THE DALLAS OPERA IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE
A $500,000 Grant from
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
In Support of a New Initiative:
“The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for
Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera”
Inaugural Session, Nov. 28-Dec. 6, 2015
DALLAS, NOVEMBER 18, 2015 – The Dallas Opera has been awarded a $500,000 grant over a three-year period from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of the company’s new initiative, “The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera.” This innovative program is designed to support the career aspirations and advancement of women conductors in the field of opera, while addressing the thorny problems resulting from ingrained gender inequality at the top of the profession.
The inaugural institute is scheduled to take place in Dallas from November 28th through December 6, 2015 with participants (six institute fellows, four additional American observers) selected from more than a hundred qualified applicants originating in 27 countries around the globe. There is no comparable program today for addressing the needs of talented young female conductors seeking to make their mark on the world’s top opera organizations.
Although “Level One” opera companies in North America (as defined by OPERA America) produce approximately a hundred different opera productions each year, women conductors will stand at the podium for only around 5% of the total number of productions during the 2015-2016 Season.
The situation is equally dire in the symphonic world: of the top symphony orchestras in the U.S., only one is led by a female music director (the Baltimore Symphony’s Marin Alsop).
Recent trends indicate the gender gap may, in fact, be widening. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that over the past decade, 44% of Masters Degrees and 30% of all doctorates in conducting went to women. Nevertheless, a mere dozen female conductors are positioned to lead the top 103 high-budget orchestras on this continent (League of American Orchestras report, 2013). “To some extent,” opined The Independent (U.K.) in 2010, “the scarcity of female conductors is a vicious circle. With so few women…in high-profile posts, the role models have not existed to inspire more, so the situation becomes self-perpetuating.”
“The Institute for Women Conductors” was created under the auspices of Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny to identify and support emerging major women conductors and provide an intensive residential program that combines master classes, coaching, and distinguished guest lecturers with hands-on podium time in front of a full-sized orchestra.
The Institute, launched with catalyst funding from the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation, will culminate on Saturday, December 5th, in a public concert “showcase” expected to attract high-ranking industry influencers and decision makers to the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House to experience these artists at work.
Additionally, Mr. Cerny is keen to develop a national “center for excellence” for women conductors, hosted by The Dallas Opera, as well as an ongoing support network consisting of peer-to-peer discussions, experienced mentoring, regular career consultations on specific media and management issues, and steps to encourage other music organizations to develop solutions that address the ongoing gender imbalance.
“The under-representation of women at the top of our profession is a complex problem that will require more than a single solution,” explains Mr. Cerny.
“Even where overt discrimination isn’t a factor, women conductors in the field often aren’t as visible as their male counterparts. In this business, ‘out of sight’ is ‘out of mind’ to a very real extent,” Cerny adds, “and talented women conductors are too-often passed over for important positions and opportunities because they haven’t caught the attention of artist management agencies, board search committees and the people most involved in an opera company’s day-to-day hiring decisions.
“By raising their profiles and increasing the visibility of outstanding women conductors through programs like the IWC, we have a chance to influence the future of this art form—and an opportunity to bring even more talented leaders to the conducting field.”
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, combined with additional major gifts, underscores the importance of programs designed to uncover solutions to longstanding inequities in the arts, such as the gender imbalance at the podium addressed by the “Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera.”
2015 IWC FELLOWS:
JENNIFER CONDON (Australia/Germany)
Jennifer Condon has been passionate about opera from an absurdly young age -- since her teens she has been fortunate to have fellow Australian, Simone Young, as mentor. Jennifer studied piano in Sydney, and conducting in Melbourne and Vienna before commencing work as a souffleuse at the Hamburg State Opera in 2008. She now has a repertoire of over 55 operas. During her time in Hamburg, Jennifer also brought Peggy Glanville-Hicks’ opera Sappho (1963) from the composer’s hand-written manuscript to the recording studio. The CD, with an eminent cast including Deborah Polaski, Sir John Tomlinson and Wolfgang Koch with the Gulbenkian Orchestra, has been released to considerable critical acclaim. Jennifer lives in Berlin and works as a free-lance vocal coach and prompt as she pursues a conducting career. Assistant conducting engagements to date include Lohengrin in Zurich and Salome in Vienna. Future engagements include Reimann’s Lear in Budapest and Ariadne auf Naxos in Tokyo.
