Equality news: Orchestra creates series for women conductors

Equality news: Orchestra creates series for women conductors


norman lebrecht

December 16, 2013

While others pay lip-service, the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra (music director: Muhai Tang) has started a series that introduces women conductors to its musicians and audience. The first invitees are Anu Tali, Kristiina Poska, Jane Glover, Gisele Ben-Dor, and Karen Kamensek, who features in a video below.

Not too sure about the series title – On High Heels (maybe it works better in Serbian) – but it’s a positive gesture. More than a gesture: it’s a sign of changing times.

karen kamensek2


  • peggy says:

    Anu Tali is the new conductor of the Sarasota Orchestra and she is AMAZING!!

    • Ed Alley says:

      thanks for mentioning that. We in Sarasota are so lucky to have Anu as Music Director of the Sarasota Orchestra. Edward Alley

  • PJ says:

    I find it actually quite sexist to create a special series for women conductors, marketing them with a gimmick title, instead of simply programming them in one of the main series as would be done with any male conductor. It’s just another way of not taking women conductors quite seriously. Times aren’t changing so fast yet.

    • I’m afraid you misunderstood the programme of the Belgrade philharmonic. There is no “main series” per se in it, but rather several different series inspired by different motives that stand on equal footing. “On high heels” is just one of them. There is the “Classical cycle” which features, well, classics and which opened with a concert performance of “The Flying Dutchman” which very much pleased this Wagnerian. Then there is a cycle called “New Years” that has concerts on the days of Rosh Hashanna, islamic New Year, the New Years according to both Gregorian and Julian calendars as well as the Chinese New Year and which features music and performers that come out of the respective traditions. Another is “Without words”, music works dedicated and inspired by classic works of literature ( the emphasis of this season is on Shakespeare).

      Here’s the season’s entire programme, BTW: http://www.bgf.rs/en/season-2013-2014/

  • Abe says:

    In England there would be lawsuits by male conductors arguing sex discrimination – disappointing to hear any support for reverse discrimination.

  • Peter says:

    The problem with positive discrimination is that it is …. discrimination. While it seeks to right a wrong, it actually just creates two wrongs. Better never to prefer a male conductor just because he is a man, and never to prefer a female conductor just because she is a woman.

    • Talia Ilan says:

      Unfortunately, without exposing female conductors to orchestras and audiences, the situation will not change, and decision makers will keep inviting only male conductors. And believe me, there are more than enough excellent (female) conductors to choose from.

  • “Not too sure about the series title – On High Heels (maybe it works better in Serbian)” – it doesn’t actually, the translation is fairly literal and straightforward.