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At Bayreuth’s birthday bash, why so few women?

Our scout at the Wagner Bicentenary Concert in Bayreuth yesterday was so bored that he took to counting the number of women in the Festival Orchestra.

Not many.

Eleven were listed in the programme, but there were never more than seven on stage. The ensemble was drawn from all the best German orchestras. Quality? No question. Equality? Forget it.

Given that the Bayreuth Festival is run by two women and celebrates a composer who surrounded himself with strong women,  this strikes us as a pretty wretched regression.


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  1. Fabio Fabrici says:

    Well, if quality was out of question, then what is the problem? Last hospital I was in, most nurses were women. Let’s discuss.

  2. Malcolm James says:

    At least it’s 5 1/2 the number in the VPO at the New Year’s Day Concert!

  3. The problem is sexism in the German orchestral world. Last season only 11% of the Bayreuther Festspiel Orchestra were women. And worse, the m/f ratio in the winds and percussion was 63 to 1 — or 1.5%. (That one woman among 63 men was the oboist Beate Aanderud.) Outside of harpists there were only 15 women among the orchestra’s 163 members – less than 10%. I haven’t made a count for this year, but I doubt there is any significant change.

    I’m not sure, and perhaps someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I think membership in the Bayreuth Orchestra is by invitation. They have no formal audition process. This is one reason the ratio for women is so low. Especially in the winds, the men only invite men to join them. Without a formal audition procedure, there is nothing to hinder the sexism so Bayreuth has the lowest ratio of women in any orchestra in Germany.

    Women now represent about 30% of the personnel in German orchestras. If Bayreuth held fair auditions, women would quickly reach about that ratio. Katharina and Eva need to let the orchestra know that this situation must change, and without unnecessary delays. There are plenty of great women musicians in Germany who would only enhance the quality of the orchestra. Without them, this will be one more reason that Bayreuth’s troubling reputation will continue.

  4. Michael Fischer says:

    Yep, this is out of balance. Also far too few players from single parent families were there. And the Turkish minority was totally underrepresented in the orchestra …

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      Yes, and what about a few asylum seekers, too? After all, we need to make it representative of society, don’t we?

  5. Theodore McGuiver says:

    Oh, don’t start. This debate has become so boring. Why not have quotas for LBGT players while we’re about it and not be satisfied until every orchestra in the world has become a boring, cookie-cutter replica of every other with no distinction of sound or panache. Let people with a proven track record of quality run their institutions as they see fit. This quota mania has really got out of hand; let’s talk about things that actually matter in the making of classical music in the twenty-first century.

    • Yes, the quota mania favoring men has to go. 62 to 1 in the winds is ridiculous, and stands in line with the worst things we hear about Bayreuth. Bayreuth needs fair, blind auditions so that the best people get the jobs, not just men.

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        The BFO is the best in the world at Wagner. There is no need to change a winning formula. The music is more important than those playing it.

        • stanley cohen says:

          “.The music is more important than those playing it.”
          Fascinating – whatever it may mean…

          • stanley cohen says:

            Did it occur to any of these politically correct activists posting here that there might just be a much smaller number of women than men who are orchestral players? Given that this is a distinct possibility, it makes their ‘equality of opportunity’ stance look mire than a bit shaky.

          • About 30% of the orchestra personnel in Germany are women, but only 11% in Bayreuth. Excluding the 5 women harpists, less than 10% are women.

          • stanley cohen says:

            30% nationally and only 10% in Bayreuth – but we must exclude the 5 lady harpists. WHY? Are men congenitally unfit to play the harp? What would the Bayreuth percentage have been if the five were to have been included. Is there going to be an “Equality & Diversity” caucus set up to force unwilling female musicians to apply for jobs there? This farce seems to have run its course – hopefully.

          • With the five woman harpists, the ratio of women in the orchestra is still only 11%. Harp is the only orchestral instrument that has historically been coded as feminine. As a result, all 5 harpists in the BFO are women. For these reasons, m/f ratios for orchestras often provide for comparison the ratio of women aside from harpists. It is a sexist myth to say women do not want to play in the BFO.

          • stanley cohen says:

            If 5 women are equivalent to just 1%, then 10% are equivalent to 50 women in the Bayreuth orchestra.

          • The 15 non-harpist women represent 9.2% of the of the orchestra’s 163 members. Including harpists, the 20 women comprise 12.2%.

