The world’s busiest woman conductor?

April 23, 2016 by norman lebrecht


That’s what is being claimed for the Estonian Kristiina Poska, 37, first kapellmeister at the Komische Oper, Berlin.

At 37, she guest-conducts all over Europe and has appeared on Eurovision.

‘It is definitely not an advantage to be a female conductor in the cultural landscape of Germany,’ says Kristiina, ‘but it is important to know how to turn disadvantages into advantages.’

Full interview and profile here (in English).


kristiina poska

Comments (13)

  1. Theodore McGuiver says:

    Interesting interview. Good for her, though it’s funny she doesn’t mention conducting left-handed (unless all the photos have been reversed). That makes two southpaws in three houses in Berlin, surely a world record. Kapellmeister doesn’t really mean music director in the sense we understand it in an opera house, more a staff conductor. Erster Kapellmeister is a great job in a big house; you get to conduct enormous amounts of repertoire without the administrative nonsense that goes with being GMD.

    I loved this quote:

    …if you don’t have a musical bone in your body, you cannot work in this field.

    She clearly hasn’t been to Hamburg recently.

    1. May says:

      Who needs musical bones when you have musical hair?

      1. Theodore McGuiver says:

        Ha! Nice one.

      2. Bruce says:

        Musical cheekbones can be a big advantage for sure.

        1. Theodore McGuiver says:

          …and our friend in Hamburg certainly has those…

  2. MDS says:

    Cute, perhaps. But hardly anything the world needs.

    1. Will Duffay says:

      But that’s enough about you. What about the conductor?

    2. Cyril Blair says:

      I suppose it’s best to have your misogyny out in the open.

  3. Hornetsnest says:

    Can someone confirm if she is a left hander or whether the photo is reversed. It is notoriously difficult in Germany to get on through the system as a left hander, so kudos to her to have got so far… She must be good.
    I agree about Hamburg..

  4. Judith Higbee says:

    I am a left-handed conductor who was convinced in post grad work to switch. I was told that orchestras expected to see a beat in a certain place. I am primarily a choral director but have been “good” and stayed with my right hand. I was THRILLED to see she is a lefty! Please don’t tell me the photos are reversed.

    1. Sasha says:

      I can assure you that orchestras do expect to see the stick in your right hand and find it where they are used to when (if) they glance up from their music. I was assistant conductor in one orchestra when we had a (young) left handed guest conductor. All the musicians talked about after the rehearsal was how annoying it is to look up and not find the baton where it’s supposed to be. After hearing those comments I was glad that I myself made the “right” decision early on (I am naturally left handed as well).

  5. Brian Davison says:

    Regarding left-handed conductors: I have ONLY a left hand. My right hand is deformed thanks to the medicine Thalidomide that my mother was given to combat morning sickness. I’m a composer (having previously been a professional trumpet-player which I played left-handed, and, believe it or not, a professional viola-player) so I can ONLY hold a baton in my left hand if I conduct. So from what I gather, musicians will complain to me or about me about something over which I have no control- yet I’m a professional. Absurd. Or have I missed something here?

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