‘If someone says “I can’t get used to women conductors”, at least I know what I’m dealing with’: Marin Alsop

13 February 2018, 12:58

The great Marin Alsop spoke to our very own Catherine Bott backstage at the Southbank Centre, ahead of a masterclass for young conductors. She shared her tips for young conductors and explained why she thinks it’s high-time for a discussion about how society views women in leadership roles.

“One of the biggest inhibitors to women gaining more success [as conductors] is because there aren’t enough opportunities to make errors,” Marin Alsop told Classic FM presenter Catherine Bott. “To be successful, you have to fail.”

“I see conducting like the ultimate coaching position: you have to find a team, you have to build them up and you have to find the games. You also have to have a lot of perseverance, you have to be thoughtful enough to figure out ways around the locked doors.”

Marin was speaking backstage at the Southbank Centre, where she's Associate Artist, before leading a masterclass for young conductors – young conductors who happened to be female.

‘I’m not much about being politically correct’

The sight of a woman on the podium is becoming more and more common, but as Marin explains, there’s still a discussion that needs to be had:

“I'm not much about being politically correct. I'd much rather know where people stand in their psyche. If someone says ‘You know, I really I just can't get used to a woman on the podium,’ at least I know what I'm dealing with. So I'm all about at least starting the discussion.

“Of course the way society looks at a woman on the podium is completely different from a man on the podium, because we've been trained to react differently – to even the same gesture by a woman or by a man.”

Watch the full interview above – and tune in to Catherine Bott’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Classical Music focussing on female conductors on Sunday 4 March at 9pm

Marin Alsop will be back at the Southbank Centre conducting Bernstein's MASS with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and Chineke! Juniors on 6 and 7 April