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        If we take this quota mania to its logical, ridiculous conclusion, what would happen if we ended up with an exceptional candidate for a post who would be necessarily be excluded because someone of the opposite gender were required to either establish or keep up the happy-clappy balance? Result: a wilful, calculated reduction in quality, and that in the name of equality. Bayreuth’s process isn’t perfect but the sound is magnificent. Let their recruitment process evolve the way they see fit.

        • David B says:

          Nobody is suggesting quotas, just a fair audition process – as was stated quite early in this debate.
          Unfortunately whenever the question of women’s under-representation is raised, some people seem to fly into a kind of panic about ‘political correctness’ as if they feared immediate arrest by the Stasi.

          • When addressing sexism, people force the idea of quotas into the discussion to create a straw man they can argue against. Its a worn out tactic because its so transparently specious.

    • McGuiver,

      You’re right. Again a discussion concerning quotas for players, but at this time mixed with other usual polemical topic. The old devil Wagner. I can figure out the thrill if a specific younger was the conductor of this concert at Bayreuth.

      Law formally forbids women from playing the didgeridoo at ceremonies. Why no one says anything about it just for a while?

      • stanley cohen says:

        Would you object to providing an English translation of your post, Rgiarola?

        • Rgiarola says:

          Mr. Cohen,

          I’m sorry. If English is really necessary to you, I will try to provide it.

          “Who cares that women cannot play Didgeridoo? No one. The reason is that nobody cares about small ,poor and far away communities.”

  6. Hasbeen says:

    Agree with Mr McGulver and also would say stop the Wagner and Bayreuth bashing.

  7. Michael Fischer says:

    Especially when performing works in twelve-tone technique (no key) or alike it is key to put together players who get together because of the law instead of their personal preferences. So my suspicion is that the relative failure of modern compositions has to do with orchestra players who just like each other too much. Not enough hate in the system for dodecaphony.

  8. Theodore McGuiver says:

    I also remember reading somewhere that many women choose not to devote their entire summer to playing in an orchestra pit, preferring to spend their time differently i.e. on holiday, with family etc. Maybe, in the interests of ‘equality’, we should withdraw this option and forbid them from spending their summer vacation how they wish.

  9. Awful, just awful. I am sorry your scout had to sit through all that. Could you please let him know that I am more than willing to take any ticket(s) he may have for any future events at that regressive institution off his hands?

  10. One of the useful things about the comments section of Slipped Disk is that it often reveals the misogyny women in classical music still face.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      It’s not misogyny, William. It’s exasperation at the notion that everything, including those things that work perfectly well, have to be tampered with in order to correspond to an impractical ideal which will, in any case, be no guarantee of an improvement in quality. I notice you only ever target first-class, venerable institutions for your equality crusade: VPO, BPO, BFO. If these orchestras are top of their respective trees then they are clearly providing the service which we, as informed listeners, demand and hope to obtain. How that particular sound is made falls fairly and squarely in their sphere of competence; not mine, not yours.

      Bond Quartet has no men. That’s their choice. Anyone screaming ‘Quotas!’ about that? No. San Francisco has a LBGT Orchestra. Let’s get on their case about their recruiting policy too, shall we? This argument doesn’t have to be a one-way street targeting those nasy, nasty men, does it?

      • So having more women in the BFO (or any orchestra) would amount to “an impractical ideal which will, in any case, be no guarantee of an improvement in quality”? This doesn’t sound misogynic to you? Do you really believe that we should just take everything for granted and leave things like they are because since they’re “working perfectly well”? Do you realise that the exact same arguments have been used for centuries to deny women even their most basic rights?

        No woman wants to be hired for a job just to make the figures look better, and no-one is suggesting they should be. But with so many capable woman musicians around, not seeing a lot of them in some top orchestras makes the question “why?” a very legitimate one. It does absolutely no harm to think about this, and there is certainly no reason for all this exasperation, anger and sarcasm.

        • Theodore McGuiver says:

          A few points, PJ:

          1) The ‘impractical ideal’ is the notion of aligning the amount of women players in an orchestra to exactly match their representation in society. There are many variables, not least the fact that many women may not want to spend their entire summer holiday in an orchestra pit.

          2) ‘No guarantee of an improvement in quality’ refers to this ‘Revolution Today’ mindset that everything must change immediately to correspond to our, happily, more progressive thinking that there should be more equality in orchestras. It’s happening all over the world, and every institution is engaging in it at their own pace. Some ensembles need more time, but it will happen. Erroneously screaming ‘Misogynist’ at everyone who is a little sceptical of the possibility of waking up tomorrow to find the BPO, VPO and BFO 50-50 in terms of gender representation only serves to weaken your credibility and undermine the force of your arguments.

