New kid on Chicago block

New kid on Chicago block


norman lebrecht

November 13, 2019

A jury led by Riccardo Muti has selected Lina Gonzalez-Granados as the CSO’s next conducting apprentice, a post named after Sir Georg Solti.

Lina, a Colombian, is a protégée of Marin Alsop in Baltimore and a student of Bramwell Tovey at Boston University.

She says: ‘I want to give special thanks to my Mom who would drive me to piano, and english lessons. Sometimes she would walk me there on a 90 degree weather and killing sun, giving up her dreams so I can fulfill mine. We would have lunch sometimes at our taxi, and she would sit for hours in those lobbys of the piano academy. And my dad too who worked sometimes 32-48hr shifts to pay those lessons and give me a good life. From Cali (Colombia) to the amazing places Im every single week…its the work of my parents and their sacrifice, what has gotten me here so far away from my house.’



  • Flutista says:

    Something has to be said here…  I think that there are marvelous female conductors out there, but this one is certainly not one of them. I watched this female conductor conduct in a rehearsal setting as well as in a concert.  Just like her mentor – Marin Alsop, she lacks some very basic conducting and musicianship skills, but still succeeds to shove her name into every possible roster by posting on social media 27/4.  Ever post is hashtagged #firstlatinaconductor and talks about how she was the first Latina to do this and to do that.  Reminds you of someone? It’s a shame that our profession got to a point where the number of posts and pics on social media (doesn’t matter if fake or real) are the ones that dictate what opportunities you get.

    • Eugene Carlson says:

      Set aside social media for a moment. You think Maestro Muti made a poor choice when it comes to what it takes to be a conductor? Really? Just asking.

      • Robert says:

        Eugene – you are forgetting that Maestro Muti is still part of CSO who is committed to this bizarre agenda that is going on nowadays in the US where you have to choose a female conductor for everything if you want to look good and be on the news. The other 4 candidates were all men. Makes one wonder how decisions are being made here.

        • B1234 says:

          Eugene Carlson, how can you be so naive? Do you really think Muti made that choice by himself? There are so many things happening behind the scenes when such a choice is being made – PR and marketing considerations, the fact that this female conductor is strongly supported by Alsop who pushed her name forward during the application stage and during the audition, the fact that this female conductor is now working closely with the former recipient of this apprenticeship in Philadelphia etc. In three words – PR, connections, a** kissing. Sad indeed, but that’s what we are facing here.

    • Tod Verklärung says:

      I don’t know Lina Gonzalez-Granados work and, will give her the benefit of the doubt about her talent until hearing her. That said, the CSO’s recent history includes only three female conductors: Mälkki, Simone Young, and Marin Alsop. The most regular of these visitors is Alsop. One wonders why.

      With respect to Eugene Carlson’s question as to the factors involved in choosing “guest” conductors who have never appeared with an orchestra, some music directors have been known not to want too much competition, including some of the very greatest.

      • Anson says:

        “some music directors have been known not to want too much competition, including some of the very greatest.”

        I agree with the premise, but let’s be real, a conducting apprentice in Chicago does not pose any “competition,” in any way, for Riccardo Muti’s career.

        • Tod Verklärung says:

          I wasn’t referring to the apprentice, but rather why Marin Alsop appears in Chicago while more highly praised conductors of both sexes do not.

    • MarkOboe80 says:

      It doesn’t matter… she’s a woman (now that is worldwide the cool thing for a conductor) and she is latin-american (that is a plus for “minority visibility” in the US). Talent, even if she didn’t have any (I don’t if she does), would not matter. She “looks” right. Affirmative action is shameful. Let’s hope that is not catch that awful thing from the USA. Only those with real talent, regardless of their sex/race/national origin/sexual orientation, should on the stage with the orchestra.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        AA is merely the substitution of one form of bias and discrimination in favour of another. It’s all about who gets what.

  • G.A says:

    One of Marin Alsop’s Taki clones that can hardly hear anything or conduct…  I guess quality doesn’t matter anymore. So sad it has gotten to the Philadelphia Symphony and now to Chicago too. I guess connections is all you need today!

