So you thought an orchestra’s job is to make music…

So you thought an orchestra’s job is to make music…


norman lebrecht

October 25, 2021

Not, apparently, in Melbourne, Australia, where other factors take precedence:

Women in the MSO 2022 Season

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is committed to promoting a culture that celebrates and supports the diversity of its people and community. Our musicians and staff are comprised by more than 50% of people who identify as female. Fittingly our 2022 season incudes 18 Female Featured Soloists, 13 Female Composers and 8 Female Conductors/Directors.


  • Piano Lover says:

    Well well -will there be a ration one -to-one m/f.What about the Gender community?
    What about the disabled people?
    What about the small-versus tall?
    Etc etc
    They will all be disappointed too.
    Another reason not to go to concerts anymore!!!

    • Anthony says:

      Spot-on, Piano Lover. All this is ‘political correctness’ is simply becoming more and more infuriatingly ridiculous. When are we all finally going to grow up and realise what truly matters in life.

      • Piano Lover says:

        You are absolutely right Anthony and music does not seem to be the most important (or at least one of the most )thing for these politicians and “pseudo” music directors including the “conductors” who only want to be put forward.

    • Diane B says:

      And this “who identify as female” so saying woman is not enough ! And anybody who wants to “choose” to be female and pretend so will take the place of a real woman ! How about that for feminism !

      • Piano Lover says:

        Right but F is used commonly and should be replaced by W…but who will agree to this change?In fren the F stands for FEMME while in English it stands for FEMALE..I don’t like that either.

  • Stephen C says:

    Why do you view the two as contradictory to each other?

    • Piano Lover says:

      They are not contradictory to me-the two add to the coming problem as they will be “left aside”.
      I am sure one of these “disabled “or “gender” will come forward complaining he/she has not been chosen due to his/her handicap.
      Time wasted.
      Music must come above these considerations .That is what I meant!

    • Diane B says:

      Life is an immense injustice and that’s what human being can’t stand. A ballerina is contraint by her own body, it is unfair but the art of ballet needs that condition.

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    ‘comprised by’ ????!!!!

  • John Borstlap says:

    It is a signal that staff no longer understands what the music is that orchestras are supposed to present, and that they no longer believe in the relevance of the art form. It shows that they are convinced that there is no place for classical music in the modern world and that their only chance to keep their salary is to surf on the waves of mass hysteria and ignorance. Of course this is enhanced by the covid crisis, which stopped music life from functioning – this shows how it will feel when the world turns its back to classical music altogether.

    It is a bit like staff at a bank who open the coffers and throw the banknotes on the street yelling: it’s nonsense! worthless! meaningless! It’s just pieces of paper!

    • RW2013 says:

      It’s not about music any more.
      btw. Borsty, I bought your book from a bargain bin recently…

      • John Borstlap says:

        Lucky you! I hope it was the 2nd edition by Dover. The first has an awful cover.

        • RW2013 says:

          Scarecrow Press, and yes a very awful cover, but it’s about what’s inside I hope.

        • Diane B says:

          I thought anyway that blind auditions are used to listen and determine the musician’s abilities, so how do they do to make sure of women representation in the orchestra ? Oh, I just relise they are talking about conductors, composers and soloist, artists they can deliberately select !

          • Piano Lover says:

            Easy-the MEN in power to decide have a look at the FEMALE(used intentionally in this context-sorry) before listening to her.Remember all the fuss done over Yuja Wang.In one of her concerts I read that there was a couple sitting in the audience and the lady said to her husband…YOU DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE MUSIC YOU KNOW..meaning her husband was starring at yuha…Ladies like to be pretty:nothing against that!

    • CA says:

      You are so correct. Sadly.

  • Carl Hynes Fux-Hardt says:

    Come for the promise of fun trash talk, stay for the lukewarm reactionary take. Zzzzz.

  • CA says:

    Pathetic writing if ever. They need a new pr person. The talent drain in orchestra managements and staffs these days is severe and quite unbelievable. I read online recently that college degrees are no longer even required to join the staff of a major US orchestra. So, anybody off the street with a pulse, as long as you fit the “culture”.

  • Just a member of the audience says:

    Let’s say an orchestra’s new conductor is Hungarian or Danish And he/she plans to program a lot of familiar and unfamiliar Hungarian or Danish music, often with Hungarian or Danish soloists. It would be understood and probably welcomed.

