Marin Alsop Becomes First Woman to Conduct Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Classic Arts News   Marin Alsop Becomes First Woman to Conduct Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Marin Alsop will today become the first woman to conduct the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a complete program.

Alsop, who is principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony, has made headlines with a number of firsts in her conducting career, including becoming the first female appointed music director of a major American orchestra following her appointment with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra last summer.

Her all-Shostakovich concert with the Concertgebouw, which features the composer's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Macedonian pianist Simon Trpcesk, the Suite from The Bolt, and Jazz Suite No. 2, will be broadcast live over the Internet and available for download.

Like the conservative Vienna Philharmonic, the famed Concertgebouw has been slow in welcoming women to its podium. In a 2005 Associated Press article, Sjoerd van den Berg, spokesman for the Dutch orchestra, said, "It's very simple, in our eyes there were no good female conductors until now."

The last women to conduct the Concertgebouw did so in 1890, 1906 and 1915, but only for individual pieces. (Only three women have conducted the Vienna Philharmonic, including Simone Young's appearance last year; the orchestra appointed its first fulltime female musician only in 2003.)

While the "first woman conductor" label that accompanies Alsop continues to dominate the headlines, the 48-year-old American, who trained as a violinist and studied conducting with Leonard Bernstein, has said in numerous interviews that she hopes her gender will soon cease to be an issue.

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