JESSICA GETHIN (Australia)
Conductor Jessica Gethin, winner of the prestigious Brian Stacey Australian Emerging Conductor Award, has won praise from audiences and critics alike for her dynamic energy, outstanding musicianship and abounding presence on the podium. A graduate of the exclusive Symphony Australia Conductor Development Program, Ms. Gethin commenced her official appointment as Chief Conductor of the Perth Symphony Orchestra (Perth, Australia) in 2011. Jessica Gethin has performed on stages throughout Europe, USA, UK, Canada, Asia and Australia as conductor, concert presenter, program writer, orchestrator, guest lecturer, music educator and adjudicator. With a diverse background working across a variety of genres ranging from classical, jazz, opera and ballet to musical theatre, contemporary and film score; Jessica has recorded for numerous CDs, television documentaries, live radio broadcasts and television commercials. She was recently named one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Australia” for 2015 by the Australian Financial Review. Artist collaborations include conducting Welsh bass baritone Bryn Terfel, Divinyl’s Chrissy Amphlette, The Ten Tenors, soprano Rachelle Durkin, Australian screen star Lisa McCune, soprano Marina Prior, tenor David Hobson, jazz trumpeter James Morrison and Dutch violinist Rudolf Koelman, to name a few. Ms. Gethin currently resides in Western Australia with her husband and two children.
NATALIE MURRAY BEALE (UK)
Conductor Natalie Murray Beale is a BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellow and is being mentored by Esa-Pekka Salonen. She has performed with the Welsh National Opera, Opera Holland Park, Spitalfields Festival, Chamber Orchestra of London and the City of London Sinfonia. Ms. Murray Beale has also gained valuable experience as Assistant Conductor for the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Festival d’Aix, Wiener Festwochen and Den Nye Opera with the Philharmonia, Bergen Philharmonic, B’Rock Orchestra, Le Cercle de l’Harmonie and the Freiburger Barockorchester. Previous positions include serving on the music staff of Welsh National Opera; as coach at the Royal Opera House, Young Artist Programme; and as Guest Chorus Director of London Symphony Chorus.
Ms. Murray Beale enjoys collaborating with composers and recently conducted the soundtracks to the video game Alien:Isolation (BAFTA nominated) and the British film Robot Overlords. Her performances of the new opera, We are Shadows, received a Royal Philharmonic Society award. This year she will make her debuts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.
STEPHANIE RHODES (USA)
Stephanie Rhodes is a renowned opera collaborator, having served on the music staff of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia, The Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, LA Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera and Wolf Trap Opera, amongst others. She has garnered experience as a conductor, assistant conductor, prompter, chorus master, rehearsal pianist, orchestral keyboardist and diction coach. This summer she joins the Miami Summer Music Festival as the Studio Program Director and conductor of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, additionally participating as a fellow in the festival’s Orchestral Conducting Institute. As a Fulbright award recipient, Ms. Rhodes spent the 2012/13 season in Moscow specializing in Russian repertoire and pronunciation for non-native singers. She was recently commissioned by The Dallas Opera to transliterate Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and is currently working on a book to standardize Russian diction for singers. An alum of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and San Francisco’s Merola Opera program, she holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Utah State University in Collaborative Piano and Piano Performance.
ANNA SKRYLEVA (Russia/Germany)
Russian conductor Anna Skryleva has lived and worked in Germany for the past 15 years. Currently, Ms. Skryleva is engaged as principal resident conductor at The State Theatre, Darmstadt, in addition to performing as a concert pianist and a chamber musician in Russia, other European nations and Mexico. Anna Skryleva’s career as a conductor began in 2002 in Karlsruhe, where she was engaged at the Music College as music assistant of the conductor Prof. Alicja Mounk. From 2007 to 2012, Anna Skryleva was engaged at the State Opera Hamburg as musical assistant of Simone Young, where she acquired a wide repertoire, from German Romanticism to Italian bel canto to modern music of the 20th century. After successfully conducting Richard Strauss’ Salome at the State Theatre Darmstadt in 2013, Anna Skryleva was named Darmstadt’s Principal Resident Conductor. Since then, she has conducted new productions and revivals of works including Otello, Tristan und Isolde, Il trittico, Madame Butterfly, La traviata and many more. The German publication Main-Echo named Anna Skryleva “Person of the Year 2013.” Earlier this year, she was nominated for the “Emotion Award 2015” in the Category “Women in Leadership”; winners will be announced later this month.
