Andrea ‘Fluterscooter’ Fisher was getting excited about this summer’s new category at the Tchaikovsky Competition – until she saw the age limit:
In light of the famed Tchaikovsky Competition opening to woodwinds for the first time since its beginning in 1958, the flute community was abuzz with excitement. A friend suggested I enter, and the first woodwind prize of $30,000 caught my eye, not for myself (as I’m well “expired”) but for other deserving flutists. Of course, I knew there was a catch as I read through the competition rules: “The age limit of participants as of the date of the Competition opening for instrumentalists is not younger than 16 and not older than 32 years of age inclusive.” Facebook’s latest vanity meme wants to know “How Well You Have Aged in 10 Years,” and in an age where we refuse to be defined by age, we sure like to be reminded that we haven’t aged one bit. However, the jury members of flute competitions do not care if we look 25; you can’t put filters on your birth certificate, and in the case of the Tchaikovsky competition, if you’re over 32, you’re TOO OLD. Compared to the other big International Competitions, the Tchaikovsky has a generous maximum age requirement. For the Nielsen and Prague Spring Competitions: cutoff is 30. The NFA Young Artist competition is also 30. The Kobe Competition, 32.
So, what is the message that is telling us? How is that affecting our mental health as musicians, for those who are older and for those who are in their 20’s or younger? I remember my 19th birthday. It was the first birthday I did not wish to celebrate, as I felt I was starting my race against the fast ticking clock of the classical music industry. It wasn’t until after I turned 30 that I started embracing my age, since I was already expired and nothing I could do about it (except printing a fake birth certificate, which I considered..)…
Read on here.
Ageism in classical music? We need to talk.