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The feminine future of classical music

Women continue to balance the disparity in classical music leadership

Elim Chan conducting at Lucerne
Elim Chan conducting at Lucerne

I remember stating that it was time for balance between the feminine and the masculine in classical music. It appears I was not alone in that conviction. Maybe observation is a better word than conviction.

No, no it isn’t. Observation is for the laboratory; the concert hall and opera house require conviction.

Video:

Gyeonggi Philharmonic

...led by Korea's first woman chief conductor Sung Shi-yeon to perform Mahler

...led by Korea's first woman chief conductor Sung Shi-yeon to perform Mahler

The ultra-prestigious Lucerne festival in Switzerland has used the title Prima Donna to describe the theme of this year’s showcase. The term prima donna has a its own cultural baggage, but the term means “first lady.”

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It doesn’t mean “ladies first” or the wife of the President of the United States. The Swiss are pulling off a little play on words here, and only the most obtuse identifier of micro-aggressions will take exception to it.

The festival features 11 female conductors, 25 female composers, and 40 female soloists. Now, one year of balance at one summer music festival does not erase a thousand years, but it’s a start.

The Guardian reported this week on two female conductors at the Proms. One of them was our friend from last season, Migra Gražinytė-Tyla.

This was the London debut of Gražinytė-Tyla who has become the music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. (Birmingham, England. Not Alabama.)

Gražinytė-Tyla is quickly becoming a star in England and rightfully so. Yet she is only one of several rising female conductors such as Barbara Hannigan, Elim Chan, Shi-Yeon Sung, and Alondra de la Parra.

The next step is for a woman to take over the position of music director at a major organization such as Boston, Chicago, Berlin, Vienna (fat chance), or the Royal Concertgebouw.

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Elim Chan conducting at Lucerne
Elim Chan conducting at Lucerne

I remember stating that it was time for balance between the feminine and the masculine in classical music. It appears I was not alone in that conviction. Maybe observation is a better word than conviction.

No, no it isn’t. Observation is for the laboratory; the concert hall and opera house require conviction.

Video:

Gyeonggi Philharmonic

...led by Korea's first woman chief conductor Sung Shi-yeon to perform Mahler

...led by Korea's first woman chief conductor Sung Shi-yeon to perform Mahler

The ultra-prestigious Lucerne festival in Switzerland has used the title Prima Donna to describe the theme of this year’s showcase. The term prima donna has a its own cultural baggage, but the term means “first lady.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

It doesn’t mean “ladies first” or the wife of the President of the United States. The Swiss are pulling off a little play on words here, and only the most obtuse identifier of micro-aggressions will take exception to it.

The festival features 11 female conductors, 25 female composers, and 40 female soloists. Now, one year of balance at one summer music festival does not erase a thousand years, but it’s a start.

The Guardian reported this week on two female conductors at the Proms. One of them was our friend from last season, Migra Gražinytė-Tyla.

This was the London debut of Gražinytė-Tyla who has become the music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. (Birmingham, England. Not Alabama.)

Gražinytė-Tyla is quickly becoming a star in England and rightfully so. Yet she is only one of several rising female conductors such as Barbara Hannigan, Elim Chan, Shi-Yeon Sung, and Alondra de la Parra.

The next step is for a woman to take over the position of music director at a major organization such as Boston, Chicago, Berlin, Vienna (fat chance), or the Royal Concertgebouw.

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