It’s no surprise that the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Jennifer Barlament had a music-filled childhood, studying clarinet for years and playing violin with the Savannah Symphony Youth Orchestra, among other musical accomplishments. As a self-professed “math nerd,” she even pursued a double-major in physics along with music at Emory University, but a graduate course in orchestra management at Eastman School of Music set her on a new path. “A group of students started an orchestra there, and I got hooked,” Barlament says. “When I played the clarinet, I could take credit for one line of the music, but when I was managing the orchestra, I felt a sense of satisfaction about helping make the whole thing happen.”
After years building her career at other orchestras, Jennifer joined the ASO in 2016 and has helped the symphony thrive even in unexpected circumstances. Under her leadership, the ASO had a record seven years of balanced budgets—even with the challenges of operating during the pandemic. During the height of Covid-19, ASO’s Behind the Curtain series allowed subscribers and single-ticket holders to enjoy full concerts via streaming—just one way she helped the symphony pivot to virtual audiences. “As people have emerged from isolation and returned to attending live concerts, it’s been overwhelming to see how touched they are by experiencing music together,” she says.
Recently, her historic hiring of Nathalie Stutzmann as ASO’s music director caught the attention of leading news outlets, such as the New York Times and CBS Evening News, because Maestro Stutzmann is the only female music director of a major U.S. orchestra and the first female in ASO history. “It’s a huge privilege to work with Nathalie Stutzmann,” says Jennifer, who has been mentored by other women in her life and loves being a mentor herself. “Being the voice that encourages them to say ‘yes!’ is one of my favorite things to do.”