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This is a place where our classical hosts, interns and artists can share their stories, viewpoints and point of view on topics related to classical music and the arts in general. Come back to this page often to read the latest and share your comments.

Creating Community and Opportunity for Female Conductors

La Maestra finalists
La Maestra finalists

Much has been reported recently about the limited representation and inequity in the world of classical music.  From musicians of color being represented in orchestras and the repertoire they perform, to women conductors on the podium, equity and inclusion is now becoming part of the discussion in the classical music industry.

Listeners to WXXI Classical are probably familiar with names like JoAnn Falletta, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director Laureate of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center and Artistic Adviser of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, and Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, as well as, chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Ravinia Festival. These two women are among the 9.2% of all orchestras in the U.S. that are directed by women, according to the most recent figures published by the League of American Orchestras, based on information submitted by the orchestras that responded to the League's survey, according tothis report from NPR. In Europe, the number is less than 6%.

In September 2020, La Maestra Competition, a collaboration of the Philharmonie de Paris and the Paris Mozart Orchestra, set out to change that by promoting the talents of female conductors in the very first international conducting competition.  More than 200 female conductors of 51 different nationalities applied, with 12 conductors from four continents sharing the top prizes.  La Maestra showcases candidates of the highest musical and technical caliber following a rigorously managed selection process.

The inaugural La Maestra Competition took place at the Philharmonie de Paris in September 2020 and was an immediate and resounding world-wide success. Marin Alsop, who served as a competition judge, said this of the competition that provides opportunities for women, “All I can say is that men have had hundreds of years to open the door to women and they chose not to. This isn't really about competing. It's about creating community and a support system for these women to grow and become great artists in their own right."  Meet the finalists here.

Here, conductor and La Maestra winner Rebecca Tong talks about the opportunities the competition has created for women conductors.

The Philharmonie de Paris and the Paris Mozart Orchestra are pleased to announce that the second edition of the La Maestra International Competition for Women Conductors will take place from March 3-6, 2022. Online applications for this second edition are open until Friday September 3, 2021.
This competition is open to professional women conductors from all over the world, with no age limit.