[Dixielandjazz] For The Women On The List - NOT OKOM - Maybe YKOM

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Jan 14 08:29:40 PST 2005

Look out guys, the women are gaining. At least as classical conductors.
Perhaps we need more women OKOM band leaders? What is interesting is that
the Orchestra's they lead are moving from deficits to profits. Note the last
4 paragraphs. What If they could bring that trend over to OKOM.....? :-) VBG

Long article, delete now if you are one eyed. :-) VBG.

Steve Barbone

January 14, 2005 - NY TIMES By BLAIR TINDALL

Call Me Madame Maestro
The road to conducting one of the world's great orchestras could have been
arduous for a 4-year-old girl beginning to learn music on a homemade piano
in Dandong, China, in 1977. But because of the pioneering examples set by
female conductors in China at that time, Xian Zhang, now 31 and the
assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, could look to a solid
lineage of women for inspiration.

"My teacher at the Central Conservatory was female," she said of Wu Ling
Fen, who also had studied with a woman. "That makes me the third generation
of female conductors in China."

Ms. Zhang, who came to the United States in 1998, was a winner of the 2002
Maazel-Vilar Conductors' Competition. A confident, articulate young woman,
she spoke passionately about training with her mentor Lorin Maazel and
working with the Philharmonic - an orchestra she described as exceptionally
professional and supportive.

After warming up her crisp yet fluid baton technique with a children's
concert in December, she made her subscription concert debut with the
Philharmonic on Wednesday. In the first of four concerts shared with Mr.
Maazel, she led Benjamin Britten's "Four Sea Interludes" from "Peter Grimes"
and the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's "Scherzoid," a Philharmonic

Ms. Zhang is one of three women conducting established orchestras in the New
York area this weekend. Anu Tali, 32, from Estonia, made her American debut
this week with the New Jersey Symphony as part of its Northern Lights
Festival, in a program to be presented again tonight, tomorrow and Sunday.
And Andrea Quinn, a 40-year-old Englishwoman who is the music director of
the New York City Ballet, leads performances at the New York State Theater.
(Ms. Quinn recently announced that she will leave the dance company when her
contract expires in June 2006, to return to Britain.)

These artists represent a new wave of female conductors in their late 20's
through early 40's. Others are Joana Carneiro, Sara Jobin, Sarah Ioannides,
Sarah Hicks, Keri-Lynn Wilson and Anne Manson. They confront significantly
less prejudice than did their counterparts who are only a few years older:
Gisèle Ben-Dor, Catherine Comet, Rachel Worby, JoAnn Falletta, Marin Alsop
and others, performers who have made women a familiar presence on the
orchestra podium. 

That profile continues to evolve. Ms. Tali created her own Nordic Symphony
Orchestra in Estonia in 1997, working with her identical twin sister, Kadri,
who is the orchestra's manager. They have produced two CD's; one of them,
"Swan Flight," on Finlandia, won Anu Tali the 2003 Echo Classic Award for
young artist of the year.

Ms. Tali said in an e-mail message that she has encountered little
resistance as a female conductor, and that the unique way in which each
conductor communicates the music transcends gender differences.

"After all, isn't life in the end all about action, passion, illusion?" Ms.
Tali wrote.

Ms. Quinn, like Ms. Zhang, had known of other female conductors like Sian
Edwards, Jane Glover and Simone Young as she studied conducting at London's
Royal Academy of Music. She said that gender as a barrier had not occurred
to her as a young musician.

Gaining Acceptance 

With the notable exception of music director posts at the largest
symphonies, women have vanquished nearly every major orchestral barrier
worldwide. Judith Somogi, an American who died in 1988, was principal
conductor of the Frankfurt Opera from 1982 to 1987. In 1994, the British
conductor Ms. Manson, now 43, led the then all-male Vienna Philharmonic in
Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" at the Salzburg Festival. And Simone Young, 43,
an Australian, conducted the Metropolitan Opera when she was five months
pregnant and the Vienna State Opera one month before giving birth, in 1997.

