Exclusive: London orchestra establishes ‘50% female leadership’

Exclusive: London orchestra establishes ‘50% female leadership’


norman lebrecht

March 02, 2017

The City of London Sinfonia has decided that ‘from this Autumn, their Artistic leadership will be 50% female, and at least one female conductor or director perform at every one of their major artistic series.’

The artistic leadership will be split between  Principal Conductor Michael Collins and Creative Director, violinist Alexandra Wood.

The CLS already has more women principals than men, a ratio of 3:2.



  • Buxtehude says:

    Does anybody else pick up the dank scent of tokenism here? Why not 100%, playing compositions 100% by women? Real women, 100% women, who live the lives of women, compose as and like women!

    And why — while we’re at it — should men be left to creep into the audience — : snoring husbands, fat bald white men all of them, or teetering old coots with beeping hearing aids to ruin golden silences?

  • Myrtar says:

    If men organized something like this … where do I even start!

    • Cyril Blair says:

      Where does one even start with the idiocy of your comment?

    • Nick says:

      Agree with your comment. Men might have been accused of male domination. Quotas are a terrible idea no matter where. Only talent, professionalism and ability must be considered in any field of expertise.

  • Buxtehude says:

    No Myrtar it’s over, let’s face it.

  • V.Lind says:

    It’s ridiculous. Quotas always are in professions where skill is required.

    There will be more and more women musicians because, as with everything else difficult and requiring application, fewer boys than girls and fewer young men than young women are putting in the effort. More women lawyers, doctors, scientists, musicians — it’s inevitable. The cream will rise without schemes like this.

    • Steven Holloway says:

      Excellent comment. I’m at an age when I don’t have time to waste on nonsense, so my reaction to this was essentially: fine — as long as the best musicians wind up in those chairs, i.e., as long as the cream rises. And within orchestras, it always seems to. When it comes to conductors and directors…not so much. With the CoLS, I’m pretty sure it will be fine, but I wouldn’t want to see the conductors and directors of many other orchestras appointed after this fashion.

      • Talking the Talk says:

        It’s so sweet that some of you contributors actually still believe that conductors and MD’s around the world are where they are as they represent the cream that’s risen to the top.

        At any rate, as you know, it’s not just the cream that rises to the top but also scum.

  • Sue says:

    Go the girls!!!

  • Buxtehude says:

    On the contrary v.lind, this so-called “initiative” stinks of tokenism. Just glance back over history — the question puts itself: Why not 100%? Why not 100% women composers also, not merely female composers, either, but real women, who live the lives of women, feel as women, compose in the woman’s way.

    And why (moreover) should men be allowed to creep into the audience, most of them snoring husbands, fat bald white men, to put it in plain English or decrepit old coots who destroy silences with feedback from their hearing aids.

    • Nick says:

      Brilliant! Buxtehude
      Get men out of the music business altogether!! Who needs them?!?
      The next thing coming will be the orchestra of 55% African transgender refugees from 7 Obama/Trump-banned islamic countries.

      Absolute tokenism. Yes, Buxtehude, we noticed alright! People forgot about Music! Political correctness is the King of the World.

    • Buxtehude says:

      Sorry about the double, didn’t realize the first had posted

    • V.Lind says:

      Of course it’s tokenism. What did you think I meant by excoriating quotas? I’m saying that — in my view — this is a situation that is going to take care of itself for those who feel women are not getting enough places. To the point that down the road men may well be looking for tokenism and quotas to redress the imbalance that is coming.

      You just have to look at the enrollment stats in the professional departments at universities and listen to the credits for producers in radio to know that more and more women are beginning to dominate tough jobs. They stay in school and they work harder (decades, centuries, of conditioning that in order to do half as well they have to be twice as good — and they are rising to it). It’s inevitable in music too. Boys and young men are ducking the hard stuff.

  • Sidney says:

    Doesn’t this mean a lowering of standards? Isn’t that called the “soft bigotry of low expectations?”

  • Bruce says:

    I think we all know there are plenty of women qualified for these roles — probably at least 50% of all those qualified are women — and AFAICT the point is to make sure they get hired in fair proportion to the openings available. Seems fair to me.

    P.S. in response to Myrtar: if an orchestra announced a plan that 50% of their artistic leadership would be male, with at least one male conductor for each major concert series, then that would actually be pretty great, wouldn’t it?

  • Flex Ang says:

    50% quotas for flute and and harp as well?

  • Mumswallet says:

    As a woman, I find this appalling. Jobs on merit, not gender!

    • Nick says:

      I find your statement COMMENDABLE!! Thank you!

    • Bruce says:

      Gender (or, rather, sex) and merit are not mutually exclusive.

      I don’t understand the mindset that seems to assume that putting gender on the list of relevant requirements means compromising quality. Women probably comprise at least 50% of people qualified for any post, so why not make a point of hiring in proportion? Even if it comes to a situation where, say, there’s a vacancy in a 4-member leadership committee, and it’s currently comprised of 2 men and 1 woman, it’s highly doubtful that this or any group would have to resort to hiring someone who was poorly (or un-) qualified simply because their quota called for someone female. Would they have to pass over someone “better” who was male? Possibly; but they also might end up passing over a “better” female candidate.

      • Nick says:

        Gee!! Bruce, you are such a Lefty, that simple things you cannot let go and/or understand….
        Mumswallet is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT: gender does NOT matter!!! What matters is the quality of talent and professionalism!! Why do you, Lefties, have always to be so sickeningly politically correct ?!?
        Just learn this: GENDER DOES NOT MATTER!!! NOTHING MATTERS BUT TALENT, stupid!!