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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH
deals with iTunes, Facebook and gender issues in conducting

Dave Griffiths, also known as Gloria Stoatgobbler ' Dear Alice,
We were speaking on Monday about the best Tchaikovsky 4th. George Szell's is on iTunes and is a strong contender. (If you can't find iTunes, then don't blame me, I'm only trying to be helpful, which is way beyond the job description of a viola player.)

Can also draw your attention to the fantastic, almost ethereal interpretation of Motorhead's Killed By Death song on the No Sleep Till Hammersmith LP -- captures all of the majestic grandeur of the piece, whilst still managing to retain the sound of a bus queue being run over by a truck. I'm in tears just writing about it.

' Dave Griffiths
aka Gloria Stoatgobbler

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Alice Dear Dave/Gloria,
Thanks for the tip!!!! -- You know me, old-fashioned girl, can't text, screams at her computer, and never looked at itunes (I've been berated by some other forty-somethings, would you believe, for not being on something called Facebook????!!!!! Surely this is just for the more narcissistic brand of teen????)

Anyway, loved your letter, found the site. You're a star.

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Diane Wittry ' Hi There -- I just found some interesting information on your site about women conductors. I am the Music Director of the Allentown Symphony (PA), the Norwalk Symphony (CT) and newly appointed Artistic Director of the Ridgewood Symphony (NJ). I also have a book out, Beyond the Baton (Oxford University Press 2007) which defines the role of the Music Director off the podium. I am hoping that we will reach a time where gender will not be a issue, but rather musicianship and skill as a conductor. Since women were not even allowed into the Masters and Doctoral programs in the United States until the mid 1960s, of course they are behind, but I see more and more women studying conducting and getting positions with good orchestras. I am excited to be in a field that keeps growing.
Diane Wittry

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Alice Dear Diane,
Thanks for this, though there doesn't seem to be a question in it!!!! Perhaps you answered your implied question yourself: why is it taking so long for women (like Marin Alsop) to do so well? (It was news to me that they weren't allowed on to conducting programmes in the US for so long.)

I trust in your new book you point out how conductors should behave off the podium -- ie charming, chatty, winning, money-spinning -- all the things that drove Barenboim to quit Chicago!!!! ('I vant to make ze music, not shake zee hands ...')

Has it occurred to you that the reason male conductors are preferred by orchestras is the same reason as why male political candidates are preferred by constituencies? (Two reasons, in fact: with a male candidate you tend to get two for the price of one, and that powerful, rich, grey-haired ladies tend to -- er -- prefer being led by powerful rich grey-haired men.)

Copyright © 25 January 2008 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK

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