Though women have made gains in leading major orchestras abroad, several of
the conductors interviewed said that American audiences are generally more

"Women are rarer in Europe," Ms. Zhang said. "Usually, it's fine. But there
have been times I felt like an animal in a zoo."

In 1986, no major management represented a female conductor, and female
music directors were found only at small regional orchestras. Today,
International Creative Management, International Management Group and
Columbia Artists Management each list one or more female conductors, and
women have held music directorships with at least nine orchestras posting
annual budgets of more than $3 million.

Stalled Progress

Yet despite the progress female conductors have made over the last two
decades, their momentum appears to have stalled, and the number of women
entering the field has reached a plateau.

Although women have appeared as guest conductors at every major orchestra in
the country, only two hold positions among the 51 orchestras of the
International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians: Ms. Falletta, 50,
who directs the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Virginia Symphony, in Norfolk,
and Ms. Quinn. Ms. Alsop, 48, directs the Bournemouth Symphony in England,
which presents nearly twice as many concerts as the Colorado Symphony, where
she served as director.

Now that women are no longer a curiosity on the podium, many female
conductors experience far less discrimination, said Ms. Jobin, 34, who
became the first woman to conduct a performance on the main stage of the San
Francisco Opera with a production of "Tosca" in November. She will conduct
performances of "Norma" with the company next season.

"Many obstacles have been removed in the last 10 years," said Ms. Falletta,
who recalled that reviews in the 1980's nearly always mentioned her
appearance or marital status. "Your musicianship is now the focal point."

What's more, female conductors seem to have achieved pay parity with their
male counterparts. Although the group is too small to signal a trend, it is
worth noting that the three women who led midsize symphonies in 2002 - Ms.
Alsop (Colorado), Ms. Falletta (Buffalo Philharmonic) and Ms. Manson (Kansas
City) - averaged $198,000 in salary, or 13 percent more than the $175,000
average salary of all music directors of the 11 orchestras with budgets of
$8 million to $11 million.

Top Orchestras, Top Men

But no female conductors have been appointed to lead any of the 20 American
symphony orchestras with budgets of $11 million to $70 million. Ms. Alsop,
who has often been mentioned among the ranks of rising American conductors
(along with David Robertson, 46; James Conlon, 54; and Kent Nagano, 53),
remains one of the few women at the top.

"I assumed there would be an influx of women on the podium, but there are
not many more at my level than there were 20 years ago," said Ms. Alsop, who
was named artist of the year by Gramophone magazine in 2003. "Maybe boards
don't want to hire women because they don't meet the archetypal image of the

But isn't it possible that female conductors are poised for greater success?

Because the number of American orchestras posting deficits has soared from
37 percent to 73 percent in the last five years, most boards remain
conservative when selecting a music director, who, as the organization's
figurehead, is crucial not only to making music but also to fund-raising and
audience-building. Experience and age figure in these decisions.

Though the Los Angeles Philharmonic appointed Esa-Pekka Salonen at 31 in
1989, four of the Big Five American orchestras (Boston, Chicago, Cleveland,
New York and Philadelphia) have had music directors older than 60 in recent
years. Only Cleveland broke with tradition, in 2002, hiring Franz
Welser-Möst, now 44.

As the first handful of visible female conductors, who began their careers
20 or more years ago, accumulate greater experience as they approach 50,
they will undoubtedly meet with serious consideration as well.

Breaking In

The history of female conductors in America began early in the 20th century.
Some 30 all-female orchestras, with women conducting, operated in the United
States from 1908 through the mid-1930's, staffed by musicians who were
largely barred from membership in traditionally male orchestras.

A lone woman who graduated from the Juilliard School with a choral
conducting degree in 1920 was not able to ignite much of a trend. Juilliard
has since trained 34 more women in choral or orchestral conducting.

