London Philharmonic seeks minority conductors

London Philharmonic seeks minority conductors


norman lebrecht

September 21, 2022

Press release:
The London Philharmonic Orchestra today opens applications for its new Conducting Fellowship, a scheme specifically created to promote diversity and inclusivity in the classical music industry by developing two outstanding early-career conductors from backgrounds currently under-represented in the profession.

The Orchestra wants to develop the world-class conductors of the future and believes that talent is indiscriminate, yet it is clear that people from certain backgrounds and communities continue to be under-represented in the orchestral sector. Applicants are asked to self-identify their eligibility which may include, but is not limited to, gender identity, race, socio-economic background, neurodiversity, disability and special educational needs.

Elena Dubinets, Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra says: “This is a groundbreaking programme offering immediate training and conducting opportunities at our phenomenal orchestra to the emerging artists who might have been excluded from regular orchestral practices. We are delighted to offer two positions guided by our Principal Conductor Edward Gardner that will undoubtedly lead to major breakthroughs in our industry.”

Edward Gardner, Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (pictured), says: “I am thrilled that we at the LPO are taking the work of improving diversity and inclusion in our profession seriously and inaugurating this new scheme. It is vital as, fundamentally, music is for everyone. I am honoured to be involved in guiding the two successful candidates as I am passionate about developing the next generation of talented conductors. I can’t wait to work with the two Fellows over the 23/24 season and make music together.”



  • J says:

    i just can’t anymore. how is this even legal?

    • Tamino says:

      Indeed. And it’s the wrong approach altogether. Personal professional development in classical music starts in childhood years and the formative adolescence, when you usually take the decision to turn this into a professional path and then pursue it.

      It’s not rocket science. If one wants to change the composition of the sample group for tis non-musical parameters (gender, genetic type, social class, financial background) that usually and traditionally decides for such a professional path, then one must influence it at the beginning of the chain of events.

      Not in the middle – as here when choosing conductors for top orchestras. That is just (reverse) discrimination and suppressing excellence and greatness.

      So London Phil, go into music schools and foster young talent that needs special support. And leave the choosing of professional conductors later in life to professional parameters alone.

      • Helen says:

        “London Phil, go into music schools and foster young talent that needs special support.”

        Most, if not all, UK professional orchestras have been running “outreach” programmes for some time. I suspect that these programmes have generated interest among the “wrong” minorities, so more drastic discrimination has become necessary.

  • J says:

    part two. did leontyne price complain? the bloated budgets of DIE from orchestras to universities will be ruinous. how about pay the LPO more than 30k a year?

  • J.B.G says:

    For all those alarmed by this, please don’t be.
    Engineered outcomes do provide outcomes – but they are never the ones intended! Sit back and enjoy the unique comedy that only hand-wringing middle-class pseudo-intellectuals are capable of providing!

    • SHKSPRTH says:

      What the music performance world now has is an engineered outcome that I have recently discovered excludes some amazing musicians. Our loss. At age 75 it has taken me awhile to discover what we’ve been missing.

  • J says:

    and part three: ok i re read and stopped short when i hit the word neurodiversity,
    can this be explained to me? i am actually curious. i am lost here.

    • Rustier spoon says:

      I believe that identifying G major as green in my synaesthetic state classifies me as neuro diverse. Well that’s interesting (& useful?) in this context!

    • Sam's Hot Car Lot says:

      It mainly refers to people on the autism spectrum.

      • J says:

        thank you! idid look it up from harvard and the lists of what one can’t say or do is something else. look i’m all for inclusivity but there are limits. let’s say merit. and while we are on it, marin, who is one of the most sarcastic funny women i have ever worked with. good luck marin. she will need a personality bypass operation to survive this all.

    • Stephen Lawrence says:

      I should imagine probably every major conductor/composer/soloist in history has been Neurodiverse – it’s just that in those days the term (or more importantly, the concept) didn’t exist…

  • Rustier spoon says:

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

  • Adrienne says:

    “people from certain backgrounds and communities”

    Why don’t they at least have the grace to say what they really mean? Black people will be shoe-horned in regardless of talent when it is clear that paler people of E Asian origin need no assistance whatsoever.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Excellent idea, well done LPO and hopefully other companies will jump in too.

  • Achim Mentzel says:

    Atleast they are fair and tell that they are looking not for the best conductor but for the most discriminated diverse one.

  • Tim Walton says:

    WOKE Gobledogook

  • May says:

    Talented conductors are already a minority group.

  • RW2013 says:

    Isn’t it enough that women are allowed to conduct?

  • Peter X says:

    “….We are delighted to offer two positions… ”
    So, stop whining.
    The world wil continue to turn.

  • Robert Remosson says:

    has anyone noticed the words “qualified” and “talented “ are nowhere to be seen. color, minority, persuasion prefered. The public suffers. The players definitely suffer. And above all the composers and culture suffers. Shame!

    • Guest says:

      From the full LPO description: “Applicants must be able to demonstrate extensive background and training in orchestral conducting, and be able to demonstrate ability in developing and conducting programmes, excellent musicianship and communication skills.”

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    Has there ever been a conductor (other than Karajan, who chose to) would was neurodivergently unable to look at musicians?

  • La plus belle voix says:

    Not been funni lyke but as a kid i had paino lesson’s at my nans shoud i aply ?

  • Priti Paintal, Composer and Chair of Diversity Arts Network says:

    Is this because their funding is in jeopardy from the Arts Council? Typical all these years they have done very little and now because the pressure is on they are bolting this on – a cosmetic addition if there ever was one! It won’t actually deal with inclusion, diversity and equity from within and won’t change anything from inside their costly managemen heavy organisation.

