Introducing WMLON: Women's Musical Leadership Online AHRC Network

Minors, Helen (2022) Introducing WMLON: Women's Musical Leadership Online AHRC Network. In: Kingston School of Arts Research Lunch Hour; 16 Feb 2022, Held online. (Unpublished)


To this day, musical leadership remains one of the most male-dominated musical areas. As late as 2013, women conductors achieved a significant first when Marin Alsop became the first woman to conduct the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms. Indeed, musical leadership itself is often constructed as residing in male authority figures, quintessentially exemplified through the maestro conductor. This ‘maestro myth’ (as Norman Lebrecht characterised it, 1997) has been perpetuated since the mid-nineteenth century through the ‘maestro writing tradition’ of male conductors from Berlioz (1843) and Wagner (1869), through Stokowski (1944), Furtwängler (1953), and Boult (1963), to Boulez (2003). This presentation shifts the spotlight to considering women’s musical leadership and explores the impetuses behind the founding of the Women’s Musical Leadership Online Network (WMLON), in 2019, and also presents its initial findings. Why do we need to talk about women’s leadership at all? What are the aims of this project? What are the key stakeholders? With the dual aim of both researching women’s musical leadership and acting as a support network for women musical leaders and potential leaders, WMLON interrogates the current context of women in musical leadership with a specific focus on three areas: women in the music industries, women in educational leadership, and women leading contemporary musical practices. WMLON was established following the first International Conference on Women in/and Musical Leadership, speaks in partnership with the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Women and Musical Leadership: The Nineteenth Century and Beyond, and is being further developed via an AHRC network grant between January 2022 and November 2023. WMLON is open to all. Note: woman is defined in its broadest sense.

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