UK's Opera North Launching New Female Conductor Initiative

The initiative is aimed at addressing the gender imbalance within classical music

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Sian Edwards conducts the orchestra of Opera North (Photo Credit: Justin Slee)

Opera North, in Leeds, England is offering a brand-new Female Conductor Traineeship, which the organization hopes will both encourage women to conduct and facilitate their entry into the industry.

The initiative acknowledges that because of various unconscious biases, it is often more difficult for female conductors to bridge the gap between study and the professional world.

Therefore, in partnership with the Harewood Young Artists Fund, the company is offering one applicant the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive training program in Leeds, which they hope will contribute to rectifying this issue.

Over a ten-week period, the selected applicant will receive a range of performance opportunities and mentoring. These include two workshops with the Director of Opera North Garry Walker, where the conductor will work with the company's orchestra. Additionally, the conductor will observe all facets of the rehearsal process for Opera North's productions of Rigoletto, Alcina, and Carmen.

The successful applicant will also undertake plenty of work with Opera North's Education and Outreach departments, including acting as Assistant Conductor for the company's Youth Opera Project performances of Hans Krása’s opera Brundibár in Leeds and Newcastle in January 2022.

Alongside all the opportunities and teaching, the company will provide a stipend of £350 per week and expenses.

"We think that the Female Conductor Traineeship is unique in terms of the breadth of experience that a successful applicant stands to gain, from Opera North’s mainstage opera and orchestral programs to our work in education and the community," said Opera North's Music Director, Garry Walker.

“By offering invaluable one-on-one mentorship from seasoned music staff and guest artists, as well as the support of the wider Opera North family, we hope to encourage more female artists to see opera and orchestral music as a viable career path, and to ensure that our Company and the industry at large is drawing on the widest range of professional conducting talent, now and in the future," he added.

The closing date for applications is 10 AM on Monday, August 9. Interviews for shortlisted candidates will be held in the week commencing Monday, August 30.