Women on the Podium
Why are female conductors still quite a rarity? Women have stepped into this male-dominated sphere for many decades now. A playlist curated by Corina Kolbe.Read more…
Even in the 21st century women's emancipation seems to stop right in front of the doors of many concert halls and opera theaters. While it is normal to see female musicians, leading an orchestra still seems to be a man's job. The truth is that women have conducted orchestras for decades now, but only in recent years they have enjoyed a broader public interest.
One of the internationally well-known female conductors is the Australian Simone Young who was principal conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway and at the Opera of Sydney as well as general manager of the Hamburg State Opera and the city's general music director. Back in 1993 she was the first woman to lead a performance at the Vienna State Opera, and 2005 she was the first female conductor on the podium of the Vienna Philharmonic. In our playlist you can listen to the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra performing Bruckner and Wagner under Young's baton – a repertory often associated with "masculinity".
Women who successfully enter a man's world prefer showing her skills instead of commenting on ridiculous gender stereotypes. Young, her Lithuanian colleague Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla who has been music director of the Birmingham City Symphony Orchestra from 2016, or the American Marin Alsop, who holds the same position in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, are widely recognized. Xian Zhang, who moved from China to the United States at the age of 25, became the first woman to conduct the Staatskapelle Dresden at the Semperoper in 2008. One year later the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi appointed her as its next music director.
The French conductor Emmanuelle Haïm and the Austrian Michi Gaigg are experts in Baroque repertoire. Other colleagues like Susanna Mälkki, principal conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic in her home country Finland or Konstantia Gourzi, a conductor and composer from Greece, are specialized in contemporary music. And the versatile Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan surprises the audience when she performs as a singer and a conductor at the same time. Please enjoy our choice!