Shock News in Berlin……… Philharmonic Invite Female Conductor

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Having watched several of the live TV broadcasts by the Berlin Philharmonic I am on their mailing list each year when the new concert season is announced.

So when I received an electronic brochure last week I spent a little time viewing the 1914 – 15 seasons programme, and a fairly eclectic one it is, which is what one would expect from a conductor like Sir Simon Rattle. Great to see the BP doing a Sibelius symphony cycle, a composer who was often ignored in the past by the BP.

As I flicked from programme to programme on offer I came across a performance of Handel’s opera  “La resurrezione” conducted on three consecutive evenings in October 2014 by French conductor Emmanualle Haim. After I picked myself up off the floor at the shock of a woman being invited to conduct the famous Berlin Philharmonic I went through the rest of the seasons programme and guess what? no female conductors for any other concerts……..not a one, zilch!

I find it very disappointing that Rattle appears to be doing nothing to promote, support or mentor any female conductors. I suppose the only consolation is that the number of female conductors will be one more than the Vienna Philharmonic.

When will the classical music world recognise that we are now in the 21st century……?

 

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19 Responses to Shock News in Berlin……… Philharmonic Invite Female Conductor

  1. Michael Schaffer says:

    “I suppose the only consolation is that the number of female conductors will be one more than the Vienna Philharmonic.”

    Except the WP have already appeared with Simone Young. Sorry to disappoint you.

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    • kindadukish says:

      Thank you for that information about Simone Young. I woiuld be interested to know when this took place as my cynicism suspects it was when the VP were threatened with a massive reduction in state subsidy because of their highly discriminatory policies and invited the “token” woman, but I may be wrong. And why given the number of female music graduates that Vienna produces so few women make it into the orchestra. As for the racism about appointin non-Europeans, well that is another topic on its own.
      Many of ther major European and American orchestras have women in them and it has detracted in no way from the levels of performance, so the tired old arguement put out by the VP that appointing women would change “the sound” of the orchestra does not “hold water”
      It has taken business a long time to wake up to the fact that women make up 50% of the population and can make major contributions to business success, there are still some in the music world who need to drag themselves into the 21st century.

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      • Michael Schaffer says:

        …so the tired old arguement put out by the VP that appointing women would change “the sound” of the orchestra does not “hold water”

        I don’t think so either and yet the WP are one of the very few orchestras remaining who have a well recognizable sound while most orchestras elsewhere now sound all very similar. How do you explain that?

        I don’t remember when Young conducted in Vienna, but I think she is a very competent conductor, so please don’t dismiss her as a “token”.

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  2. kindadukish says:

    Just as a quick follow up, I have had a look at the VP 2014-15 concert season but I can only find details of concerts through to January 2015 and guess how many female conductors have been invited?

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  3. kindadukish says:

    I meant “token” in the sense of a “token gesture” by the VP not in any way detracting from the obvious talent of Simone Young. I have heard the VP twice in Vinenna playing Strauss and Mahler and I do not believe they are any more distinctive than say the Berlin Philharmonic, LSO or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Wonderful orchestra as they are they are equally matched by a good number of orchestras in Europe and America………..and my own local orchestra the Halle under Mark Elder could give them a run for their money.
    I think that as a music lover (of all genres) I find it staggering that the VP will not take their heads out of the sand yet they seem to have no trouble engaging female soloists to play with them, but god forbid any female should want to join the orchestra.
    Just for information the best concert I ever attended was back in the 1980s when I saw the old USSR State Symphony Orchestra under Arvid Yansons do Shostakovitch10………mindblowing stuff.

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    • Michael Schaffer says:

      You probably mean Arvids Jansons, not “Arvid Yansons”. He used to be deputy conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic, not the USSR SSO (which, of course, doesn’t mean that he couldn’t have appeared with the latter). But, like most orchestras, Soviet orchestras usually traveled with their regular conductors. So maybe it was the Leningrad Philharmonic? They actually toured the UK with Arvids’ son Mariss in the mid-80s – maybe it was them who who you saw?

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  4. kindadukish says:

    No, it was the Arvid Yansons (this is the correct spelling) the elder who was standing in for Svetlanov who had been taken ill. The concert was at Sheffield Cit Hall and the complete programme was Shostakovitch Festival Overture, Tchaikovskie Violin Concerto and Shost 10 and it was the USSR State Symphony Orchestra ( I remember the KGB minders marching the orchestra out onto the stage, something I had never seen before nor since).
    At the time the elder Yansons had a very close working relationship with the Halle in Manchester so was well known to the audience.

