The Conductor Makes its TV Debut on PBS’s Great Performances

MacArthur Fellow Marin Alsop – named 2021 Classical Woman of the Year by American Public Media’s Performance Today and the first woman to serve as the head of a major orchestra in the United States, South America, Austria and Britain – is the subject of the new award-winning documentary The Conductor, which makes its television debut today, Friday, March 25 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS, and the PBS Video app in celebration of Women’s History month. Coinciding with the PBS broadcast, Alsop also conducts an all-female program in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall today, leading the American Composers Orchestra in music of Lisa Bielawa, Anna Clyne, Hannah Kendall, Paula Matthusen and Dai Wei.


Filmmaker Bernadette Wegenstein’s The Conductor premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in summer 2021, followed by theatrical screenings this past January and February in New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. The winner of the Naples International Film Festival’s 2021 Focus on the Arts Award, the documentary tells Alsop’s story – from her beginnings as an ambitious nine-year-old violinist who longed to conduct to her appointment as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra – through a combination of intimate interviews, moments from her professional and private life, encounters with cognoscenti in the music world, previously unseen archival footage with her mentor Leonard Bernstein, and vérité scenes of her teaching and mentoring the next generation of female conductors through the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship. Calling it “a riveting, dynamic portrait,” the Bay Area Reporter observes: “Alsop is a necessary force of nature in the classical music world and this documentary is an inspiring tribute to her.”

During her outstanding 14-year tenure as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony, Alsop led the orchestra on its first European tour in 13 years, released multiple award-winning recordings, conducted more than two dozen world premieres, and founded OrchKids, “arguably the most impressive education program of any ensemble in the country” (New York Times). She now serves as Chief Conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chief Conductor and Curator of Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, where she curates and conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s summer residencies.


Deeply committed to championing the works of women composers, Alsop also leads the American Composers Orchestra tonight in an all-female program of premieres at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. The evening’s centerpiece is the New York premiere of Lisa Bielawa’s Sanctuary, a Carnegie co-commission, with its dedicatee, violinist Jennifer Koh, as soloist. This shares the program with the world premieres of Dai Wei’s Invisible Portals and Paula Matthusen’s Prophecy in Reverse, the U.S. premiere of Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama by Hannah Kendall, and the New York premiere of Restless Oceans by Grammy nominee Anna Clyne, a defiant work in which the musicians stand and sing to embrace the power of women.