At Besancon, it’s 17 men and 3 women in the conducting finals

At Besancon, it’s 17 men and 3 women in the conducting finals


norman lebrecht

May 24, 2017

Glass ceiling?

Here are the 20 finalists, selected from a field of 255:

  • M. Ivan DEMIDOV, Russia (26 years)
  • M. Ben GLASSBERG, UK (23 years)
  • M. Jordan GUDEFIN, France (28 years)
  • M. Marc HAJJAR, France (33 years) *
  • M. Mario HARTMUTH, Germany (29 years)
  • Mme Wing Wun IP, Hong Kong (31 years)
  • M. Victor JACOB, France (26 years)
  • M. Hee-Beom JEON, South Korea (33 years)
  • Mme Yuwon KIM, South Korea (29 years) *
  • M. Andrew LING, Hong Kong (34 years)
  • M. Gregor MAYRHOFER, Germany(29 years)
  • M. Luigi MAZZOCCHI, Italy (30 years)
  • M. Stefano NIGRO, Italy (26 years)
  • M. Gabriel PHILIPPOT, France (29 years)
  • M. Maxime PITOIS, France (29 years)
  • M. Rui RODRIGUES, Portugal (29 years)
  • M. Ngai Cheung SIT, Hong Kong (28 years)
  • Mme Chloé VAN SOETERSTÈDE, France (28 years)
  • M. Yuan XUE, China (29 years)
  • M. Su-Han YANG, Taiwan (28 years)


  • Andrew R. Barnard says:

    Yup, they must’ve eliminated all the other women purely on the basis of their sex.

    Anything else new to report, Norman?

  • Malcolm James says:

    Do we know how many women there were amongst the 255 entrants? If not, the comment is meaningless.

  • anon says:

    you might be interested to see the forthcoming season at the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne. The balance between male and female conductors, particularly in the Sunday ‘Dominicales’ series, makes interesting reading:
    Related article:


    Anyone of African descent? Carpathian? Maltese?

    • Holly Golightly says:

      Anyone with one leg shorter than the other?!! Unfair discrimination; I want something done about it. Now!!

      • Max Grimm says:

        Of all humans with two intact legs, roughly 57% have unequal leg-length.
        Statistically this exonerates the competition and renders baseless your claim of leg-length discrimination.

  • HKPhil Fan says:

    Andrew Ling happens to be also the Principal Violist in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. A mighty fine player – congrats!

  • Cyril Blair says:

    You can make fun of Norman all you want for drawing attention to this, but I am always glad when he hammers on this issue. Hammering is better than silence, which is inexcusable.

    Everyone knows more women end up getting hired when you have blind auditions than when you don’t have blind auditions. Why is that?

    Maybe all competitions should be blind too.

    • Andrew R. Barnard says:

      Blind conducting auditions? Really? And if you’re just referring to orchestral auditions, then you’re off topic.

      I wonder if more male harpists would be hired if there were more blind auditions. Something really evil and sinister must be going on there.

      • Bruce says:

        Maybe they could have all the candidates conduct the same orchestra, and have the orchestra not look at any of them. That would make it more like real-life conducting, at least 😛

  • Janna Hymes says:

    In 1989 I won a prize at the Besancon Competition which was a great thrill. There were not many women competing that year and I felt completely en par with the guys. There have been other instances I felt the opposite, and how I long for the day when this is a non-issue!

  • HKMusician says:

    Congrats to Andrew Ling – who also happens to be the principal violist of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra!

  • Bruce says:

    Not long ago, a 3:17 ratio of female:male conductors would have caused an uproar (good or bad) because the number was so high. I call this progress.

    Does anyone remember when professional sports teams were considered pioneers for having one or two black players? Any team nowadays that was 90-95% white would be subjected to a lot of scrutiny about their hiring practices (in the US, at least — I’m not familiar with the ethnic makeup of football clubs in all the different European countries).

    Times and norms don’t change overnight, but they do change, and you can see it happening.