Out of the Shadows

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Sage Gateshead and Royal Philharmonic Society establish major new partnership to advance gender equality in conducting

Only one British orchestra has a female principal conductor. At last count, only six women conductors have titled roles amid the several hundred conductors on the staff of professional British orchestras - and only 22 of the 371 conductors represented by British agents were female. That’s 5.5%.

In part, to help remedy this imbalance Alice Farnham founded the Women Conductors programme in 2014 since when it has helped over 500 women try their hand and further their skills at conducting, in a range of courses at varying levels nationwide. Since 2016, the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) has run the initiative, now called the RPS Women Conductors programme, and it is about to enter an exciting new phase.

Royal Northern Sinfonia (the orchestra of Sage Gateshead and the UK's only full-time chamber orchestra), and the RPS are collaborating on a multi-year partnership set to bring the next big female conducting talents to the North East and allow the conductors from the project podium time with the Royal Northern Sinfonia. A pilot on 14 June 2021 featured conductors Olivia Clarke, Helen Harrison, Charlotte Corduroy and Hannah Schneider. Applications for further opportunities, from January 2022, will be welcomed by the RPS this Autumn. Follow @RoyalPhilSoc for updates.

Alice Farnham said: “The climate has changed so much since I co-founded Women Conductors in 2014, and many talented and confident female conductors are emerging.  This is a chance for them to gain not only essential podium time with a professional orchestra, but to allow them to take risks and be adventurous in their music making.  We are looking forward to exploring the relationship between conductor and orchestra, yet in a safe and constructive environment for players and conductors alike.” 

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