Dutch go weird over Karina

In her first weekend as principal conductor of the Dutch Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Karina Canellakis keeps getting asked by journalists what it feels like to be a woman conductor (she’s the country’s first, apparently).

When one of them needles her, asking why she wears the same clothes as male conductors, she almost loses it.

Yielding the Google-translate headline: ‘Sex is irrelevant on the goat’. Weird.

Read here.


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  • your translation is not correct.
    it says: Gender (Sekse) is irrelevant on the rostrum (bok, which indeed is also a male goat)

  • She is the new principal conductor of the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest. The new principal conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra will be Lorenzo Viotti as of 2020

  • Good for her. She looks serious; perhaps she has some skill and talent. If she does well, they may just start getting used to the idea that men don’t possess anything special that gives them exclusive rights to stand in front of an orchestra and conduct.

    • There are already enough talented conducting women who have proved themselves. It’s high time for the media to move on from the gender question.

  • The orchestra director had already indicated that in the interviews about her new position Canellakis would only tolerate one question about being a woman. Then let’s talk about the dress code of female conductors. Is it there?

    “Do you ask male conductors to do that too?” Canellakis replies somewhat spiky. But aren’t men dressed the same for a hundred years when they stand on the goats? In a dress suit. “Not all of them by the way,” Canellakis says with a somewhat scornful smile. “Your question is totally irrelevant, and no, of course I never talk about it with female fellow conductors. What an absurd idea. The orchestra musicians are all dressed in black, so there is a reason that you adapt to that as a conductor. Be unobtrusive, not distracting from what matters when you’re on the go: the music. You know, I always wear jeans at home. “

    So: the interviewer agreed to the “1 question” rule and then tried to get around it…. with a stupid question. I wonder what he thought a female conductor should wear, since there was clearly some kind of expectation behind that question.

    • “Canellakis would only tolerate one question”: good for her. That’s one too many, but I suppose she still had to be polite.

  • Agreed. I heard her conduct the Mahler 9th with a student orchestra at Arizona State University several years ago. She has that certain something, no doubt. Thrilling, moving and beautiful performance.

  • For Dutch people, female conductors are a surprising discovery, like animals doing entirely unexpected things in a circus. ‘When the end of the world is nigh, I go to Holland, where everything happens 50 years later.’ (Heinrich Heine)

  • The netherlanders call the Conductor’s Podium de bok which, as a matter of fact, means the male goat. No allusion though to Gene Wilder and his beloved Daisy.

  • Players and conductors wear formal dress for evening concerts because their audiences did in former times. That and other things have largely changed.

  • She is a fabulous conductor, and quite beautiful, although, that, is irrelevant. Her conducting attire is quite elegant. She has the figure to carry it off. But, that is irrelevant, too! She is simply a very fine musician and gets an orchestra charged up. They like to perform with her!

  • I got to see her conduct when she was working under van Zueden. She filled in for him on less than a day’s notice for one concert series and everyone loved in the audience. I got the impression the musicians did as well. There was no good way for me to judge other that what I could see from my seat. I just left feeling all felt she had done a very, very good job that evening.

  • her concert in Oxford (with Tiberghien) was superb and the Orchestre de Paris has her twice this season: is it between her and H-C as to who succeeeds pilot Harding?

  • She’s a tough customer. If I were the Dutch press I’d do my homework before an interview (especially when broaching sensitive topics like gender roles).

  • It reminds me of a story that one of the old-timers told me decades ago about Andre Watts’ debut with the Chicago Symphony. One of the ancient troglodytes in the bass section told him “You are a credit to your race!” Watts, who had a Hungarian mother and an African American father, said, “Oh, really? Which one?”

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