Marin Alsop (born October 16, 1956) is an American conductor and violinist. She is the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra.
Early life and education 
Alsop was born in New York City to professional musician parents. She attended Yale University, but later transferred to the Juilliard School, where she earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in violin. She founded the string ensemble String Fever in 1981. She won the Koussevitzky Prize as outstanding student conductor at the Tanglewood Music Center in 1989.
Early career 
Alsop has been music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, California, since 1992. The festival specializes in contemporary orchestral music. From 1993 to 2005, she was first principal conductor and then music director of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. She is now the orchestra's conductor laureate. Alsop has also served as music director of the Eugene Symphony in Eugene, Oregon. She was associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony in Richmond, Virginia, from 1988 to 1990. On September 20, 2005, Alsop became the first conductor ever to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra 
In September 2007, Alsop was appointed the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), having been named Music Director Designate for the 2006-07 concert season. Her selection is noteworthy because Alsop is the first woman to hold this position with a major American orchestra. The initial controversy surrounding her choice stemmed from significant resistance from the orchestra's players, who insisted they had not had enough voice in the search process. The orchestra and Alsop met after the announcement and apparently smoothed over some of their differences. In June 2009, the orchestra announced the extension of her contract for another five years, through August 2015.
Since she became music director, Alsop's initiatives with the Baltimore Symphony have included the "Webumentary Film Series" and a free iTunes podcast, "Clueless About Classical." She recently announced a new educational program called "OrchKids", in which underprivileged Baltimore children will receive free music instruction, based on Venezuela's El Sistema program. Alsop was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008.
In the UK, Alsop has served as principal guest conductor with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and with the City of London Sinfonia. Alsop became Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 2002 and served in the post until 2008. She was voted Gramophone magazine's Artist of the Year in 2003 and won the Royal Philharmonic Society's conductor's award in the same season. In April 2007, Alsop was one of eight conductors of British orchestras to endorse the 10-year classical music outreach manifesto, "Building on Excellence: Orchestras for the 21st Century", to increase the presence of classical music in the UK, including giving free entry to all British schoolchildren to a classical music concert. Alsop received an honorary degree of Doctor of Music from Bournemouth University on 7 November 2007.
Alsop is noted for her advocacy and interpretations of American music, but is establishing her reputation in the core symphonic repertory as well. She is the first woman to record the complete cycle of symphonies by Brahms (recorded with the London Philharmonic for Naxos Records). She is also the first female conductor to have recorded a Mahler symphony with a major orchestra, the Fifth Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra on the LSO Live label.
During the final round of the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition session 2010 for piano, she conducted the National Orchestra of Belgium, accompanying the twelve finalists in Target by the South Korean composer Jeon Minje, winner of the 2009 composition competition, and in the concerto of their choice.
In January 2011 Alsop was appointed as an Artist in Residence at London's Southbank Centre for the 2011-12 season.
Latin America 
In 2012 Alsop replaced Yan Pascal Tortelier as principal conductor of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra and took it on a European tour, to UK, Germany and Netherlands.
Personal life 
Since 1990, Alsop's partner has been Kristin Jurkscheit, a horn player. They have a son, and Alsop has spoken publicly about her family. While Alsop was conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, of which her partner was a member, their relationship provoked controversy, though Alsop replied that the relationship predated her appointment to lead the orchestra and had no bearing on her job performance.