Thursday, February 02, 2017

Women conductors: a "provocation"

The Association of British Orchestras has been shaking things up this year and nowhere more so than in the matter of female conductors. James Murphy, managing director of the Southbank Sinfonia, gave a presentation on the issue. 

James tells me: "I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with a number of fantastic conductors, among them some brilliant women. It’s baffled me (and them) that some of them have not had the same breaks as men, and why our industry seems to be strangely reticent to try and achieve a little more balance in terms of the opportunities each get. I was roused by Alice Farnham’s course established in 2013 and, since then, our players have been part of the workshops she runs. But too often I’ve heard people in the sector imply that her doing that excuses them of doing anything themselves, and I decided to ask the Association of British Orchestras if we could focus on this at a future conference. I got my chance last week where, sandwiched between Chi-chi Nwanoku and Hannah Kendall speaking powerfully about other diversity and inclusion issues, I was granted ten minutes at this year’s conference to share my thoughts on the issue. I chose to do this as a volley of images projected from Powerpoint with some commentary from me as they rolled by. It seemed to go very well, and so I’ve now made a digital version of it so more people can see it online."

Here it is, above. Please have a listen, and a look at those statistics. James nails the chief issues head-on. And you know what? It's good to hear them from a bloke. 

The conference was apparently referring quite copiously to my little list, as James does here - a reference resource with names, brief summaries and web links about women conductors that I published in September 2013 - but it is much need of updating after three and a half years, so do get in touch if there's someone you'd like to add. 

And meanwhile, over in the US, there's this...