Conducting Her Destiny: The Making of a Maestra

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Christina Williamson Elkins (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Welborn Young

Abstract: Women are relative newcomers to the traditionally male profession of conducting. To acquire a professional position, they first have to overcome lingering stereotypical attitudes about their gender, attitudes that only clutter and complicate the challenges normally faced on the road to any musical podium. As a result, only a few women have achieved significant positions in the field of conducting. Why, in an enlightened age, when numerous gender barriers have been overcome, do female conductors still struggle to reach the 'top' of the profession? The information provided in this document examines the emergence of women in music and the challenges they faced when entering the profession of conducting. This document will not include a detailed history of women in all aspects of music, only those which propelled women forward in their status, such as important women patrons, ensemble singers, and conductors. Women conductors in this document include: Margaret Hillis, Sarah Caldwell, Antonia Brico, Judith Somogi, Ethel Leginska, and Gena Branscombe. Each of these women was a first in their field: the first to conduct a major symphony, first to conduct an American orchestra, and first to conduct a major opera. The status of women in society has changed dramatically over the last century, but changing attitudes in professional organizations have been slow to develop. Society has accepted women as being capable of navigating space and administering in government rather than capable of leading a professional orchestra, choral ensemble, or operatic production. Changing attitudes, coupled with the work pioneered in the last twenty years by conductors such as JoAnn Falletta, Marin Alsop, and Alice Parker, have encouraged and enabled women to pursue conducting and enter the profession. As stated in a journal by Alan Rich, there are many reasons for not pursuing a career in music, but by today's standards, being female is no longer one of them.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Women conductors, stereotypes
Women conductors (Music)
Sexism in music

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