A woman conductor changes orchestras ‘one note at a time’

A woman conductor changes orchestras ‘one note at a time’


norman lebrecht

April 21, 2018

A report on the rise of women conductors in French-speaking Canada.

Watch here.


  • william osborne says:

    Can someone list women conductors with significant postions in…uh…French-speaking France?

  • Geoff says:

    The late Wilhelmina Brico had her debut as a conductor with the BPO, yes the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, but she was Dutch, but that’s close tho’.

  • MacroV says:

    Setting the path for Susanna Malkki to take over the OSM…

    • V.Lind says:

      I doubt the OSM takes its marching orders, or even its cultural clues, from Radio Canada. But I would not put it past OSM to choose a woman — and Malkki would have to be a top contender — just to remind everyone how cool it is.

      Impressive that Canada, with its relatively small population, has 14 women conductors of professional orchestras as opposed to the US with 11 and France with only 5. I get ticked off with all the pieces on here pushing women in ways that seem to disregard talent. But 14 in Canada has to represent a significant percentage. As I live here, I consider it a non-issue.

      I suspect the day is coming when women will take over podiums as they seem to have taken over producing programmes at the CBC. (And various other things, but that is part of a larger discussion about men in society and the way they are being raised, educated and treated in general).

      • Emil says:

        V. Lind., that’s 14% vs 11 and 5%, not a number of conductors. The visual is very badly done, but the text states it clearly.

        As for the OSM choosing Malkki to be ‘cool’, I personally would be delighted if Mälkki were appointed, for musical reasons. Hard to see how she is any lesser than any other contender, musically. She’d be top notch.

        • V.Lind says:

          I don’t disagree, Emil. The comment was a reflection on OSM, not Malkki. But to be fair, they do go in for topnotch conductors, however out of favour Dutoit is these days, and Nagano for that matter, Lots of people and places have esteemed both of them highly.

  • Thomasina says:

    “Cheffes”? My son (teenager) said me that we don’t use “une cheffe” anymore and “chef” is a gender isomorphic word like “médecin”.

    • Sue says:

      Sounds like you were given your “or-ders” ( hors d’oeuvres) by a recently ‘educated’ child.

      • Thomasina says:

        Hahaha. That’s me who asked him about “cheffe” because l thought that I had not seen this expression for a long time (and I confess they master English much better than I do).

  • John Rook says:

    This has been getting boring for quite a while. I remember playing under a woman conductor over thirty years ago in London and having no problem with the arrangement on any level. She went on to have an excellent career (we last spoke after a concert she conducted with the LA Phil a few years ago). Let it develop naturally and all will be well.

  • Ben says:

    We need this article to be more click-bait like, so here it is:


    • Dave says:

      What an appalling headline. “A woman” — presumably she has a name?

      The original states, “Femmes cheffes d’orchestre : changer les mentalités une note à la fois” which translates to “Women conductors: changing minds one note at a time”.