          Misogyny is the hatred of women or girls and I can see precious little evidence of it in these threads. What I do see is this: on the one hand, a group relentlessly exhorting representative equality of women in classical music institutions, principally orchestras. On the other, another group of people, albeit in agreement (as am I), but a little tired of the incessant statistical browbeating, the usurpation of the social moral high ground, the highjacking of any debate concerning concerning these bodies and instant dismissal of any point of view which does not correspond exactly to this other groups’ new world vision.

          I would imagine that anyone worthy of being let loose in society without a leash would agree that we need more women in these great orchestras – I, for one, would love to see more women in positions of true political power, as I’m convinced this could only be a good thing – but doubt that changing everything immediately at the heart of these institutions via quotas and political projects would necessarily be a good thing. After decades of being Boys’ Clubs the pace at which the above-mentioned venerable orchestras can effectively be expected to change is not the same as one could expect of, say, an orchestra founded in 1976. All I’m saying is let them change at their own rate, naturally and in tune with their own place in society.

          Incidentally, Wiliam’s Bayreuth statistics now have the number of women at 12.2%. That number was only 11% at the beginning of this thread. That’s already progress. I still don’t understand why we were required to exclude the five women harpists, though, as if they were only there by default.

          In conclusion: I think if you lightened up a little and didn’t take yourselves so seriously you’d win a lot more people round to your way of thinking.

          • Thanks for the nuance, Theodore. Just a few points from me:

            1) No-one in their right mind would agree that those orchestras should as of now hire as many women as possible just to get the numbers right, as if the numbers were all that counted. These things take time and artistic quality should always remain the main criterium – until here I agree with you.

            2) I have no problem with a little sound skepticism and realism, on the contrary. What I do have a problem with, is some of the arguments that are being used, because they suggest if not hatred, at least contempt for women: “it’s no guarantee for quality improvement”, “if we go this route we’ll end up in a boring world where everything resembles everything else”… not to mention the absurdist counterarguments: “Well, then we should apply the same attitude towards nurses/harpists/sopranos/LGBT orchestras”. No we shouldn’t. We men aren’t really in need of emancipation, we get to do pretty much what we want with our lives. Also, you can’t treat women as a racial or sexual minority, since they comprise half of the world population.

            3) Pointing out gender inequality within a venerable musical institution doesn’t in the least dismiss its artistic excellence. I can thoroughly enjoy the playing of the VPO and at the same time take note of the few women in its ranks. Instead of passively waiting to see how things evolve, I do think some kind of action is necessary: taking a closer look at recrutement procedures, simply making people aware of the things that maintain the low rate of women at the top. That’s not the same as imposing unrealistic quotas which should be fulfilled regardless of everything else. Nobody’s waiting for that.

            In conclusion: on the contrary, I think we men should take the whole debate a little more seriously, instead of dismissing all criticism with the same arguments that have been used for ages, while pretending that “we should only worry about the music”. Yes, it’s all about the music, but it wouldn’t do any harm to make the music world a little fairer while we’re at it.

    • Hoof Hearted says:

      It’s imperative that homophobia is treated as the crime of our century and that all orchestras worldwide immediately adopt a policy reflective of society in general. Once could surmise, by the amount of coverage the BBC for example gives to homosexual issues, that 75% of the population is homosexual. Therefore, all orchestras should contain 75% homosexual membership.

      And while we’re at it, we need more Muslim representation in orchestras. I’d say about 85% again judging by the amount of BBC news these days.

      Don’t talk to me about ‘numbers’ and mathematics. That’s a colonial straight male hegemonic social construct, you know.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      “Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.” – H. L. Mencken

  11. Utterly childish reactions from a group of chauvinists here. There’s nothing ridiculous about questioning the total absence of something vaguely resembling gender equality in a top orchestra when about 50% of the world population is female, and so many of them excellent musicians. Is it really too much to ask to just be aware of this?

    • Michael Fischer says:

      Ridiculous. Just look at the VPO calendar. During last few weeks they had the following female violin soloists on the agenda: Anne-Sophie Mutter, Janine Jansen, Julia Fischer and Hilary Hahn. And ONE male violin soloist: Michael Barenboim (with his father conducting). And I am not talking about the repertoire here, M. Barenboim and the four ladies were allowed to perform. Google yourself, please.

