Marin Alsop to Step Down as Leader of Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival

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Music Director Marin Alsop and Cabrillo Festival Orchestra players at the call board.  (Photo by Jess Frye)

Marin Alsop will step down as music director and conductor of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, a world-renowned annual event that focuses on the work of living composers. But audiences will have one more season to catch Alsop on the podium. She’ll complete her 25th anniversary year as music director next August before leaving the post.

Alsop is one of the world’s most in-demand conductors, and an activist who pushes for more women on concert podiums. She leads the Baltimore and Sao Paolo Symphony orchestras, and just took on the post of director of the graduate conducting program at Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute in Baltimore.

"It is with great sadness and after much contemplation that I make this decision,” Alsop, 58, said in a statement released by the Cabrillo festival board. "But I believe this is the right time for me and for the festival.”

At Cabrillo, Alsop has championed the work of established composers like John Adams, Philip Glass, and James McMillan, as well as a younger generation including  Anna Clyne, Missy Mazzoli and the Bay Area’s Mason Bates.

In an interview with KQED Arts earlier this summer, Alsop talked about the importance of the annual event devoted to new music. “It’s a festival about creativity, about existing in the moment, about experimentation," Alsop said. "It’s a festival without boundaries, and without rules. And I think we’ve tried to preserve that essence through all of these years.”