  • Bone says:

    This will make the world a better place.
    And the orchestra will sound more diverse. Win/win!!!

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    What a load of old nonsense. When I first read this post- I couldn’t believe my eyes- thought I was hallucinating. There are plenty of mediocre white conductors- of which I’m one- who would be up to the job specifications. Deary, Dreary me- life goes on.

  • MMcGrath says:

    Nothing against expanding the pool of people who apply, and actively encouraging non-traditional applicants.

    However, I guess the old adage “May the best person win” is no longer applicable. Screwed up world.

    I’m doubly angry at people who play along, talk up this kind of discriminatory hiring, and make as if they have discovered the wheel.

    I would not want to be a 30-year old heterosexual university graduate male today who is white and middle class. Wrongs of the past don’t make wrongs of the present any less reprehensible.

    Bring a class-action suit against the LSO or discriminatory hiring practices – all the way to the supreme court of the UK if necessary.

    • James Minch says:

      ‘the old adage “May the best person win”’

      Person? The expression is ‘may the best man win’. You’re pandering to the over-sensitive.

      • MMcGrath says:

        Yes, “person.” Perhaps I should have explained that I meant MEN and WOMEN. Full stop. You perhaps thought I’d gone further? Nope. Cheers.

  • Paul Barte says:

    It is no laughing matter that white males are discrimated against is such blatant ways. Imagine BEING one of that group and seeing so many doors closed these days.

  • Peter says:

    Well, I can’t conduct, am quite old, and prefer typing into a computer than dealing with people (that’s why I’m here…) which sounds a bit neuro-atypical.
    So would I be a strong candidate ?

  • TNVol says:

    This is an example of why you should NEVER leave money in your will to a non-profit organization.

    They are either run by a board of non-elected misfit commies, or susceptible to future take over by non-elected misfit commies.

  • Hilary says:

    A bottom up approach is a more mature approach to address these issues . Talent in music is nurtured from a much earlier stage than this. For instance , some state schools don’t have singing assemblies or peripatetic instrumental lessons .

  • Freewheeler says:

    Neurodiversity? “I want the job because I’m bleedin’ crazy.”

  • Alan Glick says:

    The end result of this nonsense is that all blacks in orchestras will now be under suspicion of having received their jobs only by dint of their skin color. But wokesters will feel self-satisfied even though the people they claim to be helping will suffer. Sound familiar?

    • Adrienne says:

      I hate introducing comments with “as a black person”, but here goes.

      Your comment covers around half of my objection to this. The other half is that it is just plain patronising.

      And another thing, while I’m here. The number of black people in current TV adverts is hugely disproportionate. I sense that people who are normally unconcerned about such things are becoming irritated. This is bad for all concerned.

    • Maria says:

      This is not aimed at blacks! This is not America. Diversity means far more than the colour of one’s skin in the UK.

      • Adrienne says:

        Sorry, but in reality, I think it is.

        Orchestras are already becoming diverse, but not in a “black” way. That is regarded by organisations such as the Arts Council and a few people here as a big problem.

  • Diverse Derek says:

    I dare them to put the panel _behind a screen_ and have EVERY SINGLE APPLICANT regardless of background (thus eliminating all bias) simply conduct something mildly challenging – I’d say “quando m’en vo”, “o mio babbino” or “vissi d’arte” and go from there.
    That’d be a good first round, rather than “who is diverse enough”.

    How about we find some conductors who can actually do the job?

  • Maria says:

    Ed Gardiner is a great guy, fine musician and a very enterprising conductor andvteacher of conducting in England, and based in London. I wish this every success as the whole thing needed shaking up in the whole of the UK but particularly in London. Talented people are being looked over in this profession, and it has to stop with the top f the profession. Really want this to succeed.

    • Mark Mortimer says:

      Yes Maria. Ed Gardner is white, middle class & went to Eton College & Kings’ Cambridge. So I imagine the LPO is now looking for an ethnically ‘diverse’, comprehensive educated & grew up on a council estate, sytle candidate as a desperate balancing act of ‘inclusion’. I’m all for inclusion but the comparisons are…. um… interesting at least if not laughable, depending on your point of view.

  • Tony says:

    I’m curious to know what the musicians or selection board make of this. No one yet has raised the point that this statement –

    “artists who might have been excluded from regular orchestral practices.”

    – clearly implies that there is racism at work. Musicians deserve better than this fatuous assumption.

  • Save the MET says:

    They call this “diversity casting” at the BBC and ITV. It makes historical drama laughable when various ethnicities are cast in parts that have no historical bearing. Biden did it with his cabinet rather than hiring the best and brightest and has stumbled until many of them left as they were in over their heads. It used to be which conductor can put the most butts in seats. Casting by ethnicity does not guarantee that and classical music fails when orchestras fail.

  • Karden says:

    Notice how so-called pro-diversity often doesn’t seem to apply to non-black, non-white, non-Latino people who are, uh, yellow (since Indian-Pakistani folks aren’t considered yellow)/Asian. How about non-GLBT yellow/Asian people? Certainly how about non-leftwing, non-GLBT yellow/Asian people? Do they count?

  • Jobim75 says:

    They’re in, you’re out…..or vice versa, depends of the time line…

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    Caucasian non-British males, please refrain from applying.

    • Guest says:

      Well done for acknowledging that “Caucasian males” are over-represented in the conducting profession; but no points for misinterpreting “UK-based” as “British”, and for taking “will be prioritized” to mean “no others need apply”.

    • Thomas M. says:

      There are ENOUGH Caucasian males in prestigious positions already, including Maestro Gardner himself. Who, I might add, is also NOT a conductor who putts bums in seats.