Jorma Panula now accepts women conductors

Remember the outcry when the Finnish maestro-maker said women could never make it in the podium?

‘Some of them are making faces, sweating and fussing, but it is not getting any better – only worse! They can come [to my masterclasses] and try. It’s not a problem – if they choose the right pieces. If they take more feminine music. Bruckner or Stravinsky will not do, but Debussy is OK. This is a purely biological question.’

Well, Panula has seen the light.

His recent star student, Emilia Hoving is stepping up this week to replace Pablo Heras-Casado with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Emilia, 23, has recently been made assistant to Hannu Lintu at the FRSO.

Amazingly, she hasn’t yet been signed by a certain London agency.

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  • The wonderful Suzanna Mälkki, now 50, was a Panula student. How did she make the cut back then?

  • Panula has admitted women in his workshops ALWAYS. I never heard him talking to any of those women students in a different way than to men. He trains everybody to be a better conductor regardless gender. No need to refresh those unfortunate comments then.

    • How do you explain the comments then? I don’t think he ever sought to set the record straight either.

      • Jorma Panula is a bit of a character and has a reputation for ”colorful language”, but none of his former students have made claims of harassment, personal attacks or unfair treatment based on sex. An 84-year-old man with a history like his making a gaffe which is not seemingly reflected in his actions as a pedagogue and conductor should probably be not overanalyzed.

  • Actually Emilia has been my student in the Sibelius Academy of the University of Arts. She started with our conducting class a few years ago and has been taught by me – as the professor since 2013 – and also by our guest professor Hannu Lintu.

    • Our Sibelius Academy conducting professors after Panula (21 years): Eri Klas (4 years), Leif Segerstam (16 years) and me now (for 6 years).

      (Panula has given master classes all this years and also has his private academy.
      He has shut up on the subject but many of his students are ladies.)

  • Plenty of mediocre male conductors around, some of whom make faces, sweat and fuss. It is only fair to allow women the same opportunities (i.e. to be mediocre facemaking, sweating and fussing conductors). One world famous female pianist has been “conducting” Mozart from the keyboard for decades and makes the most horrendous grimaces in the process with no discernible improvement in her performances as a result.
    The cynic in me thinks that a lot of this push for equality has more to do with selling tickets than anything else.
    Who knows one of them might turn out to be great !!
    A propos a previous article: was Pierre Boulez the last of the White Male Titans?

  • The difficulty and scope of Hoving’s debut programme should be also noted: she’ll be conducting Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Dialoge for two pianos and orchestra and the Bruckner 2. Being successful with these pieces could really give her career a flying start, a bit like the one a young Salonen once got as a last-minute stand-in for the Mahler 3.

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