    But if an orchestra decides to vary the season by emphasizing female or Black composers, suddenly the sky is falling! Tell me this attitude is not misogynist or racist.

    • Wannaplayguitar says:

      Very good point and maybe we are all guilty of an unconscious bias towards our own. However there are enough people on this planet who are constantly searching for new influences, expanding their cultural portfolio to embrace and explore the sounds of the “other”. Even more distressing therefore, is the latest media phenomenon…the shrill accusations of cultural appropriation, another word might be “ghettoisation” of culture. Where do we turn now we are down this particularly ugly cul de sac?

    • Not Woke says:

      As a typical classical music concert attendee, I don’t make my decisions on whether to attend a concert or not based on this wokistic BS.

      I go because of the music.

      End of story.

    • Philip says:

      No, it is not misogynist or racist. There is currently no deafening political clamor for the inclusion of more Danish music in concert programs, so it is fair to presume that the person programming such an obscure Danish work is doing so exclusively on artistic grounds. That cannot be said for an orchestra filling half of its season with works by female composers. That is not to say that those works don’t have artistic merit – but artistic merit clearly isn’t the only motivation for programming them. The context is important.

  • Corno di Caccia says:

    Who cares? This wokist/equality nonsense has gone too far. Personally, I don’t care what gender an orchestra is populated with as long as the standard of music-making is of a high enough standard to warrant the ticket price.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed. The Torino Mandoline Ensemble got into terrible trouble because of following social justice party lines.

    • Gil says:

      About 10 years ago I noticed for a some seconds that the CSO was comprised of mostly older white dudes (I came from LA Phil) I went, huh for maybe 20 seconds and then moved on…

  • CRogers says:

    Call me old fashioned but aren’t blind auditions still be used to determine the musician’s abilities…….?

    • John Borstlap says:

      At various places they have been replaced by deaf auditions, because too many blind auditions were felt to be an unfair signal to the deaf community.

  • George says:

    They tap themselves on the shoulder promoting diversity and give a list of women. Half the world’s population is female, I would not count them as particularly diverse.

  • George says:

    The actual sad thing about this is that they still feel the need to point it out.

  • Paulo says:

    I think the Beijing Symphony Orchestra has too many asians. They should diversify a little

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed. There are stories of orchestral concerts where ALL people, players, conductor, audience, ushers, are Chinese.

      But that is fully justified since that reflects the general constitution of the population.

  • Spare me says:

    What stopped me cold is the word ‘identify.’ And then the part where women ‘comprise’ more than half the admin and orchestra. Is 2022 a ‘Year of Identify- as-a-Woman’ and I missed the announcement? Even a cursory glance at the musician list and one will see women outnumber men in the band to some extraordinary degree, and this is neither good nor bad, who cares! And this will continue … Parents simply are not starting sons out on violin lessons anymore. I get it for conductors, altho I am heartened to see so many wonderful women conductors getting their shot now. In terms of soloists, this is ridiculous. Again, my opinion, but the most wonderful instrumental and piano soloists out there, the most sought after are… Women! They do not need help. They are doing just fine. If we do not get off this woke highway in two years we will have the ‘LGBTQ+`series, the Black composer series, the Female conducting series… good grief, spare me.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      What about the Incels Series, or the Tranny Series or the Club Foot Series. Where’s the real diversity? They’re not serious if they don’t include those series I mentioned. And let’s not be ageist; what about the Over 90 Series?

      Give us a call when you become seri-ous.

  • Spare me says:

    to change (pardon) the most wonderful MLK jr quote: ‘”I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the abilities of their artistry”

    stop this madness.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      There’s one sure way to stop it; boycott any cultural offering which boasts about this BS. I wouldn’t walk next door to see or hear the MSO – they’re busy accompanying pop singers these days.

      Hit their bottom line and watch them change in a heartbeat.

  • C. Squarpialuci says:

    100% of the tuba players in the orchestra are male. That’s clearly a problem.

    • Jared says:

      Ha ha, well said. They should force small women to play the tuba, whether they like it or not, just so there could be “equality”.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The MSO is a total bore. Avoid.

  • BRUCEB says:

    This is literally the worst thing that has ever happened.

  • Max Raimi says:

    There is an old story that Glazounov, when he was head of the St. Petersburg Conservatory was asked how many Jews were studying there. His answer was “We don’t keep count”.

  • Gerald Martin says:

    I’d be more impressed if they didn’t brag about it.