      In summary: With VPO female soloists in the string section are overrepresented, female players in the orchestra underrepresented and female room cleaners at their Musikverein facilities overrepresented. Lots of stuff for fighting wind mills. I cannot believe what I am reading about theoretical, abstract and useless justice in art here. Do some authors read (or even understand) their own contributions? Get a life, pleae.

    • Good point, PJ. Apparently it IS too much too ask. Surprise, surprise…white males are upset about having their hegemony questioned. Favorite line of reasoning: “Hey, it’s already been fixed! We don’t do that stuff anymore! Get a life!” Ever wonder why we don’t see many comments from females calling all this equality business “ridiculous,” “boring,” etc?

  12. Fabio Fabrici says:

    Maybe there are so few women in the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra because in the pit at Bayreuth they can’t be seen?

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      No, but seriously, isn’t the BFO by invitation mostly? AFAIK they have no auditions, or do they?

  13. Thaddeus Watson says:

    Hey you guys….
    This birthday bash was organized a year ago. All of the current members of the BFO were asked if they would be able to get free from their home orchestras in order to perform the celebration.If you couldn’t get out of an obligation to your home orchestra, then you don’t say yes to the birthday celebration. Most of us couldn’t do that, I couldn’t (Mahler 8 Frankfurt)!
    I will admit that there are not enough women in the festival orchestra, but there are quite a few more than were able to attend this past week! And, the numbers of women in the orchestra grow with each summer season, and I don’t mean the harps and flutes. There is no question that this has been, in American terms, a good ol’e boy organization for over a century, but even in the fairy tale world of Bayreuth things do change.
    As for some of the other calls for equality, well, I’m not Muslim, but as an Afro American who has been a member of the BFO since 2002, I can assure all of you, that we are not dealing with a den of raving fascists…

    • We are dealing with an organization that has an m/f ratio in its winds and percussion of 63 to 1.

      • Gerhard says:

        Dear William,
        isn’t repeating the same thing over and over merely preaching to the already convinced and quite unlikely to change anyone else’s mind? It somehow reminds me of the Jehova’s Witnesses I see in the streets. I never get the feeling that their presence is about convincing the unbelieving crowds, but rather to prove their moral superiority to the erring world. I myself am sharing your well known stance towards gender equality as well as regarding the public funding of arts. Yet I can’t help getting weary of reading the same statements over and over again at any given opportunity. In this case, for instance, have you ever asked yourself whether there might be a considerably smaller proportion of female musicians who are interested to play this gig than their male colleagues to begin with? I’m not claiming to know, mind you, because I have no facts, but I could easily imagine more than one reason …

        • The m/f ratio in the winds is 63 to 1. It is absurd to think that many women don’t want to play in Bayreuth. Such myths are actually sexist, and illustrate once again why the discussions continue – by me and countless others. We can only hope that those who oppose bigotry will be more persistent than those who create it. It’s not a struggle for those who just give up and quietly go away.

          • William, the number, on the surface, doesn’t look good, but I would not jump to conclusions here. Joining the Festival orchestra means giving up a good part of your summer holiday and doing so at low pay, lousy accommodations (think: summer camp), no spouses or children, and having to play in an especially tight pit where the temperature and humidity is that of the extreme tropics, without benefit of a beach nearby, and an air quality that probably takes years off a wind player’s life expectancy. If a player does not have a passion for Wagner, does not enjoy the summer camp-like atmosphere, and doesn’t need the modest extra income, then the Festival orchestra is not particularly attractive and I believe that this goes for many younger players, from among which the largest cohort of women in German top-level orchestras are necessarily going to be found. Reviewing the list of names, I noticed many players who are not German or Austrian (including an African-American and several Jewish players) and, yes, that full complement of five women harpists. So, not ideal, but I suspect that a study of the orchestra membership over the years will definitely indicate that it has consistently been moving in a more inclusive direction.

      • Michael Fischer says:

        There are certainly many more hospitals than orchestras, all with terrible f/m ratios. So this is the bigger problem, much bigger. Let’s be effective and start fighting for male rights in the health business first. Greater impact on society!

      • Gurnemanz says:

        Who cares, if they play well?

    • No, you don’t mean the flutes. They’re all male too.

      • Musiker says:

        They’re not all male. There was a female flautist at the Bicentenary Concert on Wednesday.

        • In the regular orchestra for the 2012 season, all the flutes were male.

          • stanley cohen says:

            I;m a singer and can usually tell the difference, but how does one distinguish between a male and a female flute, please?

          • Musiker says:

            Sure. But it’ll be interesting to see whether she’ll be asked back for the festival proper, given there is some scope for fluctuation.

