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Conductor Jonathon Heyward Named Next Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director of Lincoln Center’s Summer Orchestra

Begins Three-Year Term in Summer 2024


© Laura Thiesbrummel

NEW YORK, NY (May 31, 2023) – Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) today announced that conductor Jonathon Heyward will become the next Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director, ushering in a new era for Lincoln Center’s summer orchestra.

A rising conductor on the national and international music scene, Heyward will serve as Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director for a three-year term beginning in the summer of 2024. Heyward’s responsibilities will include programming the repertoire for Lincoln Center’s summer orchestra, working closely and collaboratively with Chief Artistic Officer Shanta Thake to bring in exciting guest conductors and soloists, and further integrating the orchestra series into the larger Summer for the City festival. Heyward follows world-renowned conductor Louis Langrée who served as Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director of the Mostly Mozart Festival and conductor of the Orchestra since 2003 and will continue this legacy of extraordinary music-making with dynamic and engaging concerts. 

 “What an honor it is to be chosen to lead Lincoln Center's summer orchestra," said Heyward. "This orchestra has an incredible legacy, and Louis Langrée's leadership is an inspiration as I embark on this new chapter of artistic growth with the ensemble. There was an unmistakable energy with me and the musicians when we first performed together last summer. It's exciting to begin thinking through the ways we can serve New Yorkers and explore ways to deepen and enhance the orchestral experience for new and existing audiences. I look forward to collaborating with Shanta and these unparalleled musicians as we usher in a new era together.”

“This upcoming summer will be a bittersweet one. Since my Mostly Mozart Festival debut in 1998, and coming in as Music Director in 2003, we have shared so many beautiful, powerful, and meaningful experiences together at Lincoln Center,” said Langrée, Renée and Robert Belfer Music Director of the Mostly Mozart Festival. "Over the years, the orchestra musicians and I have developed a unique bond that I will treasure forever. I am honored to have served for 21 years at an extraordinary Festival that has broadened access to music for all New Yorkers for six decades. I also want to express my deep gratitude and thanks to Lincoln Center’s donors and especially to Renée and Robert Belfer for their generous and constant support. I wish Jonathon as many joys as those I experienced during this extraordinary journey. His leadership, musicianship, and connection with these wonderful musicians will be a thrill for New York audiences. Good luck, Jonathon!” 

“The orchestra is thrilled to welcome Jonathan Heyward to the Mostly Mozart family,” said Ann Kim, Cellist and Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra Committee Chair. “The connection between us and Maestro Heyward at the podium last summer was palpable, and we know he will continue this orchestra's legacy of incredible music-making, introducing classical music to New Yorkers, and making classical music accessible and relevant. We are grateful to Louis Langrée for an inspirational two decades at the helm and for the lasting impact he will have on all of us. We will miss him dearly. On behalf of the musicians, we look forward to this next chapter with Maestro Heyward, and seeing where this exciting partnership will take us.”

Since the launch of Summer for the City in 2022, which brought all of Lincoln Center’s disparate summer festivals under one banner, Lincoln Center has centered its efforts on curating a holistic summer festival that incorporates the beloved programming of summer festivals past into something fresh, new, and uniquely New York. 

In recent years, the orchestra has made great strides in expanding its audiences to include those new to its concerts, through an expansion of repertoire and a successful Choose-What-You-Pay ticketing model. 

The next chapter for the orchestra doubles down on these successes and aims to further Shanta Thake’s broader artistic vision in service to all of New York City—continuing to break down traditional artistic silos, and introducing classical and contemporary music to wider audiences—all to forge deep and lasting connections with returning audiences and those who’ve not historically seen themselves at Lincoln Center.

Starting in 2024, aligning with Heyward’s first summer, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra will be adopting a new name that illustrates the orchestra’s integration within the broader summer festival, as well as with campus-wide initiatives and artistic explorations. 

