Addressing conductor gender gap with new women-only class

Posted on: March 24, 2014

“The appearance of Marin Alsop last September as the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms, and some boorish comments from critics about whether women were equipped to conduct an orchestra” have led to a women-only course at Morley College in south London, spearheaded by conductor Alice Farnham, writes Peter Walker in Monday’s (3/24) Guardian (London). “ ‘If I’d known then how little would change in 20 years I would have been surprised, and it does make me rather sad,’ Farnham said. … Farnham … has gathered eight young women aged 16 to 18 from music schools around Britain for a three-weekend introduction.… Next week in the final part of the course [the students] will direct more than 20 youth musicians under … Sian Edwards, perhaps Britain’s best-known female conductor. The guidance is as much emotional and confidence-based as technical.… Farnham said one of the obstacles to women’s advancement as conductors was the way prowess in the profession was judged…. ‘There are more women in orchestras now, and one of the reasons is the simple fact that if you play your instrument really, really well you’re going to do all right. But conducting is so subjective.’ ”

Posted March 24, 2014