Maestras: The Long Journey of Women to the Podium

A documentary on female conductors

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Sylvia Caduff — Conductor

Barbara Hannigan — Conductor

Marin Alsop — Conductor

Anu Tali — Conductor

Konstantia Gourzi — Conductor

Joana Mallwitz — Conductor

Program notes

When a woman steps onto the conductor's podium, she is always one of "the first": the first to lead a world-class orchestra, the first to conduct the closing night of London's "Proms," the first to win a prestigious conducting prize. Is the world of orchestral conducting finally ready to change its attitudes toward female conductors for good?

How can we explain the small number of female conductors on the international scene? The documentary Maestras follows several conductors at the 2016 Lucerne Festival, whose "Prima Donna" theme played with and explored this question. In rehearsals, concerts, and interviews with conductors like Barbara Hannigan, Marin Alsop, Anu Tali, and Konstantia Gourzi—who are redefining every day what is possible for women in the conducting world—Maestras attempts to give a wider perspective on a subject that merits our attention.

The film also follows the evolution of the pathbreaking, brilliant, now-retired Swiss conductor Sylvia Caduff, Leonard Bernstein's first assistant who stood in for Herbert von Karajan to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic in 1978. In retrospect, Caduff's story represents a true leap forward for more than just the world of classical music.

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