The orchestra of the future is 52% female

The orchestra of the future is 52% female


norman lebrecht

January 11, 2015

Fiona Maddocks has spotted significant trends today in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, with 163 players.


fiona maddocks

The NYO bucks the trend: 52% of the new line-up is female, including the leader (Stephanie Childress, 15). Section principals are equally divided between boys and girls. The orchestra was founded by a woman, Ruth Railton. Its patron, chair, chief executive, finance director and rehearsal conductor are women. The world premiere commission for the orchestra’s 2015 Easter concert is by Unsuk Chin, and three of the NYO’s own six young composer members are female.

Read more here.




  • Halldor says:

    This is not at all unusual for youth orchestras; the NYOGB is atypical only in that the national media pay attention to it!

  • J. says:

    “WOW”. And they sound better BECAUSE of this?

    • Emil Archambault says:

      No, they sound just as good. And that is exactly the point: an orchestra can be fairly balanced and be an excellent orchestra.

  • Stuart Johnson says:

    Why don’t you apply this nonsense to great composers? You are fundamentally dishonest and a liar like all journalists.

    • Paul Sullivan says:


      You sound like like quite the misogynist concerning your first statement. Even today women are treated FAR less fair then men, let alone starting 150 years ago, or more, when much of what we hear in the standard repertoire was written. They never had a chance!

      Your second statement is not only extremely rude, but silly also.

  • william osborne says:

    The NY Phil was 49% women in 2009. In 2010 the BBC London was 50% women, The Hallé 49%, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra 47.5%.

    In 2010 the UK orchestras averaged 39% women — probably a bit higher now.

    See the stats for all the major UK orchestras here:

    The numbers for women conductors and composers are vastly lower. Much work to be done in those areas.

    • Stereo says:

      Undoubtedly one reason are the low salaries,so family men are less inclined to apply.

      • william osborne says:

        Statistically women have a higher representation in lower paying orchestras and are least represented in the most prestigious orchestras. Note, for example, that the LSO has the lowest representation in the UK. And note how the pecking order of the 5 London orchestras follows almost exactly their representation of women. (See the table I link to above.)