Women in Music

Women Out In Front!

Dear readers of the male persuasion: please forgive me, but today I just have to write a bit about the rise of women in music, inspired by something amazing I read in the New York Times. Later I’ll write more on this theme, because although it may seem in this year of 2016, that women and men are pretty much on the same footing in the (classical) music business, I’m not so sure we are, truly.

Either way, I think it’s good to look back and see how far we've come, in order to not take things granted. Whenever I mention this subject, or certain historical figures, young players are often taken aback—hasn’t it always been the way it is now? The answer is, alas, a firm NO!

In any case, today I just have to mention a performance of a remarkable and entertaining work for soprano and small orchestra by Gyorgy Ligeti, called “Mysteries of the Macabre”, which was simultaneously sung AND conducted by the American soprano Barbara Hannigan with the Göteborgs Sinfoniker of Sweden. As the article mentions, moving from singing soprano to conducting is fairly rare, but to take both roles at the same time is—was—unheard of. Watch the video here (the work is a real stunner: modern, dramatic, but also hilariously crazy) to see it for your own eyes. 

Oddly enough, after watching this almost operatic rendition (what an outfit!!), I’m now having a hard time even imagining a standard performance, with a soprano soloist and a conductor! I’m crossing my fingers that either the work or the soprano/conductor appear on our orchestra programming; if it happens, you’ll be the first to know!

Barbara Hannigan singing and conducting Ligeti's "Mysteries of the Macabre"

Barbara Hannigan singing and conducting Ligeti's "Mysteries of the Macabre"