Despite being told by a range of industry professionals that motherhood was simply incompatible with a high-level conducting schedule, conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya recently spoke with Good Morning America about breaking that stereotype.
As the Music Director of the Chicago Opera Theater, she conducted the opening of Mark Adamo's opera "Becoming Santa Claus" on December 11, 2021, and gave birth five days later. Only three days after that, she returned to the podium to conduct the closing of the opera.
Yankovskaya, whose 2022 engagements include concerts with the Chicago Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, says she has always been baffled by comments that suggested conducting was too physical a discipline for women to succeed in.
Born in Russia, she moved to America as a child, arriving in 1986. While female conductors like Marin Alsop have gained considerable ground since that time, there is still a long way to go for equal representation.
Yankovskaya took to Twitter to emit her frustrations about the view of motherhood and
"When I had my first kid, people told me that no one wanted to see a pregnant conductor, that I couldn’t possibly conduct while caring for a newborn, and that being a mother and being a conductor are incompatible," Yankovskaya said. "I forged ahead with virtually no U.S. role models in this endeavor."
"I hope we are beginning to let go of this ridiculous, sexist stigma," she added. "Pregnancy and childbirth are personal matters and do not impair a woman’s ability to judge for herself whether she is in a position to perform."