          • I too hope the woman flutist will be a part of the regular season. Since membership in the orchestra is by invitation from the section, the stats for Bayreuth say a good deal about the latent sexism that exists in German orchestras. It also illustrates how male oriented mentoring and professional networks serve to consciously or unconsciously exclude women.

            Two of my wife’s former students are members of the orchestra. They both gained their positions through personal contacts in the male oriented world of the BFO.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            The fact that they studied with your wife doesn’t exactly make them look like raging misogynists, does it?
            You are acting as if playing in Bayreuth was a great privilege that is denied to women. It is not. There is a certain prestige attached to it, but it’s not all that well paid and it’s a total grind – very long hours in the crowded, deep orchestra pit and it can get very loud in there.

  14. As a white guy it gives me no satisfaction or comfort that OTHER white guys have all the good jobs in Bayreuth. What I want to know is how come there aren’t more positions for guys named Dave? It’s a scandal.

  15. Theodore McGuiver says:

    The Bayreuth Festival’s unofficial chief conductor, German maestro Christian Thielemann, directed the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra in a performance of Act 1 of “The Valkyrie”, the Prelude and “Liebestod” from “Tristan and Isolde”, Siegfried’s Rhine Journey and Funeral March from “Twilight of the Gods” and the overture to “The Mastersingers of Nuremberg”.

    The star line-up of soloists, tumultuously applauded, were South African tenor Johan Botha, Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek and South Korean bass Kwangchul Youn.

    I think you need a new scout.

  16. Theodore McGuiver says:

    That previous post should include the reference to your scout being bored.

  17. George Eliot says:

    Perhaps women are too discerning to join that orchestra, much like this debate :/

  18. The ratio of women in the Bayreuth winds and percussion is only 1.5%. Dialog with sexists and sexist institutions is generally futile because their views do not derive from rational belief systems, but rather psychological problems concerning women. I learned this 30 years ago dealing with the sexism my wife faced in the Munich Philharmonic. For details see:

    Generally, the only violable approach is to put pressure on orchestras legally, or through the media, so that they are obligated to treat women fairly. As the presence of women increases, orchestras then begin to resolve the psychological problems caused by sexism. As the Vienna Phil illustrates, this can be a very difficult process for deeply sexist institutions. The BFO is not so extreme, but sexism in the winds and percussion is still strong.

    Another value of protest, is that it can illustrate and widely publicize the sexism that exists in orchestras. This increased awareness helps women in a wide variety of cases across the field.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      Why do you constantly scream ‘Sexist’ when a more plausible explanation might just be traditional practices which take time to change? Is your obsession with the wind and percussion section in the BFO somehow linked to the fact that your wife is a trombonist? In 1993 I became music director of a German orchestra formed in 1990. There were 28 players of which ten positions attracted not one single female candidate. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the French horns, brass and percussion sections. Of the 18 posts that were contested by candidates of both sexes, nine went to women, which makes the orchestra pretty exemplary by anyone’s standards. No-one talked about quotas, there was no mention of sexism and certainly nobody needed to put pressure on the panel to hire women; the best candidates got the jobs. The first round was behind a screen, the second open.

      The point of this story relates to an earlier reply I made to PJ: that newer ensembles have less traditional baggage than older ones and the fact that sexism, as you put it, is utterly irrelevant. Trying to force musical behemoths to instantly change practices which have served them so well for so long will only fuel their resistance to change, I’d imagine. Softly, softly and you’ll see they’ll do it themselves. It’ll take time, but it’ll be in tune with their own natural rhythm and the results will be that much more worthwhile for it.

      • 63 to 1 in Bayreuth’s winds and percussion is sexist. And it represents “traditional practices.” If its not repeatedly pointed out by numerous people, they won’t change.

        • I just spoke with a long-term member of one of the woodwind sections and he indicated that they had invited women as first choices for each of the most recent vacancies, but none had accepted due to the summertime commitment, pay, and working conditions. So, again, not perfect, but it appears that they’re trying.

          • Women musicians are just as dedicated and prepared to make sacrifices for art as men. To say they aren’t is sexist. It’s just that women haven’t been invited in fair proportion.

            If the BFO is serious, they can find qualified women who are willing and avaiable to join. As always, an orchestra’s intentions are most accurately measured by actual practice. Otherwise, suave and manipulative words are often substituted for genuine fairness.

