Mei-Ann Chen: gender imbalance in conductor ranks is slowly changing

Posted on: November 18, 2013

Thursday’s (11/14) Huffington Post carries an interview with Mei-Ann Chen, music director of the Memphis Symphony and Chicago Sinfonietta. Chen: “There are more and more female conductors coming up. You see a big increase in female conductors at music schools…. At orchestras across America, there’s no longer a gender issue [though] the brass is still dominated by male musicians. The conducting world is just moving a little slower than the soloist world.” She describes Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony, as her mentor. “Many people say she broke the glass ceiling for women conductors in this country.… She founded a conducting fellowship, Taki Concordia, just to help women conductors gain exposure.” Chen credits a 2006 performance with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, part of the League of American Orchestras’ Conducting Fellows Program, with a sharp upward turn in her conducting career. “The [Atlanta Symphony] musicians did something unheard of. I didn’t have a manager but they got on their phones and called people they knew, saying, … ‘If  you’re looking for a guest conductor … you should certainly consider Mei-Ann Chen.’ … By the end of my year as an assistant conductor [at the Atlanta Symphony] I had received invitations from 16 orchestras.”

Posted November 18, 2013