today announced that conductor Jonathon Heyward will become the next Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director, ushering in a new era for Lincoln Center’s summer orchestra.
A rising conductor on the national and international music scene, Heyward will serve as Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director for a three-year term beginning in the summer of 2024. Heyward’s responsibilities will include programming the repertoire for Lincoln Center’s summer orchestra, working closely and collaboratively with Shanta Thake to bring in exciting guest conductors and soloists, and further integrating the orchestra series into the larger Summer for the City festival. Heyward follows world-renowned conductor Louis Langrée who served as Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director of the Mostly Mozart Festival and conductor of the Orchestra since 2003, and will continue this legacy of extraordinary music-making with dynamic and engaging concerts.
“What an honor it is to be chosen to lead Lincoln Center’s summer orchestra,” said Heyward. “This orchestra has an incredible legacy, and Louis Langrée’s leadership is an inspiration as I embark on this new chapter of artistic growth with the ensemble. There was an unmistakable energy with me and the musicians when we first performed together last summer. It’s exciting to begin thinking through the ways we can serve New Yorkers, and explore ways to deepen and enhance the orchestral experience for new and existing audiences. I look forward to collaborating with Shanta and these unparalleled musicians as we usher in a new era together.”
“This upcoming summer will be a bittersweet one. Since my Mostly Mozart Festival debut in 1998, and coming in as Music Director in 2003, we have shared so many beautiful, powerful, and meaningful experiences together at Lincoln Center” said Langrée, Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director of the Mostly Mozart Festival. “Over the years, the orchestra musicians and I have developed a unique bond that I will treasure forever. I am honored to have served for 21 years at an extraordinary Festival that has broadened access to music for all New Yorkers for six decades. I also want to express my deep gratitude and thanks to Lincoln Center’s donors and especially to Renée and Robert Belfer for their generous and constant support. I wish Jonathon as many joys as those I experienced during this extraordinary journey. His leadership, musicianship, and connection with these wonderful musicians will be a thrill for New York audiences. Good luck, Jonathon!”
Since the launch of Summer for the City in 2022, which brought all of Lincoln Center’s disparate summer festivals under one banner, Lincoln Center has centered its efforts on curating a holistic summer festival that incorporates the beloved programming of summer festivals past into something fresh, new, and uniquely New York.
In recent years, the orchestra has made great strides in expanding its audiences to include those new to its concerts, through an expansion of repertoire and a successful Choose-What-You-Pay ticketing model.
The next chapter for the orchestra doubles down on these successes, and aims to further Shanta Thake’s broader artistic vision in service to all of New York City—continuing to break down traditional artistic silos, and introducing classical and contemporary music to wider audiences—all to forge deep and lasting connections with returning audiences and those who’ve not historically seen themselves at Lincoln Center.
Starting in 2024, aligning with Heyward’s first summer, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra will be adopting a new name that illustrates the orchestra’s integration within the broader summer festival, as well as with campus-wide initiatives and artistic explorations.
The new artistic vision and name for Lincoln Center’s summer orchestra starting in 2024 will be developed in close partnership between Heyward and Thake. One component already being collaboratively explored is the integration of repertoire that previews artists featured by the resident organizations across Lincoln Center’s campus in the coming season, helping provide an entry point and encouragement for audiences to experience music on campus year-round.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jonathon Heyward as our next Music Director after a beautiful 21 years with Louis Langrée” said Shanta Thake, Ehrenkranz Chief Artistic Officer of LCPA. “Jonathon’s inspiring artistry and passion for music making are unparalleled. I know he will continue the incredible legacy paved by Louis and these extraordinary musicians and usher in a new and exciting chapter of artistic growth. Jonathon has a keen sense for responsive and relevant programs that expand the boundaries of classical music and are welcoming to returning and new audiences alike. I look forward to closely collaborating with him to build on the orchestra’s legacy and further integrate the ensemble into Lincoln Center’s overall vision and community.”
“Shanta’s bold vision and capacity to connect with existing and new audiences have brought so much to Lincoln Center. I can’t wait to see what she and Maestro Heyward will do together.” said Henry Timms, President and CEO of LCPA. “Louis Langrée has had a remarkable tenure at Lincoln Center and all New Yorkers owe him a huge debt of thanks. With the new David Geffen Hall completed ahead of schedule and with an expanded commitment to outdoor programming, it is such an exciting time to begin a new chapter for classical music in the summer at Lincoln Center and beyond.”
Heyward currently serves as Music Director Designate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, beginning his tenure this fall, and is in his second year as a Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany. He made his Lincoln Center debut in August 2022, conducting the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra during the inaugural Summer for the City festival, and made his New York Philharmonic debut in April 2023. He leads the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra again on August 4-5, 2023 in the Wu Tsai Theater in the new David Geffen Hall with a program that includes Jessie Montgomery’s Records of a Vanishing City, Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, and the Barber Violin Concerto with violinist Simone Lamsma.
Photo: Laura Thiesbrummel