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    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Well, you know…not everything you find on internet blogs is necessarily true and correct…and even that post spells the name with a J, not a Y, except for in the URL. And both omit the S at the end of his first name.
      Not that it is all that important, it’s just a pet peeve of mine that especially people in the English speaking world often don’t pay attention to how foreign names are actually spelled (and much less how they are actually pronounced). It signals a certain disinterest in the authentic nuances of foreign cultures to me, perhaps a leftover of colonial attitudes.
      The best example is the name “Rachmaninoff” which is usually spelled with a V at the end in Britain. That may be the correct current transliteration of Russian into English, but it completely ignores the fact that Rachmaninoff himself always spelled his name like that when he used the Latin alphabet. He derived the spelling from the at the time standard transliteration into French but used it consistently wherever he went in the West.
      With Jansons, it shouldn’t even be such a big question since the original spelling of his name is in the Latin, not the Cyrillic alphabet anyway.

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  5. kindadukish says:

    Try the second to last paragraph of this article http://www.remusik.org/en/vladislavuspensky/
    – it would seem that there are different spellings of his name and here in the UK the letters J and Y can be interchangeabl with certain spellings.
    But I think we can agree that he was an excellent musician, as is his more famous so.

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    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Well, again…just because someone says something on the internet, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true…in discussions, people misspell my last name all the time, but as far as I am concerned, that doesn’t change how it’s actually spelled. How about your name? Are there multiple correct versions of your name? Do you go and have your passport changed every time somebody misspells your name?
      Again, not that it’s that important, but I find it kind of puzzling that you find it so hard to accept that small correction – all the more so since your “about” says you spent several years one country over from Latvia. Let me guess: you never bothered to learn Lithuanian, it was up to them to speak to you in English, right?

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      • kindadukish says:

        I have obviously rattled your cage a little over this matter but you are quite right that not everything on the internet can be believed. However, I did check several sources for the spelling and the one I have quoted is the most common one. So perhaps it is you that finds it difficult to accept a “small correction” as you put it
        As regards your comment about an “attitude left over of colonial attitudes” would seem to indicate that you perhaps have a little “chip on your shoulder” and if I was being cruel could accuse you of national stereotyping.
        If people want to spell my name differently in various countries I simply accept it as part of the translation and a different alphabet. I am not pecious about it.
        And you have to admit there is a certain arrogance in the fact YOU told ME which orchestra I saw and heard via a mini lecture about the difference between the USSR SSO and the Lenningrad Philharmonic.
        As regards my connection with Lietuva (see, correct spelling) I have been visiting the country for 8 years and have struggled badly with the language. I even enrolled on a 2 week language course at Vilnius University a few years ago and try my best when I visit, but I have to admit it is the most difficult language I have ever tried to learn.
        So what I might consider a condescending and patronising comment about “not being bothered to learn Lithuanian” is not entirely false, and I guess I could have made greater effort to learn more of the language.
        I gather from your attitude and commments that you are not British, perhaps German or Austrian (hows that for stereotyping?)……….South African maybe given the comments about colonialism.
        My purpose when I wrote this blog was to try and highlight the discriminatory practices in the orchestral world regarding women, and it is your perogative to disagree with me. And if so I will enter into debate with you about this, rather than get sidetracked by the pedantry over the spelling of a name.
        Arvid or Arvids, Jansons or Yansons, in the broader perspective of things it doesnt matter all that much as both father and son will be remembered for their superb music making………..and no doubt there will be pedants in the future who ger embroiled in unimportant discussions and lose sight of the music.

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  6. kindadukish says:

    And if you ever visit Vilnius may I recommend a visit to see Lietuvos Nacionalinis Simfoninis Orkestras prefreably under their “old school” conductor Maestro Juazas Domarkas who I saw do a wonderful Bruckner 4 and the unconventional 3rd symphony by Aram Il’yich Khachaturian.
    The LNSO may not be the best orchestra in the world but they play with passion and commitment and I have never been disappointed in any concert I have attended. Lietuva may be a small country but it has a long music tradition e.g. try listening to Miške (In The Forest) by M. K. Čiurlionis. (I hope my spellings are acceptable as I have tried to validate them for you).
    My listening for today will be a bit of late period Ellington plus a dash of Roy Orbison and perhaps the Beach Boys belting out “Sloop John B” in preparation for summer.
    And whatever is on your list today, may you enjoy it as much as I will my choices.

