La Maestra ends with a whimper

La Maestra ends with a whimper


norman lebrecht

September 21, 2020

The superhyped First­ International Competition of Women Conductors. ‘La maestra’, was won in Paris by Rebecca Tong of Indoniesia.

Tong, 35, is resident conductor of the Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra.

She is signed to the AskonasHolt agency.

Media coverage was diminished by Covid.

Four of the original contestants were unable to attend.



  • Conductor says:

    Attended all rounds live. 1/4 of the competitors were Alsop’s students. The right people were let into semi-final. But Lina had no place in the finals. She was the worst out of the 6 conductresses who got into the semifinals. The Chinese contestant, Jiajing Lai, got robbed. She was the only true musician in the competition. Guess the jury wanted an international trio of finalists, for good PR, and too much Asians is not good for image. Stephanie had good initial rounds, but totally broke down in the finals. Lina was a shame to watch. Rebecca was good in all rounds. Nothing special, but one of the best contestants in the competition.

    I saw more female conductors in 4 days than I ever did until now, and now I’m certain there’s no quality differences between sexes. Give it a couple decades, and we will finally have legit great female conductors to replace all the Mirgas, Alahondras, Canellakises, and other Hannigans!

    • nowisthetime says:

      Debussy by Lina was shameful. Though I agree “there is no quality differences between sexes”, you will never have enough legit great female conductors if you don’t start with the Mirgas, Alahondras, Canellakises, and other Hannigans NOW.

    • V. Lind says:

      “Conductress” — I have not heard that word since live people used to come around and collect your tickets on the buses.

    • La Finestra says:

      So true @Conductor… Marin Alsop (who also took an active part in the competition’s jury) pushed all of her Taki fellows up into the semi-finals. Then pushed her oldest fellows Lina – 34 & Rebecca – 36 (who would have had no chance of being chosen to participate in any of the real conducting competitions out there, not to mention winning them) into to Finals to compete against a 20 years old inexperienced conductor.
      Rebecca was fine, not anything spectacular, but oh gosh… Lina is a horrible conductor. She lacks some basic conducting skills and basic understanding of the music she conducts. It was really hard to watch.
      As sad as it is though, this is how Alsop is controlling the whole “female conductor” business and not just through this competition. She will only let her clones climb up the ladder, while preventing authentic, skilled good female conductors getting crucial opportunities or even get near them. It is truly shameful and disgusting to see how some of those female conductors get thrown out of the profession because of the Alsop agenda. It’s time for this to stop and time for those fake initiatives which were created by Marin Alsop and for the sake of Marin Alsop “the great conductor and mentor” and “philanthropist for female conductors” to disappear.

    • JS says:

      I disagree, Lina shouldn’t have even go through the first round, Egmont was horrible to watch, she said nothing meaningful in half an hour. After she got called, I realized all comments here about that contest being a pathetic charade were true, didn’t even bother to watch it anymore.

      But I fell again and saw the streaming of the semifinals after knowing this girl got third place to see if there was something I misjudged, and nope, it was again, awful, I would die of laughter if a conductor starts to wave it’s hands in such a way in the beginning of Schumann cello concerto in front of me, it was so obvious that she was being pushed forward inside the jury. Even Gladysmarli, with such communicational issues deserved more to be in the finals, and that she took home the orchestra price, says it all. There were really talented girls, Marie (not that she needed that competition to prove her place), Holly, Jiajing, but all them kicked out so unfairly early, it’s really doing no good to clean and raise the female talent in a man centered society.
      Peace out!

    • Another orchestral musician says:

      Agree. In my opinion the Venezuelan conductor did so much better than Lina González-Granados, for example. At least she ended up winning the Orchestra prize, which says quite a lot! It really looked like they were happy to work with her.

  • RW2013 says:

    A true Chamber of Horrors
    in the tradition of the “Mirgas, Alahondras, Canellakises, and other Hannigans!”

  • Lord Bus Stop says:

    I am now very interested in hearing an orchestra conducted by Rebecca Tong perform Debussy. The music of Indonesia is astonishing, and Debussy knew it. Great news for a Monday.

  • Vittorio says:

    I wonder why Marin Alsop did not leave the Jury when 2 of the finalists were her students…

  • BP says:

    The criticism of Marin Alsop is unwarranted and unfair : she was NOT part of the planned jury, she only got included a few weeks before the competition as several members had dropped out and she happened to be in Paris at that time, and has obvious legitimacy on the issue (and plenty of integrity I might add). I agree Gonzalez-Granados wasn’t great, but don’t put it all on Alsop, she was also awarded the ECHO prize ahead of Tong and Childress for some reason.

    • BS says:

      oh… she happened to be in Paris – what a coincidence! Then she somehow agreed to serve on the jury though 1/4 of the contestants were her own students (did you say integrity????). Then, by coincidence, they all got to the semi-finals. And then, once again – by total coincidence, two of them get to the finals – one that can hardly conduct, doesn’t know or hear anything (Gonzalez-Granados) and another one which is nothing more than an ok conductor (Tong). How convenient! But yeah – it was all a big coincidence (;
      And btw – it was clear that this competition is owned by Alsop all along. I knew it as soon as they started advertising it with Valentina Peleggi (another one of Alsop’s students) as the head of jury. She ended up getting swapped with Ewa Bogusz-Moore only recently after she got a gig with a small unknown US orchestra.

      • BP says:

        Alsop had no part in the selection process of the twelve candidates (though of course she would have encouraged her students to apply, and of course some would be chosen as there are so many of them). The competition was set to take place in March with Deborah Borda as jury president (Valentina Peleggi was to be one of the members but was never slated to be president). It was delayed to September because of the virus and the jury was overhauled. And yes, Alsop “happened” to be in Paris because she was conducting there the week prior. Facts matter, sorry.

        • BS says:

          It’s obvious you didn’t read my comment carefully. I never said that Paleggi was suppose to be the competition’s president. The competition was advertised about a year ago with Paleggi’s name as the head of jury for the eliminatory phase. As such, she was also involved in the process of choosing the participants for the competition which means the whole process was very much effected by Marin Alsop and her interests.
          You also seem to not understand the main issue here (I honestly think you choose not to)… no one cares if Marin happened to be in Paris a week before the competition or not. That’s not the point. The point is that she agreed to be on the jury while she knew 1/4 of the competiton’s participants are her own students and made sure they get to the finals even though they weren’t worthy of it. She even awarded them the prizes herself!
          So I agree @BP – facts matter and in this case they all look very bad for Marin’s credibility and integrity.

    • JS says:

      Oh the ECHO prize you say! Isn’t that the one that Ewa Bogus-Moore, head of the jury is also a member of? Sure! that can’t be biased.

  • Another orchestral musician says:

    It seemed like in order to get through all the rounds you had to be one of Marin Alsop’s students. It was way, waaay too obvious.