Groundbreaking Conductor Marin Alsop : Fresh Air In 2007, Alsop became the first woman to lead a major American orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony. But on the way to great success, she faced plenty of rejection. "Girls can't do that," Alsop recalls her violin teacher telling her at age nine, of becoming a conductor. "I'd never heard a phrase like that," Alsop says. "You know, it never occurred to me that there was something that girls couldn't do." Alsop was mentored by Leonard Bernstein, and has conducted major orchestras around the world.