Allentown Symphony’s Diane Wittry on progress for women conductors

Posted on: February 21, 2020

In 1992, Jeannette Sorrell was “told not to waste her time auditioning for the assistant conductor post of a major symphony orchestra because she was a woman,” writes Steve Siegel in Wednesday’s (2/19) Morning Call (Allentown, PA). “That was … eight years before JoAnn Falletta would become music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic … and 15 years before Marin Alsop would become music director … of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.” Progress for women conductors is “changing, but … ‘it’s not linear—it seems to be a sort of stair-step kind of thing,’ says Allentown Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor Diane Wittry. [In] the last two years … ‘Women have been appointed as assistant conductors, music directors, resident conductors, and especially receiving commissions for compositions,’ says Wittry…. ‘The real exciting thing, though, is that women as conductors are also mirroring the change that’s also happening in … different job markets … I was so pleasantly surprised when I was watching the Super Bowl to see the commercial which showed Katie Sowers, the assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers…. A woman as a football coach today would be as unheard of as a woman as conductor back in the 1930s or even the 1960s.”