Music Director Designate, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Music Director from 23/24)
Chief Conductor, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie
Jonathon Heyward is forging a career as one of the most exciting conductors on the international scene. He currently serves as Music Director Designate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and will begin his five-year contract in the 2023-24 season. Jonathon’s selection was unanimous from the Baltimore Symphony Music Director Search Committee, comprised of BSO musicians, staff, and community members. In March 2022, Jonathon made his debut with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in three performances that included the first-ever performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15. Quickly re-engaged, he returned in April to lead a Benefit Concert for Ukraine at the Meyerhoff.Read more
Currently in his second year as a Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, in summer 2021, Jonathon took part in an intense, two- week residency with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain which led to a highly acclaimed BBC Proms debut. According to the Guardian Jonathon was “not too exhausted, though, to lead – from memory – a fast and fearless performance of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, in which loud chords exploded, repeating like fireworks in the hall’s dome, and the quietest passages barely registered. It was exuberant, exhilarating stuff.” In Colin’s Column Ateş Orga noted: “This Prom was about Jonathon Heyward, NYOGB and Beethoven. …Heyward’s a man of twenty-nine coolly heading for the stratosphere.”
Jonathon’s recent symphonic guest conducting highlights in the United Kingdom include debuts and re-invitations with the London Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. In continental Europe, amongst Jonathon’s recent debuts are collaborations with the Castilla y León in Spain; Basel Symphony, and Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne in Switzerland; Brussels Philharmonic, SymfonieOrkest Vlaanderen and Antwerp Symphony in Belgium; Philharmonie Zuidnederland in the Netherlands; and Kristiansand Symphony in Norway. In season 22/23, Jonathon looks forward to his debuts with the Musikkollegium Winterthur in Switzerland, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine in France, Lahti Symphony in Finland, MDR-Sinfonieorchester in Germany, and the National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin, Ireland. Most recently in his native United States, Jonathon made his Wolf Trap debut conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC, and this was followed by hugely successful debuts with the Atlanta, Detroit and San Diego Symphony Orchestras, leading to instant re-invitations. This year he returns to Seattle Symphony and makes debuts at Grant Park and Mostly Mozart music Festivals. In the coming season, Jonathon looks forward to making debuts with the Houston and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras.
Equally at home on the opera stage, Jonathon recently made his Royal Opera House debut with Hannah Kendall’s Knife of Dawn, having also conducted a Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as well as the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s new opera, Wake, in a production by Graham Vick for the Birmingham Opera Company.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Jonathon began his musical training as a cellist at the age of ten and started conducting while still at school. He studied conducting at the Boston Conservatory of Music, where he became assistant conductor of the prestigious institution’s opera department and of the Boston Opera Collaborative, and received postgraduate lessons from Sian Edwards at London’s Royal Academy of Music. Before leaving the Academy, he was appointed assistant conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, where he was mentored by Sir Mark Elder, and became Music Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra. His debut with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the 2021 BBC Proms earned five-star reviews and was hailed by British newspaper The Guardian as ‘an unforgettable showcase of high-energy collaboration’.
Jonathon’s commitment to education and community outreach work deepened during his three years with the Hallé and has flourished since he arrived in post as Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in January 2021. He is equally committed to including new music within his imaginative concert programmes. Those qualities were evident in his Baltimore Symphony Orchestra debut bill, which comprised Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers, Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto and the first ever BSO outing for Shostakovich’s Fifteenth Symphony.
“Maestro Jonathon Heyward shows an inspired control of dynamics. Yes, he’s working with a stage packed with musicians, but he draws from them such unbelievably immense power! That peasant cart becomes a huge juggernaut, rumbling along like an earthquake. Surely only Paul Bunyan’s blue ox Babe could pull such a behemoth! The hut on hen’s feet of that witch, the Baba Yaga, is weird and deliciously frightening. Jonathon Heyward is young, lithe and slender, graceful and precise—and throughout the evening he displayed a genius that will illuminate concert halls for decades to come.”
“… Jonathon Heyward makes Lincoln Center debut with ‘rock-star’ performance …. [it] wasn’t just triumphant. It was thrilling. Heyward gave the nearly 1,000 people attending each night’s concert a high-speed, jolting, heart-pounding roller coaster ride … The audiences in New York couldn’t seem to get enough … And though the concerts took place on weeknights, the audience called the conductor back for three standing ovations. There likely would have been a fourth, except that the crew turned on the house lights.”
“… conductor Heyward is fascinating to watch. Without a baton, he sometimes signaled the orchestra in balletic gestures, sweeping his hands across long arcs or shaping phrases in circular motions, like a potter at the wheel. Elsewhere it looked as if he were holding invisible teacups in each hand, swinging them to keep the beat. It all worked … Heyward proved himself a sophisticated interpreter … He kept every detail in place, manicured and neatly articulated … Musically polished and compelling …”
“… young US conductor Jonathon Heyward stepped in at short notice and did a marvellously incisive job, all clipped rhythms and bristling precision, drawing vivid playing from the SCO musicians.”
“Most interesting of all … was conductor Jonathon Heyward, making his SCO debut. His podium gestures are curt but clear, and he is very engaging to watch. More importantly, his line of musical argument was never less than convincing, often much more than that … The orchestra responded to him really well, pivoting on a knife edge with some of Mahler’s emotional contrasts, and suggesting that this is a relationship that might go somewhere. It has clearly got off to a good beginning. I would like to hear them together again.”
“… [Heyward] has a very solid technique and ability to study and assimilate that allow him to mark and anticipate everything and everyone with total security … excellent … appreciated by all …”
“… fearless … exuberant, exhilarating stuff … an unforgettable showcase …”
“Throughout the entire performance Jonathon Heywood conducted himself with notable discipline, switching from tiny hand movements to large expression of his upper body like it was second nature to him”
“Heyward demonstrated a level of confidence and musical intelligence that belied his youth … At the same time, Heyward tirelessly shaped the sound, encouraging subtle refinements and using expressive gestures to blend and adjust the mix. He understood that Holst’s dazzling score isn’t just about the brassy climaxes — wonderfully prepared for here — but also homed in on its varieties of mystery and awe … A wealth of meaning without artifice, as spoken by a truly gifted artist.”
“On the podium, Jonathon Heyward, assistant conductor at the Hallé, made his own mark. He drew poised playing from the Chineke! musicians, first in Elgar’s Serenade for Strings and then in Mozart’s Symphony No 29 in A, the irrepressible bounce of its finale’s dotted rhythms every bit as spirited as the composer intended.”
“Heyward forged a seamless connection among the music, the orchestra and the audience … [he] knew when to lead and when to follow, effortlessly balancing his roles as a natural showman and sensitive collaborator in service to the music.”
Jonathan Heyward conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and violinist Francesca Dego for the Apple Music exclusive: A New Dawn. The recording is available now in Spatial Audio and as a full-length concert film. A New Dawn features three irresistible orchestral works...
Jonathon Heyward is “One to Watch” on Bloomberg’s prestigious Bloomberg 50 List. The annual list features leaders of business, politics, science and technology, finance and entertainment who have made major global impact and have “defined the year 2022”. Bloomberg...
This weekend, Yeol Eum Son returns to the United States for her debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with three performances on the 9-11 December. Conducted by Jonathon Heyward, this weekend marks Jonathon’s second time with the orchestra, following a brilliant...