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Classical 101

New Girls-Only Workshops Foster Young Women Conductors

Above: In her speech at the Last Night of the 2013 BBC Proms, conductor Marin Alsop says, 'It amazes me that it is 2013 and there can still be firsts for women" In September 2013, the American conductor Marin Alsop became the first woman ever to conduct the Last Night of the BBC Proms. Alsop's Proms appearance came amid a maelstrom of comments issued by some of the world's top male conductors and decrying women conductors as too weak, hypersexualized and maternally preoccupied to take on the demands of international conducting careers. In response to that commentary and energized by Alsop's inspiring Proms moment, Britain's Morley College has established a series of workshops aimed at giving promising 16 to 19-year-old young women music students the chance to experience first-hand what conducting is like, according to The Guardian. The noted British conductor Alice Farnham leads the workshops, which include eight participants nominated by the junior division at one of Britain's major music conservatories, in master classes to hone conducting technique and interpersonal skills. There are plans to expand this year's workshops next year to include musicians of college age and beyond throughout the U.K.  According to Farnham's website, "Plans are afoot for a more extensive programme next year with workshops at Morley College, satellite courses around the country and widening the age group up to 25." Read more: Girls-Only Course Aims to Tackle Shortage of Female Conductors (The Guardian)