Building Community23 Apr 2019

Orchestral ensemble wants women to assemble

The first program of its kind in Australia, Perth Symphony Orchestra has invited 20 emerging female conductors to pick up a baton and step up to the podium.

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Alice Farnham with participants and musicians at the workshop Photo Credit: Perth Symphony Orchestra.

Perth Symphony Orchestra wants to see more women on the podium.

Despite participating actively in all forms of professional musicianship, a 2014 survey discovered women make up only five of the top 150 international conductor positions.

It was also revealed by the Association of British Orchestra’s in 2015 that only 5.5 per cent of conductors represented by classical music management companies were women.

To challenge this, innovative ensemble and Minderoo partner Perth Symphony Orchestra (PSO) recently ran a three-day conducting program for young women with strong musical skills.

The program, which was hosted at St Mary’s Anglican Girls School, included several workshops, conducting masterclasses and discussions with experts in the industry. Alice Farnham (conductor and founder of the renowned ‘Women Conductors’ program) and Jessica Gethin (chief conductor of the Perth Symphony Orchestra and inaugural fellow of the Dallas Institute for Women Conductors) provided mentorship to participants.

The conductors worked with the young women to develop their musicianship, leadership and confidence. They also provided participants with advice on the steps necessary to start and run their own ensembles.

Ms Gethin was excited with the potential of continuing the event in future, and the enthusiastic response from the participants.

“I’m thrilled to be an ambassador for this exciting initiative,” Ms Gethin said.

“Being an inaugural fellow for The Dallas Opera’s Institute of Women Conductors gave me the visibility and support on an international level to get to the next step. I hope that in providing a platform for emerging female conductors right here in WA, we can encourage even more diversity and fostering of talent on home grounds.

“Conducting has allowed me to travel the globe making music. I encourage all our female musicians to take this incredible opportunity to learn about what this unique career path can hold for them in the world of music.”

Minderoo Foundation supports Perth Symphony Orchestra as part of its 2019 capacity partnership.

Ella McNeill
by Ella McNeill
Ella McNeill is the Partnership Manager of Minderoo’s Arts and Culture portfolio, overseeing Minderoo’s investments and relationships with these partners. Ella has extensive experience in the not for profit arts sector in Australia and overseas, working across international arts festivals, film, and arts for social change organisations. Ella holds a BA in Arts Management from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
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