As they rise, assistant conductors will make the country’s music directorships more diverse

Posted on: June 4, 2021

“The dream of ascending from the assistantship of a major American orchestra to its leadership—like rising up a corporate ladder—[is] cemented in the popular imagination,” writes Zachary Woolfe in Friday’s (6/4/21) New York Times. “They go by a variety of titles: assistant, associate, fellow, resident. Almost every major orchestra has at least one … But it is rare to see them ascend to the top jobs…. When Marin Alsop steps down from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra this summer, it will leave the top tier of American ensembles … without a single female music director. There has never been a Black music director in this group, and just a handful of leaders have been Latino or of Asian descent…. But it is a very different story when you look at the country’s assistants, a far more diverse group in which women and musicians of color have found success in recent years…. Orchestra officials insist that things are changing, accelerated by the jolt of the pandemic and the calls over the past year for greater racial and ethnic diversity…. This is the work that can help turn the encouragingly diverse landscape of assistant conductors into the future of the country’s top music directorships.”