Support for women conductors

Posted on: May 4, 2010

Friday (4/30) on her Washington Post blog Classical Beat, Anne Midgette writes, “This week, the League of American Orchestras announced the award of four $10,000 grants to four female conductors. The Women Conductors Grant Program, put together with foundation moneys, is designed to give women a leg up in a field that, the theory goes, still remains a challenge to them. I’m of two minds about this. It’s true that women have had an uphill battle, and it took them a long time to start being able to have professional careers as conductors. JoAnn Falletta, Marin Alsop, Simone Young are pioneers and trail-blazers who—particularly the first two, who are slightly older—had to overcome a lot of resistance to establish themselves at all. … these and other women conductors remain a drop in the bucket relative to the men who continue to dominate the field. This, I think, is the idea underlying the current grants: we need to do something to help level the playing field and draw attention to the talents who are working. … I wonder if singling out women and giving them special grants has the effect one wants. I don’t want to see women being rewarded just for being women. This is nothing against the four conductors who received the current grant: Mihaela Cesa-Goje, Mei-Ann Chen, Alondra de la Parra, and Annunziata Tomaro. I’m just concerned that it fosters the idea that women somehow continue to need extra help and extra tolerance … though I can’t deny that the grant is a concrete step to tackle a problem that seems obdurately difficult to fix.”

Posted May 4, 2010