In late January of this year, conductor Marin Alsop was made an honorary member of our institution. With this act, the mdw recognised Alsop’s internationally outstanding achievements as an artist as well as her work to promote women conductors and support the musical education of children and adolescents. At the formal induction ceremony, held in the mdw’s Joseph Haydn-Saal, Rector Ulrike Sych stated the following: “We hold Marin Alsop’s multifaceted strivings in great admiration. The most profound respect needs to be expressed for the decades of great effort that she has invested in her incredible ongoing commitment to the support and promotion of young talents alongside her pioneering artistic career. With her strong personal stance, which stands out for its reconciliation of artistic excellence with socially and societally relevant action, Marin Alsop represents an inspiring role model for artists.”

© Stephan Polzer

Marin Alsop has served as head conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, and her 2007–2021 tenure as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra marked the first time that a woman had stood at the helm of a major US orchestral formation. During her years in Baltimore, she also founded a music mediation programme for socially disadvantaged children called OrchKids. Alsop has been chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra since September 2019 as well as artistic director and chief conductor of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2023. Her work is characterised by a special interest in contemporary music. She was invited to be an artist in residence at the mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna in 2020, in which capacity she became the first woman in the over 200-year history of our institution to teach orchestral conducting. 2020 also saw the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship, which Alsop founded in 2002 in order to help promote women conductors’ careers, renamed in her honour as the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship.

From left: Ulrike Sych, Marin Alsop, Johannes Marian © Stephan Polzer

mdw Senate Chair Johannes Marian emphasised the rarity and exceptionality of honorary membership in our University, whose conferral was approved by a unanimous Senate vote in response to a nomination by the mdw Rectorate. He pointed out that the course charted by Alsop’s career is wholly unique and that Alsop’s high artistic rank as a conductor is universally recognised in the international music world. Marian also emphasised how he his “fascinated with the enormous structural awareness shown in Marin Alsop’s art of conducting, with its versatile stylistic clarity, with the rich variety to be found in her repertoire, and above all with her straightforward networking of the musicians—whom she unites as conductor instead of ruling over them. This opens the door to extraordinarily direct communication with the audience.”

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