Canada is conducted by women

We’ve had a definitive update from Shelley Sharpe of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra to a weekend post:

In response to the article “Canada names woman music director, (not) only its second,” I feel obliged to point out there have been many orchestras with women music directors in our great nation, not the least of which is the Windsor Symphony Orchestra—Susan Haig was our music director from 1991 to 2000.


Agnes Grossmann – Orchestre Metropolitain de Montreal (1986-1995) and Artistic Director of the Toronto Chamber Players (1984-1991)

Jeanne Lamon – Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (1981 – 2014)

Anne Manson – Manitoba Chamber Orchestra (2008 – present)

Rosemary Thomson – Okanagan Symphony Orchestra (2011 – present)

Special mention should go to Keri-Lynn Wilson, a Canadian woman at the helm of the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra.

Together with Tania Miller and Ms. New (pictured), there are four active female music directors in Canada at the moment, and Maestras Grossman, Haig, and Lamon who all made a tremendous impact on the orchestras they led.

gemma new


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  • There’s a much more complex and controversial question about whether the conductor/orchestral relationship in itself isn’t a form of patriarchy. From that perspective, more women conductors is only a partial solution. A fuller solution would be the development of more modern forms of music-making less reliant on authoritarianism, regimentation, and hierarchies, all imbued with the vestiges of romantic, cultural nationalism.

    • I don’t think that having more women conductors is meant to be a solution to the authoritarian nature of the conductor/orchestral relationship. It actually is a solution to women not being accepted when they tell other people what to do. Which is what leading an orchestra is about for the time being. Then of course we can discuss about inventing a non authoritarian way of having an orchestra playing one person’s interpretation of a symphony, but this will be a solution for those who object to regimentation, not a solution to the problem of women being denied access to the podium.

    • …and ditch most of classic–romantic–20th century repertoire with it ?
      No more archaic, authoritarian, structures, just the gentle noises of some of your own timeless masterworks to be heard, performed by enlightened musicians, hand selected by you…

      • “…and ditch most of classic–romantic–20th century repertoire with it ?” No, but match it with music representing our own identity.

        • And what is it that you call “our own identity”? Also, speaking in plural doesn’t really help does it?

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