Opinion: women violinists are achieving parity in classical music

Posted on: June 26, 2014

In a Sunday (6/22) post at Iowa Public Radio’s website, Barney Sherman writes that as recently as 1970, “Men dominated the classical violin profession…. Today some of the best-known quartets have a woman playing first fiddle … the Amar, Arcanto, Belcea, Casals, Cavani, Cecilia, Chiara, Corigliano, Cypress, Daedalus, Dante, Delray, Del Sol, Enso, Gesualdo, Lark, Kepler, Klenke, Pavel Haas, Pacifica, and Ying String Quartets.” Sherman notes that in 2014 the violin sections of orchestras in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, plus the Metropolitan Orchestra, “have a solid female majority at 58 percent—148 women, 107 men.… Because orchestral musicians usually have tenure of decades, … when the gender barriers fall it takes a while for women to even have openings to try out for.… The Royal Concertgebouw, the only European major orchestra with a majority-female violin section … accepted its first female string player back in 1897, while the Vienna Philharmonic [with five female violinists] hired its first only six years ago.… Another practice that increased the number of women in American orchestras was blind auditions. Our orchestras started using them in the 1970s.… Gender balance is good not only for artists—it’s good for the art.”

Posted June 26, 2014