Conductor wanted. Only women need apply

Conductor wanted. Only women need apply


norman lebrecht

July 03, 2018

Message received:

Welsh National Opera is aware of some of the challenges faced by women entering into a conducting career, and we are keen to find ways to re-address the gender balance across the industry.  We are delighted to announce the launch of a new programme, specifically for women that offers one aspiring conductor, age 19 – 35 years, a residency post with WNO. The residency will include mentoring with another established female conductor working in the UK and mentoring support from different departments within WNO, an opportunity to work directly with WNO Orchestra across different repertoire (main scale, youth and community and family concert projects). 


  • Will Duffay says:

    I’m sure they partly do these things just to annoy the crusty old reactionary misogynists at SD!

  • Emma says:

    Tasmanian Symphony has a similar program. And our Assistant Conductor is Elena Schwarz, one of the new Dudamel fellows!

  • Andreas B. says:

    a similar program in Solingen/Remscheid, Germany –
    among others, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and Oksana Lyniv seem to have been working there:

  • elizabeth owen says:

    Excellent idea, well done WNO.

  • Dominic Stafford says:


  • Tom Hagen says:

    Can someone please tell me if British women are somehow discriminated against or prevented from becoming conductors? If a, frankly, discriminatory and mildly insulting programme such as this is necessary it must be horrendous out there for young women in the arts!

    • Von Schneider says:

      #1: There are far fewer female conductors than men.

      #2: The fact that women are under-represented must mean that they are prevented by men from become conductors.

      #3: In order to circumvent this, we at the WNO will create a conducting residency programme that deliberately excludes men in an effort to increase female representation and rectify the imbalance.

      #4: In the process of creating this programme, we realize that we are not getting at the root of the issue. Instead of having a frank discussion about why women do not want to be conductors to the same degree as men, in an ironic twist the programme that was supposed to eradicate perceived discrimination within the arts has in fact contributed to additional discrimination by excluding men who now feel trampled upon. Despite our misgivings, however, we will not back down and will keep vehemently insisting that these sort of initiatives are exactly what the art world needs.

      • Cameron Savage says:

        #5 Any woman who owes her start to a program like this has talent that is suspect at best because she couldn’t complete for a real position.

        • Mary says:

          As a woman, I agree with you. I would want to compete with men as well as with other women. Then, if I were chosen, I would know that I deserved the position.

      • Una says:

        Well done for addressing the situation at all!

      • R. Brite says:

        “a frank discussion about why women do not want to be conductors to the same degree as men”? Oh, honey.

      • Elizabeth Owen says:

        Never use the definite article Von. It’s always WNO. If you work for them you should know this.

      • Sue says:

        Read the academic literature from academic psychologists about the differences between men and women which have a great deal of impact on the roles they choose in life. They’re not HUGE differences – men prefer things and women prefer people – but on the bell curve the majority sit in the middle and they have other interests apart from careers.

        But don’t bother with the literature when you can call up your prejudices and sacred lefty pieties. That way EVERYBODY can play the victim game.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Point #2 is a logical error.

    • Una says:

      Basically, yes, but not overtly. Like ageism, they always find another reason for you not getting the job never mentioning women or age!!!

      • Tom Hagen says:

        You say that, but what makes you think that a failure on your part to secure a position (I presume you are talking from experience) was due to gender discrimination? That is quite a leap, and I’m not sure if that leap is necessarily justified unless you have concrete proof.

        Besides – even if you were correct – do you really think the way to rectify the problem is to deliberately exclude men? Surely the goal here is to bring about a world in which prospective conductors are rated on a gender-neutral basis no? I struggle to understand how the WNO’s approach is for the better.

  • Empowered Femme says:

    This is a clear sign that conducting will become an ALL women profession! Men are not meant to be conductors and have corrupted the profession. Women are inherently better at conducting.

    • John Borstlap says:

      We are better at EVERYTHING, only the men don’t want to see this. Look at nature: it’s WE who choose the man, it’s WE who procreate, it’s WE wo change the dipers and do the potty training, the shopping, the cooking, and it was WE who drove our husbands to the invention of the vacuum cleaner, washing machine etc. so that WE would have more time for conducting. Of course we can do that too better because WE know intuitively what THEY are thinking of all the time!


      • Ellingtonia says:

        There, there, love……….take a couple of paracetamol and have a lie down for a little while, while we men get on with running the world!

  • Inevitably Frustrated says:

    Let’s face it, women are taking over everything. This is a sign of our times.

  • Murosami says:

    Surely it would be illegal if they advertised only for men. Goose and gander?

  • Karl Amenda says:

    As a young conducting student in the UK it is an almost weekly occurrence that I receive an email or see an advert publicising workshops or courses which look like excellent opportunities which I would love to apply for. My initial excitement is so often cut short when I read those dreaded lines ‘female identifying only’. Are there any all-male master classes or is it time for a sex change?

    • Ellingtonia says:

      Just apply and tell them that you self identify as a female on every third Tuesday and Thursday in the month………………….