“Imagine how the conducting profession might look today if Herbert von Karajan had been a woman,” writes Jessica Duchen in Friday’s (1/22) Independent (London). “Female conductors could have dominated podiums the world over, with a Herbertina to set the example. This isn’t so, of course—but that doesn’t mean it might not happen in the future, and the near future at that. … Figures such as Marin Alsop from the US and the French baroque firebrand Emmanuelle Haïm have captured the imaginations of the public, musicians and managers alike; and perhaps it wasn’t insignificant that in 2008 the TV reality show Maestro, which focused wider public attention on the question of what makes a good conductor, was won by a woman, the comedian Sue Perkins. And now another is in the spotlight: the British conductor Julia Jones, 48, is about to take the podium at the Royal Opera House for the first time, in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. … Her career has flourished, so what’s been the problem elsewhere? Why are there so few women conductors? ‘How come we’re even having this conversation?’ Jones protests. ‘It’s 2010! Women conductors should not be the issue—it’s the musicianship that counts, it’s what you can bring to the work that is important, and for that gender is completely unimportant.’ ”

Posted January 22, 2010