A Celebration for Women Everywhere
Victory amidst a broken system and flawed process
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra said yesterday that it had closed a deal with Marin Alsop, announcing that she would take over as its music director in 2007 on a three-year contract.
--Daniel J. Wakin,
"Baltimore Hires Director Over Objections of Musicians,"
The New York Times, July 21, 2005
In 1989, Peggy and I were on a plane bound for the World Curling Championships in Milwaukee. The captain was a woman, and all the flight attendants were men.
Some of the old members of our curling club who were on the same flight were not happy.
I loved it!
I believe that with very few exceptions, women can do anything men can do--and often a lot better.
Until now, major American orchestras have always been conducted by men with (very) occasional guest appearances by women.
The selection of Marin Alsop to be principal conductor of the Baltimore Symphony--the first woman to hold such a post with a major American orchestra--should be hailed as an occasion for music lovers and feminists everywhere to rejoice.
The deal came within a whisker of falling apart.
To me, music is a total mystery. I deal with words. Musicians work with little black dots.
Conductors can read a full orchestral score--lines of dots and symbols representing dozens of different instruments--and hear the whole thing in their heads.
Arturo Toscannini reportedly was so nearsighted he had to put his nose in a score to read it. As a result, he always conducted from memory and carried in his head an inventory of 600 complete symphonies, operas, concertos oratorios and other assorted works. Think of the money you could save on CDs with a talent like that!
During the years, I have been lucky enough to see a number of great classical conductors work their magic--Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein, George Szell, Pierre Monteux, James Levine and Mstislav Rostropovich, to name a few.