Summer Festivals Part III: Prima Donna

I remember an article about female conductors in the German Magazine „Der Stern“ about 12 years ago. It started with a quote by Richard Strauss stating that women were not built to lead an orchestra and concluded with the author asking the then 4 year old son of one of ladies if he wanted to be a conductor as well when he grew up. He pulled a face and answered that this would be a job for girls…!
This year the prestigious Lucerne Festival has chosen „Prima Donna“ as it’s title and announced that they will tackle one of the hot topics of today: to explore the role of women in music! They rightly comment that it remains unduly difficult for women who want to work as conductors or who want to be heard as composers. They have invited no fewer than eleven female conductors to appear on the festival’s podium - amongst the leading ladies are two HELLO STAGE members, both making their debut in Lucerne.

Anu Tali, www.hellostage.com/Anu-Tali, founder of the Nordic Symphony Orchestra and Chief Conductor of the Sarasota Symphony Orchestra is going to lead the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in a Tubin - Chopin - Prokofiev programme on August 21.

Konstantia Gourzi is conducting the Lucerne Festival Academy on the same day. She will also premiere a brand-new orchestral work of her own. Her program juxtaposes this piece with works from the 1950s and ʼ60s by fellow Greek Iannis Xenakis, Danish composer Per Nørgård and György Ligeti. Following her concert she will also take part in a round-table discussion with Festival Executive and Artistic Director Michael Haefliger and journalist Gabriela Kaegi exploring the current situation of female conductors within the industry.

One other extremely exciting debut is happening in Munich. Marie Jacquot, www.hellostage.com/Marie-JACQUOT, recently assisted Maestro Krill Petrenko at the Bavarian State Opera and has now been asked to conduct the world premiere of the Chamber Opera TONGUECAT by Saskia Bladt and Torsten Herrmann at the Munich Opera Festival.

Irene Ggmez-Calado, www.hellostage.com/Irene-Gomez-Calado-Conductor, is currently at the Pärnu Music Festival taking part in the Järvi Academy. But her festival summer already started a little earlier at the Festival Coral de Verao in Lisbon where she took her choir La Chorale Du Luni. For the 5th time choirs from all over Europe and Israel gathered to perform and to compete against each other. Maybe a good thing the festival ended just before the final of the football… it might have been very hard for her wonderful French singers to be in Portugal… by that time Irene’s busy summer schedule already took her to Italy to the Institutione Sinfoince Abruzzese.

Silvia Masselli, www.hellostage.com/Silvia-Massarelli-Conductor, concluded her busy season (concerts in Turin, San Remo and at the Philharmonie in Paris) with an open air concert in beautiful Villa Selle in Verona.

Simone Menezes, www.hellostage.com/simonemenezes, and the Camerata Latino Americana have been invited to perform two concerts at the International Music Festival of Campos do Jordão in São Paulo. The orchestra’s programme included music by Heitor Villa-Lobos, a composer close to Simone’s heart and I guess I am allowed to spill the beans here when I say that this is a combination we are going to talk about in the future again as Simone has a fantastic project coming up!

Looking ahead in the summer rather than back, there is Hildegard Schön conducting works by W.A. Mozart, Heino Eller and Enrico Morricone at the Palazzo Festival in Regensburg in early August.

And Eva Meitner, www.hellostage.com/evameitner, has founded the SommerOrchester Leipzig performing several concerts starting this summer choosing unusual places as their venues like the botanical garden, private flats, artist’s workshops or even a building site. In August you will be able to hear them at the Wasserfest in the Clara-Zetkin-Park as well as on the Market square in Leipzig!

Strictly speaking we are talking Summer festivals here, but a blog post about female conductors on HELLO STAGE would not be complete without mentioning Talia Ilan, Holly Mathieson, and Martha Gardolinska!

Allthough Martha has kept the summer concert free, she is preparing for a lot of great concerts coming up in October and November including a tour to Spain with the Vienna Melange Orchestra and a concert at the Wiener Konzerthaus with the Sinfonia Academica and Alfredo Ovalles.

Holly on the contrary has a busy time in New Zealand conducting the St Matthews Chamber Orchestra, the Opus Orchestra as well as the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in their regular season. But just before she is off to her homeland she is leading the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland in their summer concert.

Talia is definitely not taking it easy this summer with lots of concerts with her Israel Stage Orchestra but I guess it is the Summer 2017 she is particularly looking forward to just having received the invitation for her debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra next June!

The photo shows foto shows Ethel Leginska, the first female to conduct at Carnegie Hall.

Author: Bettina Mehne
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