    • Anson says:

      “I guess connections is all you need today!”

      You need to look back at the history of symphonic music in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s if you don’t think ‘connections’ mattered then, too…

  • violín principal says:

    If this conductor got it, I’m sure my dog can get it too.  And yes – I know her in person and no – I don’t have any problem with female conductors or women in general.  I don’t know what the CSO was thinking, but after seeing her conduct AND talk about music numerous times, there is nothing to be proud or excited about.

  • Musician says:

    Her career won’t last long unless she addresses the enormous tension in her hands. Clutching the baton and grabbing tightly with her other hand will not make for a “tight” ensemble.

    • PeterSD says:

      Are you basing your comment entirely on one photo, or have you seen her conduct, never relaxing her hands? Just wondering.

      • Musician says:

        It’s clear from her PR photo that she has bad hands and is not aware of it. This is like if we saw someone holding their instrument with a death grip, we would know they have major technical and physical problems, which really gets in the way of artistry.

  • Cavalo says:

    She is far from being a “kid”, Norman –  she is 34.  And though there are indeed some young supper talents out there (including female conductors), she certainly doesn’t belong to this category.

  • Bruce says:


    If a male conductor gets a job, it’s because he’s good.
    If a female conductor gets a job, it’s because she’s a woman.


    • Alphonse says:

      Open your eyes, Bruce, and stop deluding yourself. I know that’s not going to happen though. I’m anticipating a super “woke” reply from you, replete with glib emoji faces.

      • Bruce says:

        “Open your eyes, Bruce, and stop deluding yourself. I know that’s not going to happen though.”

        No you don’t. The number of comments saying it’s not female conductors, it’s this conductor, is making me wonder if maybe it really is this conductor.

        “I’m anticipating a super ‘woke’ reply from you, replete with glib emoji faces.”

        Well, I hope you get one 🙂

    • Bolero says:

      Nobody here said anything about female conductors in general. It’s about THIS particular female conductor who is constantly using protections, connections and PR rather than real talent and skills to get everything she is getting including this position. It’s not about gender, it’s about QUALITY. I don’t care if it’s a he or a she who is getting this position, but I would expect them to be very good musicians and talented conductors. From my experience with this conductor, I can guarantee you she wasn’t chosen because of her musicianship and professionalism.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      That may or may not be the actual case, but AA makes it so.

  • Jack says:

    It seems like much progress has been made in breaking the glass ceiling for women conductors. Where I’ve not heard much discussion — on this blog or elsewhere — is the seeming dearth of black conductors. I no longer try to follow the musical universe on this, but does anyone know of a major orchestra with a black conductor? Any names (with orchestras) that anyone out there knows of would be interesting to me. But this seems like an area where I wonder if available talent is being identified and trained for major careers.

    • PeterSD says:

      I don’t know about music directorships of major orchestras, but there have been several black conductors with successful careers — the first three names that come to my mind are James DePreist, Paul Freeman, and John McLaughlin Williams.

      Black orchestral musicians remain notably rare; among principals, exceedingly so; I can think only of Anthony and Demarre McGill.

    • FrauGeigerin says:

      Perhaps black conductors will be the next “cool” thing and every orchestra will want, at least, a black assistant conductor, if music director is not possible. Then there might be conducting programs only for black conductors, blogs such as this one will count how many black conductors there are in every season in every major orchestra, in conducting competitions juries will make sure that there is at least a black person in the final round, Deutsche Grammophon will sign at least two black conductors… and all this regardless of talent! Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, that is EXACTLY what is happening now with women in conducting.

      Talent, skill, artistry etc. should be the only criteria.

      Solutions don’t come from positive discrimination but from encouraging more women and persons from minorities in Europe and the USA to prepare auditions to study conducting, and from encouraging people scouting for talent to make a better job finding the best.

  • Musician says:

    and she wasn’t good enough to be the assistant conductor in Seattle. Glad she is a good fit for Philly and CSO!