Women in Musical Leadership: changing the imbalance

by | Oct 27, 2020 | Featured, News

In response to “one of the worst professional gender imbalances in the country,” according to a press release, Canadian operatic innovators Tapestry Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria have partnered to launch the Women in Musical Leadership fellowship. The full-time, paid, three-year fellowship is set to advance the careers of six female-identifying and non-binary music directors and conductors, with a broader mission to expand and improve upon the talent pool in Canadian musical leadership.

Tapestry and POV are also joined by its lead orchestral partner, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, as well as an impressive group of participating organizations that includes Vancouver Opera, Edmonton Opera, Manitoba Opera, and Opera McGill.

“The most common reason that opera companies and professional orchestras cite for not hiring women is that there is a lack of qualified candidates,” says Michael Hidetoshi Mori, Tapestry Opera’s General Director. “This program was designed to change that perception, partnering with multiple organizations across the country for a nationwide impact.”

Women in Musical Leadership

JoAnn Falletta, one of two Career Mentors for the Women in Musical Leadership fellowship. Photo: Fred Stucker.

The Women in Musical Leadership fellowship begins remotely in January 2021 and extends through 2024. Participants will be engaged by POV, Tapestry, the TSO, and participating organizations. Additionally, participants will be paired with a senior female conductor, who will offer mentorship and increasing levels of conducting opportunities. Among those senior mentors is Canadian conductor Rosemary Thomson:

“I remember asking a friend twenty five years ago if she thought that my university would consider taking a woman into the conducting program. Thankfully, times have changed since then, but seeing a woman on the podium is still rare enough to be considered a novelty,” says Thomson. “This fellowship will help to change that perception and show that conducting is not exclusively a male profession. I am thrilled to be involved in this transformative program that directly addresses the gender imbalance at the leadership level in classical music. I love everything about conducting and I can’t wait to share what I have learned with the next generation of conductors.”

Applications for the Women in Musical Leadership fellowship are now open until November 22.

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna is the editor and co-creator of Schmopera. She also writes for The Globe and Mail and Opera Canada. She’s a pianist and vocal coach, and working with singers is how she fell in love with opera.



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