Duchen’s List: Women Conductors Brought to the Fore

An article in the Guardian prompted a firestorm of controversy in the classical music world. “Male conductors are better for orchestras, says Vasily Petrenko” read the headline.

The principal conductor of the National Youth Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic has provoked outrage by claiming that orchestras “react better when they have a man in front of them” and that “a cute girl on a podium means that musicians think about other things”.

(It’s since been noted that Petrenko’s comments were taken out of context from the original Norwegian newspaper article).

And while criticism was quick to follow — especially on social media sites — music journalist and author Jessica Duchen was prompted to do something constructive. She began tweeting the names of women conductors to show that such a thing wasn’t unheard of. And soon others were joining in on the conversation.

She’s compiled a list of over fifty names of professional women conductors from around the world. Duchen’s posted that list on her blog, JDCMB, and is still updating it. The list, titled Fanfare for the uncommon woman conductor, is very much a work in progress.

As Duchen notes on the page: “The women conductors I know are heartily sick of being asked why there aren’t more women conductors – mostly because there are [as this list proves]. They would like, please, recognition first and foremost and, ideally, only for their work as musicians, regardless of gender..”

A very positive response to a very negative opinion.

Note to local readers: yes, Maestro Kate Tamarkin is on the list!


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