Opinion: Conducting is neither “male” nor “female”

Posted on: March 17, 2015

In Thursday’s (3/12) Guardian (London), soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan writes, “When I was about 10, I decided I was going to be a musician. I wasn’t sure what kind, but conducting was not something I even considered…. With conducting I was expanding into a field dominated by men. I didn’t think of it like that, though—it was simply something I needed to explore as a musician. But as time went on, I noticed that ‘female’ was now attached to the ‘conductor’ label, where it had never been attached to the singer label…. Conducting is one of those few final frontiers in which there is a dearth of women. For me, though, the issue is much more complicated than a call of ‘We need more women conductors!’ It is musicianship, psychology and technical skill all bound together in a rare type of leadership that is elusive. It is neither male nor female.… Before a woman gets on the podium, she needs to get into a conducting class at university, and before that even, she needs to see the career as a viable option … A friend’s young daughter saw me conducting on TV the other day, and said: ‘Mommy, I didn’t know women were allowed to be conductors.’ ”

Posted March 17, 2015