They don’t ask Paavo Järvi if his beauty is distracting to musicians

From Deutsche Welle’s documentary with conductor Alondra de la Parra:

‘In 99 percent of the interviews, I get asked questions that I know that my male colleagues would never get asked. So I am going to do something interesting about that, and it’s going to be really fun, you’ll see!

‘But yes, there’s just no way out of these very strange questions that almost every person who interviews me asks.

Such as?

Like: ‘Do you feel the musicians are distracted because you’re beautiful?” They wouldn’t ask Paavo Järvi that! Or Simon Rattle or Daniel Barenboim. Or things like: “How do you manage your time with being a mother and a conductor?” Well, all these male conductors also have kids, and they never get asked that, do they?’

Read on here.



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  • They wouldn’t ask those conductors that question as they are decidedly NOT beautiful. But I’m sorry to learn that being female is a big drag for this woman. Perhaps she can transition if it doesn’t suit her. Oh, Princess, you’re so special.

  • Men and women are different, as is their experience of the world, so I think it perfectly reasonable to ask men and women different types of questions. Sorry feminists, but the sexes are different, however much you would like them not to be. That’s never going to change.

    I think the interviewers are probably trying to be complimentary by saying that she is beautiful and asking if this is distracting, so it should not be taken as an insult, which, to be fair, she does not. However, I know many other women do take such questions as insults. Also, men do react differently to female beauty, than women do to male beauty. Research has shown that men can suffer cognitive impairment and a decline in mental performance when interacting with women, but the same research found that this was not the case the other way around.

    There is also always the issue of whether an orchestra will respect the authority of a given conductor, man or woman. People typically associate certain characteristics with authority, given the frequency with which one finds them paired. Age is one, gravity in demeanour is another, and yes, there are more male authority figures. Moreover, given a common tendency in the entertainment industry to replace expertise with youth and beauty, as we saw when Arlene Phillips was replaced by Alesha Dixon on Strictly Come Dancing or when young female presenters host sporting punditry shows, despite having no background in the sport, it’s not unreasonable for journalists to ask Alondra de la Parra questions about whether she has encountered any scepticism, even though that is not being complained about here and she is qualified to be a conductor.

    There are significant differences between men and women when it comes to procreation and arrangements for the provisioning of offspring, so de la Parra should not be so incredulous when questions are asked about how she manages motherhood with her conducting.

    • Alondra is mediocre, at best. I should know – I have been no more than four feet away from her while she is “conducting”

      • That would not surprise me. I had not heard of her until this article and have not seen or heard her perform. I was just going off her bio, which shows that she has had the training.

  • Wonderful interview, and she is sooooo right!!! That we (and I really mean most of us) are so entrenched in the “traditional” thinking that stupidities like that are being asked tells us that there is a long, long way to go for real equality.

    • there is a long way. but not the one you apparently envision. the way to equality is in focusing on the commonality, on the humanity, of men and women. not by focusing on the differences. All postmodern feminism does is deepening the trenches instead of bridging them.
      A clever social engineering concept by the elites to keep us divided and thus controlled. very clever.

      Re ‘traditional thinking’: what’s wrong with it? There is this saying: “There are two kind of fools. one who says something is old and therefore better. The other who says something is new and therefore better.”

      Traditional or new, those are just temporal attributes that say nothing about an intrinsic artistic quality.

  • who cares about a dilletant fake conductress ? She s a product of a rich Family and, of Course, of the press today. nothing on her is a musician or a conductor. but this makes sense as well: there are many male fake conductors, now we have a real female fake product .

      • absolutely right, many of the so called ‘famous’ conductors in our times built up their career on the money and influence of rich families, bankers etc .. very little is about a gift or abilities ..

    • Spot on!!! The « press » esp anglophone countries is nothing more than propagandaand advocacy for certain genitalia.

    • I think you mean ‘dilettante’. And conductress is not a word. ‘Family’ and ‘Course’ are not capitalized in the way you used the words (Are you Donald Trump?). Brilliant post.

      • thanks for correcting and your time. i appreciate. i ll tell Auto correct (ups) . anyway, i think you get very clearly what it is About .. (ups) .

      • Exactly! Conductor is a job title, like President, Senator or Doctor or Lawyer! There’s nothing called “Conductress” (maybe Maîtresse, but that’s open to discussion), or “Presidentress” or “Senatress” or “Doctress” (except in italian = “Dottore versus Dottoressa) or “Advocatress”!!

        Alondra dances the music because that’s how she feels it, and wether it’s “esthetically correct” or not, it’s at least honest. Nobody complained about Lennie’s “orgasmic leaps”, although yes, Lennie was a genius.
        We’ll see in 50 years if Alondra manages to write herself into the History of Music (as much as the
        male counterparts of her generation!)…

        • Er…the word “Conductress” is a word. It was written and I understood it. My understanding of what the word means matches what the person meant when it was said. This makes it a word.

