Six women make the cut for elite conducting course

Six women make the cut for elite conducting course


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2016

Dallas Opera is setting the pace for young women conductors. Out of 156 applicants for the next course, six have been selected. They are:


Elizabeth Askren has worked as Assistant Music Director in leading European venues (Théâtre des Champs Elysées, The Concertgebouw, etc.) and has guest conducted orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  Débuts for the 2015-16 season include concerts with the Romanian National Opera in Cluj and the Opera Orchestra of Toulon.  Ms. Askren is a laureate of France’s ADAMI, and has received fellowships from the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Royaumont Foundation, and the Aldeburgh Festival.  A finalist candidate for the Mahler Competition, she was invited by Lorin Maazel as “Apprentice Conductor” for the inaugural season of the Castleton Festival in Virginia. She is the subject of several radio and press interviews, and is currently a Young Leader of the French American Foundation.  Ms. Askren holds diplomas in piano and conducting from the Juilliard School, Oberlin Conservatory, and the Conducting Institute of Bard in the United States, and the Schola Cantorum and the Ecole Normale de Musique in France.



Mihaela Cesa-Goje gained widespread attention in 2009 as the winner of the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship founded by Marin Alsop and in 2010, a Conducting Grant from the League of American Orchestras.  In 2011, she was awarded the Dudamel Fellowship from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and later that same year, was selected from a field of 160 candidates for a masterclass with Bernard Haitink and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.  Earlier in her career, Ms. Cesa-Goje received the “Sandor Vegh Prize” from the Romanian Mozart Society for an outstanding performance of Mozart’s “Der Schauspiele Direktor” at the Cluj National Opera, Romania.  In 2005, she completed her Conducting Diploma at the Royal Academy of Music in London and was awarded the Irene Burcher Prize.  In 2013, she earned a graduate degree in conducting from Gh Dima Music Academy in Cluj, Romania, where she studied with Florentin Mihaescu. She also studied with Harold Farberman, Gustav Meier, Patrick Russill and Roland Börger.  Ms. Cesa-Goje is regularly invited to Cluj National Opera. In her first season (2014) she conducted eight different titles.


mihaela cesa


As a musician of many talents with a charismatic personality and artistic sensibility, Alexandra Cravero has quickly earned the reputation of being one of this generation’s conductors to watch.  With a National Diploma and Masters in viola and conducting from the National French Conservatory, Alexandra was also finalist at the Besancon, Pedrotti, and Cadaques competitions.  She has assisted Pierre Boulez, Kurt Masur, Tito Ceccherini, Patrick Davin and directed the BBC, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic, the Sofia Radio, the Theatre de La Monnaie and the Opera National du Rhin Orchestras.  On the operatic stage, she has directed, among others, Annick Massis, Michael Spyres, Magdalena Kožená, and Etienne Dupuis.  Her vast operatic repertoire spans many centuries: Carmen, The Pearl Fishers, Norma, Faust, Porgy and Bess, The Cunning LittleVixen, Reigen, and Doctor Atomic, to name a few.  Upcoming engagements will see Alexandra Cravero direct The Tales of Hoffmann, Tosca, La traviata, and the Orchestre National de Lille at the Paris Philharmonic Hall.

Now based in the United Kingdom, Tianyi Liu is the Junior Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Music Director Designate of the Bristol Metropolitan Orchestra. She has been assistant conductor toThomas Søndergård with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Sir Mark Elder with the Hallé, Alice Farnham with the Welsh National Youth Opera and Carlo Rizzi at the RWMCD.  She is regularly engaged by orchestras throughout Wales and New Zealand and was Music Director of The Magic Flute with Opera Otago.  Ms. Liu has studied with David Jones, John Hopkins and Uwe Grodd and has attended masterclasses with Bernard Haitink, Neemi Järvi, Sian Edwards, Alexander Polynichko, Marin Alsop and Kenneth Kiesler.  She was voted as a finalist at the twelfth ‘Interaktion’ conducting workshop by players of the Berlin Philharmonic and professional players in Germany.



Winner of the 2009 International Conductors’ Workshop and Competition, Chaowen Ting currently serves as Conductor of the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra. A protégé of Bernard Haitink, Ting studied with the maestro at Lucerne Festival and was later invited by Haitink to observe his work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Outside of the U.S., she has conducted the Lucerne Festival Strings (Switzerland), Mihail Jora Bacău Philharmonic (Romania), Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra (Croatia), St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic (Russia), and Orquesta Filarmónica de Honduras (Honduras).  She won the 2013 Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship and was a Conducting Fellow at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.  In addition to her symphonic repertoire, opera productions she directed received honors from National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competitions for two consecutive years.



Zoe Zeniodi has conducted productions at the Florida Grand Opera, Greek National Opera, the Onassis Cultural Center and guest conducted all the major Greek orchestras as well as Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra, the Brno Philharmonic, Palm Beach Symphony, New Florida Philhamornic, and JONDE, among others.  She is currently the Music Director of Broward Symphony Orchestra, Momentum Athens Chamber Orchestra and the Associate Music Director of the Festival of the Aegean.  Previous positions include: Chief Conductor of MOYSA, Assistant/Cover Conductor for Florida Grand Opera, Music Director of Alhambra Orchestra and Associate Conductor of Frost Symphony Orchestra. She has released five CD recordings of contemporary music.  Ms. Zeniodi holds a DMA in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Miami and also studied at the Royal College of Music and the Mozarteum, Salzburg.


zoe zeniodi


  • Malcolm James says:

    Minor correction. It’s Tianyi Lu, not Liu (mistake in original Dallas Opera release).

  • Malcolm James says:

    You haven’t corrected her name in line 1 of her bio.

  • Chaowen says:

    My nationality is Taiwan not USA. Would you please correct it for me? I have also emailed Dallas Opera about this. Thank you.

    • Chaowen says:

      Thank you for the help. I would like to add that I am a green card holder making me a legal resident of the United States.

  • MDS says:

    Your obsession with this would be cute, if it weren’t so stupid.

    • Bruce says:

      When successful female conductors are commonplace, then female conductors succeeding will no longer be news. Until then, like it or not, it’s news.

      (Ever notice how gay marriages no longer make the front page of newspapers? 🙂 )

  • Lev says:

    Women-only news/courses/jobs are getting really annoying. Could Norman possibly think of limiting them to two-a-week?