Lack Of Women Composers Among Some Big Budget Orch 2018/19 Programming

On 1/31/2018, the always sharp Alex Ross published a short but powerful tweet about something he noticed in the 2018/19 season announcements from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Not too long ago, we examined a similar lack of women composers in masterworks programming at the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO); in that instance, the BSO included one women composer but now two of their large budget peers have zero.

The ensuing discussion thread to Ross’ tweet is fascinating in and of itself; there’s no shortage of those lamenting the situation but there were some who seemed to think the composers are to responsible for their lack of inclusion while others see the issue as being out of the hands of the organizations making programming decisions.

If nothing else, all of this just goes to demonstrate how imperative, not to mention timely, projects like composer Rob Deemer’s Women Composers Database are for organizations as they make programming decisions.

A Fully Operational Women Composers Database

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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