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THE SCOOP | Tapestry Opera Launches Program Addressing Gender Imbalance In Classical Music

By Michael Vincent on November 10, 2020

Rosemary Thomson (Photo: Glenna Turnbull)
Rosemary Thomson (Photo: Glenna Turnbull)

Toronto’s Tapestry Opera has partnered with organizations across Canada to launch an innovative national conducting fellowship for female-identifying musicians.

The Women in Musical Leadership program will seek to address professional gender imbalances affecting classical music and opera, particularly in music directors and conductors working across the country.

This program will serve a total of six female-identifying and non-binary conductors with full-time professional fellowships spanning over three years.

“In my 30-year career in classical music, it has always been evident that our greatest talent is evenly split across gender lines — it remains on us to make opportunities for this talent to grow, mature and be seen and recognized in leadership roles, said Tapestry Opera’s Michael Mori. […] “The most common reason that opera companies and professional orchestras cite for not hiring women is that there is a lack of qualified candidates.”

According to statistics cited by Tapestry Opera, there is currently only one Canadian-born female-identifying conductor working among the 12 largest Canadian symphony orchestras in Canada. The 2018 / 2019 season saw only 6.2% of conductors in the largest six Canadian opera companies held by women. Despite a large talent pool, there are currently no female music directors in the top 10 Canadian opera companies.

Placements will begin in July 2021 and run across three cohorts over three years. Musicians will be engaged by over a dozen participating organizations across Canada, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, with mentorship from conductor Gustavo Gimeno. Participants will also partner with a senior female conductor, who will help guide them through their assigned conducting opportunities, with increasing responsibilities as the fellowship progresses.

“I am thrilled to be involved in this transformative program that directly addresses the gender imbalance at the leadership level in classical music,” said Canadian conductor Rosemary Thomson, who will be joining the program as a mentor. “I love everything about conducting, and I can’t wait to share what I have learned with the next generation of conductors.”

Applications are now open until November 22 for the first of three cohorts, starting a year apart and consisting of two fellows each. Interested parties can learn more and apply here.


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Michael Vincent
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