‘The Conductor’

Brand Identity, Film & Motion Graphics

Identity and motion graphics for a documentary on Marin Alsop, the first woman to lead major classical orchestras around the world.

Marin Alsop’s life reads like a list of firsts: she was the first woman to lead a major American orchestra (the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), the first and only conductor to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, and the first woman to lead a Viennese orchestra. She is also the subject of Director Bernadette Wegenstein’s 2021 documentary, “The Conductor.” Pentagram designed the identity and graphics package—including interstitials, lower thirds, and opening and credit sequences—for this biographical film about Alsop’s incredible accomplishments and legacy. 

The Conductor takes the audience on an illuminating journey through Alsop’s initial exposure to music, her struggles against the classical music industry’s deep-rooted sexist traditions, and her vision and creative process as an artist. 

“The one thing I never want to do to a young person is to tell them you're "not" something, you "can't" do something. Especially someone who clearly has a passion for it. And for me, that's the worst four-letter word ever invented - "can't.",” says Alsop, in the film.

To complement the story of a woman with such single-minded ambition and dedication to creating beauty through music, Pentagram designed a graphic system grounded in typography, with swooping ligatures inspired by the consequential yet graceful moves of a baton. The logotype is a modified drawing based on the typeface Ivy Mode by Ivy Foundry. Its classical and dignified forms are softened by fluid, cursive-inspired connectors. Ivy Mode is also used throughout the graphics package, complemented by geometric sans Futura. And much like Alsop herself, the graphics are immersed in music—the interstitials and the typography have playful flourishes that tie the elements of the storyline together much like notes in a composition. 

The team also worked closely with the documentary’s creators on a number of graphics used in the film such as recreated newspaper clippings and other archival imagery. Restraint and beauty carry the day here, in both the filmmaking and the way the design is deployed throughout the story. And along with the rest of the graphics suite, every piece of design helps to further the storytelling, but also humanizes one of American music’s most fascinating figures. 

For screening information and to stream "The Conductor," visit

New York
Emily Oberman
Project team
Mira Khandpur
Greg Morrison
Jase Hueser
Zoe Chrissos
Dianne Kim
Ancillary Post, post production
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