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  7. kindadukish says:

    Just one last comment. I am a regular reader of Norman Lebrechts Slipped Dics blog and I note there are several contributions in various comments columns from someone with the same name as you and whilst I do not know if you are one and the same I note the lecturing / hectoring tone of many of the contributions, not dissimilar to the approach you took with me above.
    If you are one and the same, thank you for visiting my insignificant little blog and contributing to a stimulating discussion.
    We will no doubt resume “hostilities” at some time in the future.
    Viso gero (as they say in Lithuania).

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    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Yep, that’s me. I think I saw an interesting post by you on Norman’s blog, and I clicked on the link. That’s how I landed here. Don’t remember which post that was though.

      Sorry I didn’t mean to ignore your last post. You made some interesting points there that I wanted to respond to, but I got sidetracked by other things.

      As for “lecturing/hectoring”, yes, that sounds like me again, but it’s not really me – I just like to apply the same standards to what people say as the standards they apply to what they talk about. You voice strong opinions about the Wiener Philharmoniker, fine, but if your own views are questioned, or, as in this case, I just make a small detail correction in passing, you suddenly feel like you are the victim now. That kind of passive-aggressive behavior is very common on the net, as in real life, but it still doesn’t make sense to me. Someone who likes to hold strong opinions about others shouldn’t react that feebly when questioned/challenged himself, don’t you agree?

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  8. kindadukish says:

    I do indeed agree, and in my fiirst response to you I thanked you for the information regarding Simone Young and I am always willing to accept “new information” that I have not been aware of.
    I note also that you ignore the challenges I made to you and go back to the personal attack on me e.g. “react feebly when challenged”
    I would prefer to think that I challenged you assertively over the issues you raised and the bizarre logic you apply at times e.g. not everything I find on the internet can be believed, yet you send me a link to an internet article which confirms your spelling of a name is to be believed”………..sorry but I fail to see the logic of your argument.
    As regards the misogyny of the Vienna Philharmonic, I do not appear to be a lone voice over this matter and you do not offer any reasonable defence of their policies (as I have said before the racism is another debate altogether).
    So no, I do not consider myself a victim in relation to your comments as you fail to acknowledge the different spellings of the name in question and that you MAY be wrong.
    You apply false logic to your argument.
    You accuse me of “colonialist” attitudes which is a cracking bit of stereotyping.
    You say that you ” apply the same standards to what people say as the standards they apply to what they talk about”…….but when you are challenged by someone applying the same standards you resort to personal abuse “you never bothered to learn Lithuanian, it was up to them to speak to you in English, right?
    I thought I had made some conciliatory remarks in a couple of my comments but they have obviously fallen on deaf ears, so I will desist from any other comments and we will have to go our separate ways over this issue.
    But do feel free to vsist my little blog at any time, you may well find that I have strong views on other topics as well…………which should provide you with food for thought.

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  9. Michael Schaffer says:

    I would prefer to think that I challenged you assertively over the issues you raised and the bizarre logic you apply at times e.g. not everything I find on the internet can be believed, yet you send me a link to an internet article which confirms your spelling of a name is to be believed”………..sorry but I fail to see the logic of your argument.

    It’s all about context, not random hits. I found that form of the name very consistently on a number of Latvian websites or English websites edited by Latvians, and also this:
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Arv%C4%ABds
    This type of webpage is usually quite reliable as it is typically only edited by people with a very specialized interest. And it fits in the context of the Latvian pages I mentioned. Also note the consistent use of the macron over the i (which I didn’t include so you can say I didn’t get it completely right either) in all those sources. At some point, all that context gives a very consistent and credible picture.
    You are right, we got quite a bit sidetracked here and I accept full responsibility for that. I will try to get back to your points about the actual topic when I have more time later.

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  10. kindadukish says:

    Hmmmmm………..I see, the context in which YOU look up information on the internet is valid but the websites I look at are the “wrong” ones (you must admit people could easily misinterpret that comment and perceive a certain amount of conceit in that statement of yours). I must remember that when I am doing research in the future.
    I could point out also that the various Wiki websites are notoriously unreliable and have been found to be “factually incorrect” on many occasions.
    However, I am happy to accept the “goodwill” in directing me to the Wiktionary and also to accept the spelling of the name (see, I can concede gracefully) Just one thought though, it seems bizarre to me that Arvids Jansons would allow LP records to be put out with the wrong name?
    And I dont even want to get into a discussion about the spelling of Shostakovitches name e.g. Dmitrij Dmitrievič Šostakovič as I dont think I could cope with the excitement!

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