The new artistic vision and name for Lincoln Center’s summer orchestra starting in 2024 will be developed in close partnership between Heyward and Thake. One component already being collaboratively explored is the integration of repertoire that previews artists featured by the resident organizations across Lincoln Center’s campus in the coming season, helping provide an entry point and encouragement for audiences to experience music on campus year-round.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jonathon Heyward as our next Music Director after a beautiful 21 years with Louis Langrée” said Shanta Thake, Ehrenkranz Chief Artistic Officer of LCPA. “Jonathon's inspiring artistry and passion for music making are unparalleled. I know he will continue the incredible legacy paved by Louis and these extraordinary musicians and usher in a new and exciting chapter of artistic growth. Jonathon has a keen sense for responsive and relevant programs that expand the boundaries of classical music and are welcoming to returning and new audiences alike. I look forward to closely collaborating with him to build on the orchestra’s legacy and further integrate the ensemble into Lincoln Center’s overall vision and community.” 

“Shanta's bold vision and capacity to connect with existing and new audiences have brought so much to Lincoln Center.  I can't wait to see what she and Maestro Heyward will do together.” said Henry Timms, President and CEO of LCPA. “Louis Langrée has had a remarkable tenure at Lincoln Center and all New Yorkers owe him a huge debt of thanks. With the new David Geffen Hall completed ahead of schedule and with an expanded commitment to outdoor programming, it is such an exciting time to begin a new chapter for classical music in the summer at Lincoln Center and beyond.”

Heyward currently serves as Music Director Designate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, beginning his tenure this fall, and is in his second year as a Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany. He made his Lincoln Center debut in August 2022, conducting the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra during the inaugural Summer for the City festival, and made his New York Philharmonic debut in April 2023. He leads the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra again on August 4-5, 2023 in the Wu Tsai Theater in the new David Geffen Hall with a program that includes Jessie Montgomery’s Records of a Vanishing City, Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, and the Barber Violin Concerto with violinist Simone Lamsma.

Click here for imagery.





About Jonathon Heyward 

Jonathon Heyward is forging a career as one of the most exciting conductors on the international scene. He is Music Director Designate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (beginning in 23/24), and Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie.

Jonathon’s recent and shortly forthcoming guest conducting highlights in the United Kingdom include debuts and re-invitations with the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, The Hallé in Manchester, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the BBC Proms. In continental Europe, recent and future debuts include collaborations with the Galicia Symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León, Basel Symphony, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Musikkollegium Winterthur, Brussels Philharmonic, Antwerp Symphony, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Hamburg Symphony and MDR-Sinfonieorchester Leipzig. 

In 2021, Jonathon made his Wolf Trap debut conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC, and in 2022, made his Lincoln Center debut conducting the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra as part of their Summer for the City festival. Shortly upcoming are Jonathon’s debuts at the Hollywood Bowl and at the Ravinia Festival. Further appearances in the United States include collaborations with the Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, and St Louis Symphony Orchestra. 

Jonathon made his Royal Opera House debut with Hannah Kendall’s Knife of Dawn, having also conducted Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, as well as the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s Wake in a production for the Birmingham Opera Company.

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Jonathon began cello lessons aged ten and started conducting while at school. He studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music, where he became assistant conductor of their opera department and the Boston Opera Collaborative. He 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. 

Jonathon’s commitment to education and community outreach work deepened during his three years with the Hallé and has flourished since he started as Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie. He is equally committed to including new music within his imaginative concert programmes.


About Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) is a cultural and civic cornerstone of New York City. The primary advocate for the entire Lincoln Center campus, our strategic priorities include: fostering collaboration and deepening impact across the Lincoln Center resident organizations; championing inclusion and increasing the accessibility and reach of Lincoln Center’s work; and nurturing innovation on stage and off to help ensure the arts are at the center of civic life for all. LCPA presents hundreds of programs each year, offered primarily for free and choose-what-you-pay, including many specially designed for young audiences, families, and those with disabilities.






Lincoln Center’s artistic excellence is made possible by the dedication and generosity of our board members 

Endowment support is provided by the Blavatnik Family Foundation Fund for Dance, The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation, Oak Foundation, PepsiCo Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund 

Operation of Lincoln Center’s public plazas is supported in part with public funds provided by the City of New York 

Programs are made possible, in part, with public funds provided by National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, and Empire State Development with the support of the Office of the Governor, Mayor of the City of New York, the New York State Legislature and the New York City Council. 

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