Photo by Kym Thomson

By Pauline France

Marin Alsop, the first woman conductor of a major American orchestra, chatted with AOL’s MAKERS to share her fascinating story on all the travails and successes she’s faced for being the first female conductor of a major American orchestra.

“The issue of gender doesn’t really resonate with me at all,” she said. “It seems like a rather trite point to receive attention for; it’s a fluke of birth. I always feel slightly conflicted when that’s what’s sighted. I feel very proud but I also find it somewhat pathetic that we can be in the 21st century and there can still be firsts for women.”

In 2005, Alsop was selected to be conductor of the Baltimore Symphony. She immediately received tremendous opposition from musicians and colleagues and thought it was the end of her career – but it was only the beginning of a brilliant journey.

Aside from her role with the Baltimore Symphony, Alsop is now also the Chief Conductor of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Emeritus of the Bournemouth Symphony, Conductor Laureate of the Colorado Symphony and Music Director of the Cabrillo Festival.

She was the first artist to win Gramophone’s “Artist of the Year” award and the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Conductor Award in one season, and she also won the Classical Brit Award for Best Female Artist in the same year.

Learn how she coped with opposition, negative publicity and humiliation, and how she became a massively successful and award-winning female trailblazer through the MAKER video interviews here.