          Just because you (or I) haven’t heard it used before, or you disapprove that this word was used does not stop it being a word.

    • Yes, and well on display in this comment section.

      It is one thing to engage in artistic criticism of the conductor. It is another thing to throw about blatantly sexist insinuations about “pelvic thrusts”; or to belittle her as a “conductress”; or to rebut her with comments to the effect of “ah-ha, but she’s *not* attractive”.

      Those asinine comments aside, the overarching problem here is the assumption that this is uniquely about de la Parra, as though there isn’t a history of women in leadership positions, across all walks of life and across the world, encountering gratuitous remarks about their appearance or condescending questions about how they balance their professional role with their home life.

  • I sort of understand her point, but as a “skilled media communicator” she must realize the novelty she represents in the world of classical music: a moderately attractive heterosexual cis-female is relatively unusual. It would seem natural to me that people may wish to get to know the person who is in such a position as much as the music at this point. If she ever scales the artistic ladder to the heights of a Barenboim (she may already have in her own mind), then perhaps she could be recognized solely for her genius.

  • I am surprised that serious music journalists ask those questions. Maybe magazine lifestyle types or those general interest articles who have come along out of curiosity about her.

    Certainly, it seems strange to ponder such issues when they don’t ask women in other professions such as company CEO’s, senior barristers etc.

    What do others think?

  • The line between the genders, now the last frontier of the ruling elites to divide our societies right through the middle of it, right down into the core cells of it, the families. Divide and conquer. Women against men. It works, very clever.

  • How arrogant. She is the worst musician one could imagine. With Paavo Järvi, Simon Rattle and Daniel Barenboim, it is possible to discuss music, a topic on which she has zero knowledge.

    • All right, you’ve been linking to a video of De La Parra *in rehearsal* conducting what is *literally called a “dance”* having apparently no detrimental effect on the orchestra for five years now. Kindly move on.

      By the way, the article is literally about how people focus on her appearance rather than on her music, and this is your reply?

      Finally, good thing we’ve all forgotten about that mediocre musician Leonard Bernstein. I mean, far too much dancing on the podium to be someone respectable, right?

    • Well, not really wilder than what we used to see Leonard Bernstein do. Gotta admit: I’m a huge Lenny fan, so I can really criticize “histrionic” conductors.

  • She names conductors she’s not remotely close to in age—and she’s simply not at that level of musician. She just had a baby in 2016 and 2018.

    Plenty of male musicians have been asked about balancing their international careers with fatherhood.

    Hard to forget that video of her conducting that French orchestra.

    • Ah yes, sexism is acceptable if it’s directed to young mothers.
      Also, Rattle, Barenboim and Järvi were presumably created fully formed at middle age?

  • And then there are actually good-looking women conductors like Keri-Lynn Wilson (no comments about her as Gelb’s wife, please), Mirga, Barbara Hannigan and others whose good looks fade into the background because they are outshined by their talent. Too bad Alondra de la Parra only has the looks.

  • The only thing distracting to the musicians with this no-talent hack is her lack of any conducting skills. Total charlatan through and through who must spend all of her time practicing in front of a mirror.

  • Alondra de la Parra is one of the truly great mediocrities out there. (I’ll leave it at that because my dad always told me I should be polite even when I wanted to be critical and blunt.)

  • I am sorry to say this: some one who has suffered under Ms de la Parra’s baton I can only say that in her case her beauty (and the music illiterate audience she draws) is the only reason she is allowed to stand in front of an orchestra. This is not the case for other female conductors but it I cannot think of any other reason, given her poor conducting technique, questionable musical taste, and her lack of music ideas on her own.

  • It’s amazing to see all the sexists come out of the woodwork when NL posts news about conductors who happen to be women.

    • hahaha, reminds of that old joke about the jewish man, cursed with a stuttering disorder, who auditioned for a speaker job with national radio. when asked how it went he said: ‘D-d-d-didn’t g-g-g-get it. D-d-d-damn A-a-a-antisemites.”

  • She does not reveal which journalists have asked her these “strange questions” in “99 percent” of her interviews. Can anyone find any of these numerous interviews in any publication? Have the “very strange questions” been suppressed?
    I have performed under several excellent professional female conductors. She is not one of them.

  • Haven’t heard her conduct. OK, until I saw this post, I hadn’t heard of her existence, period. But I have to say, as a professional writer, I’m pretty sure I would never ask a female interview subject that kind of question. Frankly, I’d just feel silly and be embarrassed to ask it.

    Same thing when I was doing reviews of recordings by female performers who were, subjectively speaking, physically attractive. I purposely *never* commented on their appearance in the piece. Seriously, what’s it got to do with musical talent? (I reviewed Yuja once; my main concern was that she sounded tentative and not well-rehearsed.)

    BTW, an excellent, very talented conductor who happens to be a woman is JoAnn Falletta. Did a really powerful Bruckner Fourth in Des Moines two years ago.

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