Although women in the first half of the 20th century were not offered music
directorships at major symphonies, many - like Nadia Boulanger, who led the
Boston Symphony in 1938 - were invited to guest-conduct.

The Dutch-born Antonia Brico became the first woman to conduct the Berlin
Philharmonic, in 1930, and the first woman to conduct the New York
Philharmonic, in 1938. Although she worked at the Metropolitan Opera twice,
she was fired when a baritone refused to work with her.

Most women's symphonies shut down in the 1940's, when their members filled
orchestra positions vacated by men fighting in World War II, leaving female
conductors once again without an outlet for their talents.

The Sarah Caldwell Era

The postwar years offered little more than choral conducting opportunities
for women, but in 1946, Sarah Caldwell, at 18, became the first female
conducting student at Tanglewood. She so impressed the conductor Serge
Koussevitzky that he appointed her to the faculty a year later.

Ms. Caldwell founded the Boston Opera Group in 1957, which she led until its
demise in 1991. Eve Queler, who had worked as an assistant conductor at the
New York City Opera, founded the Opera Orchestra of New York in 1967, and
she continues to present three concert opera performances a year at Carnegie

As feminism dawned and Title IX of the Education Amendments outlawed
discrimination against women in federally financed schools in 1972, a door
opened for the first significant wave of female conductors.

Comfortable as LeadersVictoria Bond became the first woman to earn a
conducting doctorate from the Juilliard School in 1977, then navigated
unfamiliar terrain as the first female recipient of an Exxon-National
Endowment for the Arts conducting fellowship.

"To the older men in the Pittsburgh Symphony, a woman meant a mother, wife
or daughter, none of whom were people they turned to for advice," Ms. Bond
said, describing the orchestra's reaction in 1978 to the only female
conductor many of them had seen.

Since then, audiences, boards, managements and musicians have grown
accustomed to women in leadership positions. Women serve as concertmasters
in at least five American symphonies and hold the top executive positions at
two of America's three largest-budget orchestras, the Chicago Symphony and
the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

"When enough women appear in positions of power, a 'sexual static' takes
over, and men no longer feel a vague sense of discomfort," said Judy B.
Rosener, a business professor at the University of California, Irvine, and
the author of "America's Competitive Secret: Women Managers."

Yet even as women become widely accepted in orchestral leadership positions,
the number studying conducting has leveled off after an initial surge of
interest in the 1980's. Although the proportion of conducting doctorates
awarded to women jumped from 11 percent in 1983 to 20 percent in 1992, it
had fallen to 18 percent by 2002, according to the Higher Education Arts
Data Services.

Continued Success 

Still, the dearth of newcomers has not slowed the professional evolution of
the most experienced female music directors. Ms. Falletta, for example, led
three formerly troubled orchestras, in Long Beach, Calif., Norfolk and
Buffalo, to relative financial health, improving their national visibility
through touring, broadcasting and recording. Her Buffalo appointment places
her alongside William Steinberg and Michael Tilson Thomas in that
orchestra's roster of distinguished former music directors.

And in the 10 years Ms. Alsop led the Colorado Symphony, where she is now
conductor laureate, the orchestra's budget grew from $4 million to $10
million. Since Ms. Alsop took the helm of a deficit-ridden Cabrillo Music
Festival in Santa Cruz, Calif., in 1992, its budget has increased 65
percent, grant income is up 84 percent and ticket sales have grown 106

These are just two conductors who have proved themselves not only as
world-class musicians but also as experts in development, audience-building
and long-range strategy, attributes that may soon put them on wish lists in
music director searches for major American orchestras.

"As a female, living in America is refreshing because of its optimism," said
Ms. Quinn, formerly music director of the Royal Ballet in London. "Here,
it's assumed you can do anything unless you prove you can't."

Blair Tindall, a professional oboist, is writing "Mozart in the Jungle: Sex,
Drugs and Classical Music" for Grove/Atlantic Press.

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