New baton on the block: Gemma wins major management

The rising conductor Gemma New has been signed up by Charlotte Lee’s boutique Primo Artists, where she will share services with Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell and Nicola Benedetti.

Gemma, 32, a New Zealander, is music director at Hamilton, Ontario, and is about to become principal guest with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. She is also resident conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and music director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.


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  • One day, hopefully, you will realise that referring to female musicians by first name only (or referring to married female musicians by the name of their husband) is unacceptable. It is demeaning and betrays a lack of seriousness. Why is this article about “Gemma”, when every article about men in the past few pages has the full name, and refers to them in the body of the article by last name? After the reference at “Mrs Gelb” a few days ago, this is disappointing.

    And by the way, there’s ample research and evidence on this. Here’s a press release from Cornell with multiple links to scientific studies about this phenomenon:

    • Fair point. Another way to look at it is that she’s on track to become a one-name celebrity, like Midori, Malala, or Mirga.

      On this site, Gustavo Dudamel is usually referred to here (including by Norman, IIRC) as Dude; Yannick Nezet-Seguin as Yannick or YNZ, Zubin Mehta as Zubin, and Sir Simon Rattle as Simon or Sir Simon.

      But the “Mrs. Gelb” reference the other day was inappropriate both for the reasons you cite and because “Mr. Gelb” was not relevant to the story.

      • Let’s take Mehta as an example.
        A few days ago, the headline was “ZUBIN IS GIVEN NEW TITLE IN LA”. First sentence refers to “Zubin Mehta”, and afterwards to “Mehta”.

        Here, it’s “Gemma”, “Gemma New”, and…”Gemma”.

        There’s also a difference between personal brands – Yannick, Midori, Oprah, Ellen, etc. – and others. Often, it has to do in classical music with non-English names (Nézet-Séguin, Goto, etc.). For Rattle, Sir Simon is the proper address for people with a title. As for “Dude”, you don’t think that is meant to indicate a lack of seriousness? “Dude” for Dudamel has been around for exactly as long as complaints about Dudamel being an unserious kid (arguably, although I’m not entirely sure, I suspect there’s a bit of the same with “Yannick”). So let’s not kid ourselves – Gemma New is not on the road to first-name branding – at least, not yet.

        By the way, coming back to “Dude” and “Yannick”: in academia, there’s been plenty of discussion about how, for male professors, being informal and approachable, dropping the “professor” or “doctor” title is an asset – you’re cool, friendly, etc. For women, it betrays a lack of seriousness (more here:

        • Er…it is rather difficult to call Gemma New just by the name “New”, and would make the text a bit confusing. Hence if you want to use only one part of the full name then you have to use “Gemma”.

          Only snobs luxuriate is calling Simon Rattle by the name “Sir Simon” (whatever is stated in certain style guides).

          As for academic titles…in most academic contexts one would not use “Doctor” or “Professor” before the name regardless of whether the person is male of female.

    • Methinks we’re getting a bit petty over this stuff. If it’s a faux paux, I’d rate it as rather minor, not worthy of a two paragraph scold and link to an article on gender bias.

      Norman has done a good job of shining a spotlight on conductors who are women. The only sexism I have observed on this blog almost always comes from the good old (most likely) boys here in the peanut gallery.

      • It’s a faux pas that happens in nearly every article about female conductors on this blog.

        Of course, Mr Lebrecht deserves commendation for his highlighting of issues of underrepresentation of female conductors, musicians in the Vienna Phil, etc. He has done great work in highlighting those issues. But that does not excuse more subtle sexism, such as referring to women by first name only, calling Keri-Lynn Wilson “Ms Gelb”, obsessing over Yuja Wang’s dresses, etc. And again, this is not the first this occurs and has been pointed out.

  • So. She hasn’t got a last name? I’m glad to see I’m not the only one being thoroughly puzzled by this…

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