The day after I attended the final session of the new series of conducting workshops for young women at Morley College, I learn that Jorma Panula, one of the world’s leading conducting teachers, has been talking about women conductors.
The course, and the rationale for it, came under modest attack from one or two commentators. Panula’s words should perhaps give them cause to rethink.
A report of his comments can be found here. It’s in Finnish, which I don’t speak, but here’s a translation I’ve been given of part of it. If it’s incorrect in any way, let me know.
Q: Do you think it is good that women enter the profession and become conductors?
JP: No! What the hell, we have men already. It is such a limited profession… They can try, but it is a completely different deal. I can’t comment on media or public opinion. But women… Of course they are trying! Some of them are making faces, sweating and fussing, but it is not getting any better – only worse! They can come [to my masterclasses] and try. It’s not a problem – if they choose the right pieces. If they take more feminine music. Bruckner or Stravinsky will not do, but Debussy is OK. This is a purely biological question.’