        • Theodore McGuiver says:

          Point taken, don’t worry. I’ve just read your article about your wife’s travails with the Munich Philharmonic thirty years ago and it seems more crushing of Celibidache’s attitude than anything else. I recently worked with one of his former students and it seems he didn’t only inherit the elder man’s knowledge of music…

          • Theodore McGuiver says:

            By the way, William, your last comment is disingenuous to say the least. If the second best candidate for a post is a man who’s available and willing, then he should get it. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of imposing quotas. As you yourself said earlier: the best should get the job.

          • Strange how they can find five available women harpists, but only one available woman among the 63 positions in the winds and percussion.

          • William, it’s not strange. First they have to have a vacancy and then find a suitable candidate from among the top ranked German orchestras, and then the candidate has to accept. Each of these limits the possibilities. First of all the winds are relatively young as a group, so relatively few vacancies come up, second, their pool is limited by the status quo in German orchestras, where the ratio is not good enough, but getting better, and third, despite this, they have indeed offered positions to women candidates, multiple times, but have, to date, not been eager to accept. This is not surprising as many men who have been invited, indeed the majority, turn down the invitation. It’s just not everybody’s cup of tea.

          • The 63 to 1 ratio cannot be explained by women turning down initiations or being uninterested. The cause is sexism. Also, we need *documented* information about how many women have turned down invitations. Hearsay is inadequate, especially under such suspicious circumstances.

            It’s true that the sexism in Bayreuth is a reflection of the sexist status quo, and its legacy, in German orchestras. The ratios in the BFO are even lower, because membership by invitation allows for an even greater level of sexism.

  19. Theodore McGuiver says:

    Another note to PJ, above:

    Thanks for the reply. Don’t misunderstand me; my reference to ‘no guarantee of improvement’ referred to the idea of standing these institutions’ recruitment processes on their heads and imposing quotas without any consideration of who may be the best candidate for any given position. The better candidate will sometimes be a man, sometimes a woman. To sideline this truth in the interest of a numbers game can only be prejudicial to the music. We are all aware of, and, I would imagine, support freer, fairer selection processes, but let’s not put the cart before the horse but try to intelligently steer the process to what it should be: that the best player gets the job.

  20. Michael Fischer says:

    Who is to decide what “genuine fairness” is? Was VPO genuinly “fair” when booking female violin soloists only? A let of damage has been done by “fairness” and “justice” in history and now. One of the biggest “users” of “fairness” and “justice” in the past was: J. Goebbels. With “fairness” and “justice” you can manipulate most people into most goals. What are “fair” and “just” fees? Or ticket prices? You name it.
    The obvious is rarely the right.

    • Gerhard says:

      Well, I certainly can’t answer your question fully. But it seems to me that an indispensable prerequisite for a fair auditioning process is that nobody, the people who decide included, knows at its beginning who is going to win. This obviously rules out any quota about gender as well as far as a desired result is concerned. So if we want to maintain the goal of fairness in such a procedure, we will have to live with the fact that change needs time, sometimes less and sometimes more. Some of us are ready to accept this, and others aren’t. Anyway, if one is demanding equality not of chances but of orchestra positions here and now, the concept of fairness is applied rather as a measure of sociostatistics than as a human quality in a job selection process. One has to decide where and how one wants to see fairness applied.

      • The 63 to 1 ratio in the winds and percussion shows they are hiring on the basis of gender, not quality. They need less focus on male oriented “sociostatistics” and more focus on quality and fairness.

        • Theodore McGuiver says:

          Sadly, William, you seem to be interested only in repeating your own incantations and not actually engaging in any real discussion with others. We understand you don’t agree with the 63 to 1 statistic but until someone drops out there’s precious little anyone can do. What if the best replacement for any future vacancy were a man? What would you do, then?

          • The best person should get the job, but the 63 to 1 ratio in the winds shows that’s not happening. On average, the representation of women in top orchestras increases by about 0.79% per year. In 5 years that would come to about a 4% increase.

            Bayreuth has a fairly high turnover, so the rate of increase for women in the orchestra should be a bit higher than 0.79% per year. If women were at 18 or 19% in 5 years (up from the current 12%) that would be in line with normal growth rates.

            Since membership is by invitation, the BFO could do even better if it wanted. Between 2005 and 2009, for example, the Gürzenich Orchester in Köln increased by almost 2.5% per year, over 3 times the international rate.

            Favoring men has been the practice for the last 5 decades and will likely continue for years in the BFO. By contrast, favoring women to redress pass discrimination would be seen as an outrage and not be tolerated. Sexism always has a double standard.

  21. Hasbeen says:

    Mr Fischer please don’t bring the Nazis into this already tedious discussion.

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