For generations the position of conductor at all of the major orchestras across the world have been dominated by men. Slowly but surely that has been changing, there are more and more women who are achieving success in this field and it is time they have gotten the recognition they deserve for their accomplishments. Let us take a look at some of the best female conductors in the world.
You can’t have a list of female conductors without including Marin Alsop. She made music history when she became the first ever woman in history as she became the conductor for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra back in 2007. That was just the start of her accomplishments she is also the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the BBC Proms in 2013. Currently Marin Alsop serves as the Musical Director for the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She also helps with the Women’s Conducting Institute. Here is a look at Marin Alsop.
Sian Edwards has served as the Music Director of the English National Opera and has won outstanding international recognition. Back in 1998 Edwards became the first female to conduct The Knot Garden at the Royal Opera House in London. Sian Edwards is dedicated as an educator and teaches at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she delivers masterclasses for the Dirigentenforum in Germany along with St Andrews University in Scotland.
The Finnish conductor was the first woman to achieve the post of Musical Director for the French music group Ensemble InterContemporain back in 2006. She followed that achievement up in 2009 with her debut at the Berlin Philharmonic. Not to be held back Malkki was also recently appointed the Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. She is highly regarded as an interpreter of contemporary music and will continue to blaze trails.
Simone Young first blazed on to the scene back in 1996 when she was awarded the title “Conductor of the Year” for the opera season in Hamburg. Hailing from Australia, Young has focused her career around opera and is Music Director of Opera Australia. She has received much international acclaim for her skill conducting Wagner and was the first woman to ever record the complete Ring Cycle. Her accolades include the Goethe Medal, the Schleswig-Holstein Brahms Aware, the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettre along with being a member of the Order of Australia. Currently Simone Young serves as the Artistic and Music Director of the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra.
Female orchestra conductors are few and far between and none have achieved the notoriety or pinnacle of success as that of Marin Alsop. A powerful voice in the International scene, Marin Alsop is an idealist who truly believes that music can change lives. She is totally committed to the education and inclusion of all ages in her audiences.
Marin Alsop has been the music director of the Baltimore Symphony since 2007 and her tenure there has been extended twice and she will continue to be the music director until 2021. Alsop has been bold in her approach to increase attendance and reach new audiences. To encourage the love of music in children Alsop launched OrchKids back in 2008. OrchKids is a community outreach program that provides instruments, education, hot meals and it mentors the city’s neediest community. Not only does she work with children, the BSO Academy allows for adult musicians to play along with members of the orchestra.
Not only is Alsop music director at BSO she is also the principal conductor and music director for the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra since 2013. She is responsible for their creative programming, recording contracts and the outreach programs in that community. She has lead the orchestra over three different European tours that have included the BBC Proms, Lucerne festival along with other concerts in Berlin, Paris and Vienna.
A Student of Bernstein
Marin Alsop is one of the best known pupils of musical genius Leonard Bernstein and will be central to the 100th anniversary celebrations happening next year. She will be opening the LSO’s tribute to Bernstein and will conduct performances of the Bernstein Mass at the Ravinia Festival. Alsop was appointed the Musical curator for the Ravinia Festival for 2018 and 2019. She is also the Artist in Residence for the Southbank Center and will conduct the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment throughout a UK tour.
Education and Accolades
Her extensive career has brought many Grammy and Gramophone awards and along with the many awards and the academic recognition Marin Alsop is the only conductor to ever receive the MacArthur Fellowship. She is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music and Royal Philharmonic Society. She has also been appointed Director of Graduate Conducting from the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute. She is an alumnus of Julliard School of Music and Yale University gave her an honorary doctorate earlier this year. She launched her conducting career back in 1989 after winning the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition and she is the first ever woman to have been awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize from the Tanglewood Music.
Marin Alsop has been a trailblazer in the music industry since the start of her career and has paved the way for many female conductors coming behind her.