Women conductors and the road to podium equality

Posted on: December 12, 2019

“In the U.S., women helm roughly four percent of the two dozen big-budget orchestras,” writes Katherine LaGrave in Monday’s (12/9) Billboard. “Of the world’s 50 busiest conductors in 2018, just three were women: Marin Alsop, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) and JoAnn Falletta (music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra). There’s also a disparity in what orchestras are playing: Of the 2,891 contemporary orchestral works performed in 2018, women wrote 12.8 percent of them…. For the 2019-2020 season, the conversation around the gender imbalance is louder, thanks to the centennial anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. The New York Philharmonic, for its Project 19, commissioned 19 women to write 19 new pieces. The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s upcoming season counts half of its 22 commissions from women. Alsop’s Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, too, is marking the moment with premieres from contemporary composers like Lera Auerbach and pieces from lesser-known pioneers like Florence Price. Though the gender mix of conductors has remained relatively unchanged from 2006 to 2016, other milestones signal a slow turn toward progress…. Research from the League of American Orchestras shows increasing racial and ethnic diversity in conducting.”

Posted December 12, 2019

In photo, left to right: conductors Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; and JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.