Friday, September 28, 2018

And here it is...


We were 4 judges, from different corners of the music world: Jasmine Dotiwala, Catherine Mark, Kate Nash and me. We had 40 places across the board, to encompass all genres. Under the circumstances, it felt good to get so many representatives from the classical world in, often at a high placement. We can't please everyone, of course, and some people are now busy being indignant - though this is possibly because they think we should have been doing something we hadn't set out to do in the first place.

This list wasn't about fresh-faced charm, talented young performers and composers, or even the latest entrepreneurship. This was a POWER LIST. It's something BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour does every year, exploring a different industry each time. The fact that this year they elected to turn the spotlight on the music world is telling: these are indeed crucial, seismic times for women in music.

So the criteria were power and influence: celebrating the women who in the past year have been driving necessary change in the music business - whether that means Beyoncé (no.1) as feminist and activist as well as top-selling artist, Vanessa Reed of the PRS (no.3) persuading 120+ festivals worldwide to sign up to 50-50 gender parity in performing line-ups and new commissions, from 2022, Chi-chi Nwanoku (no.9) single-handedly creating and propelling to fame the UK's first majority-BAME orchestra, Chineke! with its transformative effects, or, further down the list, the tireless efforts of Deborah Annetts campaigning for the rights of musicians via the ISM, or the way Edwina Wolstonecraft has programmed International Women's Day celebrations on Radio 3 - a station on which one used to go for weeks or months without hearing a note written by a woman - raising many consciousnesses by so doing.

Gillian Moore, director of music at the Southbank Centre (no.6), leads from the front, championing women in music in every way and blazing a trail in new music programming; Kathryn McDowell at the LSO is a long-term thinker and has effected Simon Rattle's appointment, which in turn may - if all goes according to plan - help to spur the creation of a new hall with top-notch education facilities. Anna Meredith is an astonishing, genre-bending composer, with an approach that sets an example to a whole new generation. Violinist Nicky Benedetti is a tremendous campaigner for music education at a time when it's never been more necessary - she could, after all, have concentrated solely on her own stellar career, but she doesn't. Marin Alsop is a household name, more so than any other conductor who is female: you need to see it to be it, and there she is on the podium, for all to see. Alice Farnham has created a course to encourage more and more women to take up conducting, something that will soon bear transformative fruit.

So basically I think we got it right, even if we'd all have liked the list to be three times as long. A lot of wonderful names ended up on the cutting-room floor, because there wasn't the space. I won't tell you who they all were, but I will just say that the one I was most sorry to lose is arguably the world's greatest living pianist and has been a role-model for younger musicians for at least 40 years. And, um, we left out Madonna.

You can please some of the people, some of the time. Over and out.