LIDIYA YANKOVSKAYA (USA)
Lidiya Yankovskaya’s recent work as a symphonic and opera conductor has been hailed as “superb,” “expert,” and “coax[ing] every possible expressive note from the instrumentalists.” Currently, Ms. Yankovskaya serves as Music Director of Harvard University’s Lowell House Opera, Artistic Director of Juventas New Music Ensemble, and Music Director with Commonwealth Lyric Theater. She also works regularly with Gotham Chamber Opera, Center for Contemporary Opera, and New York Lyric Opera. Last summer, Ms. Yankovskaya served as a conducting fellow under renowned conductor Lorin Maazel at the Castleton Festival, where she had the privilege of assisting Maestro Maazel and filled in for him regularly in rehearsal and performance. Recent productions have received multiple awards ranging from The American Prize to the National Opera Association Award. In addition to her work as a conductor, Lidiya is a pianist and coach, recently serving as Music Director for Opera Boston’s education tours. Presently, she is working as a Russian Diction Coach and occasional rehearsal conductor for Tanglewood Festival Chorus (the chorus of the Boston Symphony). www.LidiyaYankovskaya.com
2015 IWC OBSERVERS:
ARIANNE ABELA (USA)
Known for her work promoting charitable organizations, conductor Arianne Abela has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and America’s Got Talent as artistic director of “3 Penny,” a non-profit chorus and orchestra, and co-founder of “House of Clouds.” Arianne served as music director of Saybrook College Orchestra and has conducted the Yale Symphony Orchestra, Wesleyan University Orchestra and the Vidin State Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria. As a chorusmaster, Abela has prepared choirs for Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin, Rafael Payare, and Martin Katz, as well as for the University of Michigan Opera in productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. As a soloist and professional ensemble singer, Abela has performed with major ensembles across North America, Europe and Asia. Abela is currently a doctoral candidate in conducting at the University of Michigan under the tutelage of Jerry Blackstone. She holds a master’s degree in conducting from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree from Smith College.
LUÇIK APRAHÄMIAN (USA)
Luçik Aprahämian’s versatility as a conductor makes her equally at home in front of an orchestra, leading a vocal ensemble, or guiding outstanding performances on the opera stage. With her profound passion for opera, Dr. Aprahämian has served as co-artistic director of Southern Arizona Opera, worked with Opera Parallèle and Bayshore Lyric Opera (both located in the Bay area), and served as assistant conductor and director of the Opera Theatre Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She is an avid exponent of new music and has commissioned and premiered works for choir, orchestra, and opera with ensembles in the Bay Area and Arizona. Recent premieres include Andrew Pascoe’s opera, God: The Opera and David Evan Jones’s chamber opera, The Rehearsal. Dr. Aprahämian received her bachelor’s degree in fortepiano performance practice, as well as a master’s degree in conducting, from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She pursued additional graduate studies to earn her doctorate in conducting from the University of Arizona.
AVLANA EISENBERG (USA)
Music Director of the Boston Chamber Symphony, Avlana Eisenberg has conducted orchestras throughout the United States and in France, Germany, Austria, Scotland, Spain, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Her debut CD, with soloist Zina Schiff and the Budapest Symphony Orchestra MAV, features violin concertos by Sibelius and Barber and the world premiere orchestral recording of Ben-Haim’s Three Songs without Words. Eisenberg received a Fulbright Fellowship for conducting study in Paris and apprenticeship at the Paris National Opera and was one of Glamour magazine’s “Top Ten College Women of the Year.” As an undergraduate at Yale University, she founded and directed the Silliman Symphony and was honored with Yale’s “V. Browne Irish Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts.” An alumna of Interlochen Arts Camp and the Aspen Music Festival, Eisenberg holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan and a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Institute.
CO BOI NGUYEN (USA)
Ms. Co Boi Nguyen has been on the faculty of the University of Redlands, School of Music since 2006, serving as music director of the University of Redlands Orchestra and Opera. From 2005 to 2007, Ms. Nguyen was conductor and faculty member of the C.W. Post Chamber Music Festival at Long Island University, New York. At the same time, she also worked as assistant conductor to Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun in New York. As an alumna of the Vietnam National Academy of Music, Ms. Nguyen returns to Hanoi regularly to perform and to give master classes. She made her highly acclaimed debut with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra at the Hanoi Opera House in July 2002, making her the first woman ever to lead the ensemble. Ms. Nguyen is a graduate of the conducting programs at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the Juilliard School in New York.
EVENTS, GUESTS AND ARTISTS SUBJECT TO CHANGE
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