Marin Alsop has been appointed the next Chief Conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the first woman to take up the position in the ensemble’s 48-year history. Effective from September 2019, with an initial contract of three years, Alsop currently holds the title of Chief Conductor Designate. She succeeds Cornelius Meister, who has led the orchestra since 2010.

“I am very excited about the prospect of collaborating with Vienna RSO,” said Alsop. “We share the same enthusiasm for expanding the repertoire and for connecting with new audiences. I am deeply moved by the fact that the players instigated my appointment and I can’t wait to start this journey with them, working closely with the Orchestra’s partners in Vienna, across Austria and beyond.”

Marin AlsopMarin Alsop. Photo: Adriane White

“The ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra grew artistically under the leadership of Cornelius Meister and increased its reputation both nationally and internationally,” said ORF Director-General Alexander Wrabetz. “Therefore, it was important that we find someone who would be able to continue to inspire and challenge us and we are thrilled to have been able to convince Marin Alsop to take up this position. She is an extraordinary conductor, who will further develop the RSO’s high artistic qualities. With her at the helm we’re in an excellent position for the future.”

Alsop has been Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2007 and Principal Conductor and Music Director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra since 2012. She was the first woman to hold these positions in both orchestras’ histories. Australians will recall that Simone Young has made similar history – she was the first woman to conduct the Vienna State Opera in 1993 and the Vienna Philharmonic in 2005 among many other high profile engagements.

Alsop and the RSO first collaborated in 2014 with a concert of works by Bernstein and Mahler. Their next project is a recording in the spring of 2018, with Alsop taking up her new role as the Orchestra celebrates its fifth decade.

In an interview with The Guardian, Alsop said she was honoured to be taking up her new role but that “I’m also rather shocked that we can be in this year, in this century, and there can still be ‘firsts’ for women.”

She added that her appointment as chief conductor would be “an opportunity to try to push this issue forward past being ‘the first’ and more about how we can create many more opportunities for a wide range of women in these roles and how we can change the landscape for future generations.”