On International Women’s Day, examining gender balance within U.K. orchestras

Posted on: March 8, 2016

“BBC Radio 3 asked 40 of the UK’s biggest orchestras to reveal the percentages of men and women in their ranks,” states a report on Monday’s (3/7) BBC website (U.K.). “From those who replied, they discovered an encouraging picture. In some chamber orchestras, women outnumber men; while women make up between 40 and 50 per cent of the players in most symphony orchestras. But beneath the surface lay more troubling statistics. While string sections are largely gender-balanced, the same could not be said for the woodwind, brass and percussion players. Women were also under-represented in principal roles. Furthermore, orchestras are struggling to reflect the fact that students at the UK’s conservatoires are principally female. Radio 3’s Tom Service looked into the issues behind the statistics.” Included in Service’s thirteen-minute radio piece are interviews with staff and musicians from U.K.-based ensembles including Opera North and Philharmonia Orchestra, including from the latter principal bassoonist Amy Harman.” The article and interview are timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, March 8.

Pictured: Amy Harman, first female principal woodwind or brass player in Great Britain’s Philharmonia Orchestra when she was appointed in 2011. Photo by Kaupo Kikkas

Posted March 8, 2016