Showing posts with label Classical Music Magazine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Classical Music Magazine. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Women in music: positive action works

I've got a piece in the new edition of Classical Music Magazine, responding to one last month by Alexandra Coghlan.

Here's Alexandra's piece, in which she asserts that women in music are being spotlighted for all the wrong reasons.

Here's mine, pointing out the inconvenient truth that sometimes affirmative action works...

In the late 1980s, my generation emerged from college believing we could have it all. We imagined the battle for ‘Women’s Lib’ had been won and we would be its beneficiaries. We thought that if we tried to put in place conditions for discrimination and prejudice to disappear, they would, by some kind of natural, progressive evolution. Ever since, we’ve been finding out how wrong we were.
That applies throughout society, of course, and classical music is no exception. With Suffragette receiving top billing in the cinemas as I write, it’s clear that there is a preoccupation with these issues in the world around us right now – and with good reason...
Read the whole thing here. (I'm happy to say that even if Alexandra and I may disagree, we're good friends and colleagues and we applaud each other's right to speak up.)
Meanwhile, if you were in any doubt that positive action can effect change, just take a look at the Lucerne Festival. Yes, mighty Lucerne; Lucerne the wealthy and beautiful; historical Lucerne, founded to counter Bayreuth and Salzburg beyond the Third Reich's reach; Lucerne where Wagner wrote Tristan, has announced that in 2016 its theme is "Prima Donna": a focus on women artists. And it is going to feature ELEVEN (11) conductors who are female, at the helm of top orchestras from around the world. 
Emmanuelle Haim, who will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in Lucerne.
Photo: Simon Fowler, (c) Warner Classics

Marin Alsop will make her Lucerne debut with the São Paolo Symphony Orchestra. Barbara Hannigan is to conduct the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Susanna Mälkki will conduct the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra in the world premiere of a new work by Olga Neuwirth, who is composer in residence. A "day of adventure" [sic] brings in the conductors Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla, Anu Tali, Maria Schneider, and Konstantia Gourzi. And Emmanuelle Haim, the French baroque suprema, is to take the podium for the Vienna Philharmonic, which as we all know isn't exactly renowned for the number of women it admits to its ranks. (Well, renowned for exactly that. Because there are so few.) 
And in case you were in any doubt, there are plenty of men around as well. Riccardo Chailly, recently appointed music director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, will conduct opening night, which is Mahler's Symphony No.8.
The risk of the "prima donna" focus, of course, can be summarised as "been there, done that, bought the t shirt". It's a super celebration, but what one wants is consistency: equality of opportunity that becomes normal and ultimately unremarkable because it is so accepted. The fact that Lucerne is doing this means that all the activism, the articles, the general "noise" about women in music is having an impact in the places it matters. The long-term effect, though, needs to be different. Lucerne is offering a chance for the movers and shakers of the music world to sample the excellence of great artists who happen to be female. We'd like them then to win enduring opportunities as a result. Things can't just go back to business as usual. 
Bravo, Lucerne, for biting the bullet and sounding the trumpet. And I look forward very much to seeing how Emmanuelle gets along with the Viennas. 

Monday, December 31, 2012

And JDCMB's top ten posts of 2012 are...

Here are the top ten stories on JDCMB this year. Good to see that among the matters that interested you most were some of the world's top conductors, several exciting young artists and quite a few of the quirky JDCMB pieces that you won't find anywhere else - not least, the April Fool's Day spectacular. Below, listed in reverse order.

Thank you, everyone, for joining me through the roller-coaster highs and lows of 2012 and here's hoping that in 2013 the comets shine bright!

10.  Socks for the Lilac Fairy?                                                  
 Why do balletomanes knit socks for their favourite dancers, but Lang Lang doesn't get gloves from the pianophiles?

Life-enhancing ways to behave at a concert.


Introducing Angelo Villani.

In which I sit in on the great maestro's conducting masterclasses.

Italian romantic in cravat triumphs at the UK's premier piano competition.

You're a pragmatic lot, dear readers, and you know when you're on to a good thing.

Or can there? A look at this year's finalists.

1 April, and it looked like we might all have to play to Gergiev. Delightfully, a few of you fell for this, lock, stock and subsequent red ears.

And in first place...

The maestro gets it all off his chest.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


CLASSICAL MUSIC, the magazine of the music business, is offering JDCMB readers free access to its online digital edition until 31 August 2012.

The magazine, produced by Rhinegold Publishing, reports fortnightly on the latest news, views and events from around the musical world and is a must-read for everyone in the industry and beyond - packed with insights, interviews, notices, job ads, etc.

To take advantage of this offer, simply go to and sign up at "Register below to access the digital editions". Use the access code CMJD12 and add your email address and a password of your choice. The code works until 31 August, so if you sign up now you get six months of free reading - 14 issues of the magazine.

In the earlier February edition you can find, among other things, a biggish piece by JD about Roxanna Panufnik's new suite of pieces for violin and orchestra, Four World Seasons, which Tasmin Little and the London Mozart Players are performing complete for the first time tomorrow in Basingstoke and on Saturday at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon.