18 US conductors receive Solti grants (1 is a woman)

18 US conductors receive Solti grants (1 is a woman)


norman lebrecht

August 11, 2022

The Illinois-based Solti Foundation has rolled out its 2022 assistance awards to young US conductors.

The recipients are: Tiffany Chang, Maurice Cohn, Nathaniel Efthimiou, Kevin Fitzgerald, Taichi Fukumara, Chelsea Gallo, Keitaro Harada, Robert Kahn, Farkhad Khudyev, Louis Lohraseb, Francois Lopez-Ferrer, Benjamin Manis, Stephen Mulligan, Tristan Rais-Sherman, Michael Repper, Matthew Straw, William Walker, and Dean Whiteside.

UPDATE: Actually, it’s 2 women. The point’s the same.


  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    These days you cannot say who is a man or woman until they‘ve decided and announced it; an [Adam]’s Apple no longer means anything, as we’re learning.

  • Kaf says:

    This madness — of churning out annually tons of conducting contest winners far greater than the market can bear — has got to stop.

    It’s the equivalent of churning out PhDs in Philosophy to future taxi and uber drivers.

    Except that you might actually want to talk to your uber driver with a PhD in philosophy, but you don’t necessarily want your uber driver air-conducting Beethoven’s 5th while he’s driving you to the airport.

    • Bud H says:

      Crush those dreams, dude.

      • Past Winner says:

        Kaf clearly doesn’t understand the Solti Foundation. A few important points:

        1. The majority of this year’s winners are repeat winners– the foundation seeks to identify top conducting talents in the US and support them over time, so many of the laureates have received/will receive the award a number of times during their development.

        Since their formation in 2008 the Solti Foundation has named a total 65 awardees, or an average of 4/5 new conductors per year. Surely in a country with over 30 full-time orchestras, and at least 50 more reputable per-service orchestras (not to mention a number of opera companies and schools of music) you wouldn’t consider 4/5 new awardees a year as a number “far greater than the market can bear.”

        2. The winners of this award have already proven themselves in the professional and pre-professional spheres– feel free to check out their credentials on the Solti Foundation website. They are assistant and guest conductors of major professional orchestras, and are laureates of internationally recognized conducting programs and music schools. They are not “future taxi drivers,” but rather an elite group of young conductors who have already proven themselves professionally. Feel free to look at past winners and see where they are today.

        3. While there may be some merit to the idea that there are too many conducting contests, that doesn’t invalidate the importance of the established contests that industry leaders use to identify talent. The Solti Foundation is one of these established contests– I can speak from experience when I say that artistic administrators took far more interest in me after I received a Career Assistance Award.

  • Oli says:

    Not that it changes a lot, but just to be fair: 2 are women: Tiffany and Chelsea

  • Christoph says:

    In what other field of endeavor could you hand out professional grants to 18 people and have 17 of them be men? The priesthood, perhaps? The Solti Foundation loses all credibility with an event like this.

    • Bud H says:

      Or maybe the awards were made on merit. Just a thought.

      • Christoph says:

        That excuse doesn’t hold water, I’m afraid. The conducting field has enough women moving up the ranks that there’s no reason this shouldn’t be 50/50, at the least. And what does it say when an institution reinforces a male-dominated order like this? Solti’s Foundation needs to do better.

        • Elizabeth Buccheri says:

          Not many women apply! Of the 39 applications, 4 were women.

          • Nolan says:

            There it is.
            Thank you!

          • Joseph says:

            Hmm. 39 applicants, 4 women, and 35 men. 16 male winners (46% of male applicants), 2 female winners (50% of female applicants). That seems like parity to me. I will not venture to guess why only four women applied.

          • Peter San Diego says:

            Precisely. I wrote a comment with the same content last night, but the SD software unaccountably marked it as spam.

          • Mel Cadman says:

            Not too hard to guess … how about ingrained and persistent discrimination?!

          • Antwerp Smerle says:

            Thanks for that vital datum, Elizabeth. It tells us that the 10.2% of the entrants who were female won 11.1% of the awards.

          • Mel Cadman says:

            Perhaps the ingrained prejudices against women conductors they have already faced, and will continue to face, have acted as serious discouragement to apply!

    • Don says:

      How do you suggest they do that when more women didn’t even apply? Just pick someone randomly on the street and give them an award for fairness? LOL

  • AlMusiker says:

    That’s not the worst part. The worst part is that many of them are true music mediocrities.

  • just saying says:

    There are two conductors on that list, Tiffany and Chelsea…according to the headline, one of them apparently identifies as male?

  • viola628 says:

    How many applicants were men and how many women? If the applicant pool overwhelmingly consisted of men, the Solti Foundation may have done the best it could. Too easy to scapegoat them in order to ignore a potentially more complex reality, as you know.

  • 1of18 says:

    Wow! Thanks for the congratulations everyone! Very normal responses here!

  • Nolan says:

    This is the second SD article that I’ve read today and there is far too much hate in this community.
    More love.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      Concerning SD generally: Cynicism, sarcasm, pessimism, scepticism and exasperation, yes; hate, er, no.

  • Greg Hlatky says:

    Men are 13 times more likely as women to die on the job. When that gender gap is closed is when I’ll worry about the proportion of woman finalists in this kind of glamor show.

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    The question should be if there have been enough women in the candidate pool. Women are a minority in conducting classes, and it is normal that there are less women in programs like this. Have you been to a harp or violin audition lately? Have seen how many women are there in orchestras such as GMJO and EUYO? Women are a majority, but i don’t see anyone questioning it.

    What I would like to know is what criteria is followed to select the winners of this program. I know one of them – a mediocre musician but a genius marketer – who makes the most ridiculous career claims about his career. The most amusing part is that in his home city in the States he has managed to make everyone believe that he is a major music figure here (conducting twice a year a per-service orchestra with underplayed conservatoire students, and paying to be published). I guess that is how the business of music is these days: in order to be successful one doesn’t need to be good, but must must pretend that is doing very well.

  • Joséphine Gobel says:

    Congratulations to those hard working women for their well-deserved reward, and shame on all those entitled privileged men for accepting yet another prize despite lack of any effort just for being born male.

  • Jack says:

    The point being . . . ?

  • MMcGrath says:

    Pray tell, what exactly IS the point? You gave us no facts, just the usual social media inuendo to get a ferocious flapping of the lips.