The Dallas Opera has founded the Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera specifically for music professionals 40 and younger. Out of 103 applicants, six women were selected to be involved in the inaugural season of the program in November. This unique opportunity allows participants to conduct the Dallas Opera Orchestra and attend master classes, while creating a supportive, career building network.
The establishment of the institute is in response to the absence of women conductors in professional orchestras. Results from a 2013 poll by the League of American Orchestras found only 20% of US symphonies have women conductors, which also includes assistant and substitute conductors and many from small-budget and youth orchestras. Out of the 22 highest budget orchestras in the country, only one has a principle woman conductor, the first female to ever lead a major symphony, Marin Alsop. (Source)
Alsop, a Julliard alum and recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Conductor Award, was appointed to lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2007. After becoming musical director for BSO, Alsop launched OrchKids, a music program “…designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City neighborhoods,” which currently works with over 800 students. In 2013, she made history by being the first woman in 118 years to lead the Last Night of the Proms in Britain. Since Alsop’s performance at the Proms, several strides have been made to expose more young women to the art of conducting, including a private course in Britain specifically for teen girls.
Jessica Gethin, one of the six Dallas Opera program participants, said this experience is an “invaluable” opportunity for herself and future attendants. “I am looking forward to developing my technical skills and broadening my repertoire knowledge in a uniquely supportive environment and earning my place as an alumna in this brilliant and vital program, watching it grow and nurture the careers of many female conductors from around the world.” (Source)