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arts

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Conductors  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  

Kay Gardner (b. 1941) entered the world of classical music as a flutist, but from a young age aspired to orchestral conducting. Keen to the challenges that women face in such a traditional field, she declared, "Conducting, especially orchestral conducting, is the last stronghold of the musical patriarchy."

Her early career involved researching and playing in women's folk music, and even though she married in 1960 and had two children, she remained interested in women's music and community, both folk and classical. In the late 1960s, she formed her own chamber orchestra, and eventually left her husband to pursue her musical studies full time at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

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In the early 1970s she became active in Lavender Jane, a radical feminist music group, while she continued to work on her degree. In 1973 she helped produce the first openly lesbian classical LP called Lavender Jane Loves Women.

In 1977 she decided to pursue her dream of conducting and moved to Denver, Colorado, to study under Maestra Antonia Brico. In 1978 she co-founded the New England Women's Symphony and became its principal conductor. The symphony lasted only briefly, but its commitment to showcasing and supporting women composers and conductors had a powerful impact on the growing role of women in classical music.

Since then, Gardner has grown less interested in conducting traditional classical music and has focused more of her time on conducting her own work and using her influence as a conductor to support other female musicians.

Conductor, teacher, and administrator Jon Reed Sims (1947-1984) is best known for his work in founding a number of gay and lesbian music organizations in the late 1970s, including the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the Golden Gate Performing Arts, the orchestra Lambda Pro Musica, and the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Chorus. His contributions to building gay and lesbian musical networks are regarded as fundamental to the creation of post-Stonewall gay communities in the United States.

In the more traditional world of classical music, English conductor Jeffrey Tate (b. 1943) has achieved an impressive career in conducting, even though he started relatively late. Despite his passion for music as a child and young adult, he initially chose not to pursue it professionally. Instead he completed his doctorate in medicine, qualifying as an eye surgeon at London's St. Thomas's Hospital.

In 1970, though, he took the répétiteur's course at the London Opera Centre, where he worked as a type of conductor's understudy, teaching the main conductor's interpretation of a work to individual singers. A year later, he joined the staff of Covent Garden Opera and over the next six years worked with conductors Carlos Kleiber, Sir Colin Davis, and Sir George Solti. He has also assisted Herbert von Karajan, James Levine, and John Pritchard.

Tate made his conducting debut in 1978 with Carmen at the Göteborg Opera in Sweden. Since then he has risen steadily in the conducting world, despite being born with spina bifida occulta and a two-way curvature of the spine. Tate has never allowed his condition, which requires him to sit while conducting, to interfere with his work, but in recent years he has acknowledged that he has to pace himself more carefully as he grows older.

Tate is best known for his work on operas by Mozart, Strauss, and Wagner, as well as with Mozart symphonies. Over the course of his career he has held numerous positions and made well-respected recordings. In 1985, Tate became the principal conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra, and starting in 1986, he was principal conductor at Covent Garden for five years. In 1989, he also became principal guest conductor of the French Orchestre National.

One of the few openly gay conductors on the international scene, Tate has spoken openly in interviews about his partner, Klaus Kuhlemann, a German geologist, whom he met in 1978 in Cologne, when he was at the Cologne Opera.

Considered by some in the music industry to be somewhat of a maverick, Michael Tilson Thomas (b. 1944) has had a notably successful classical music career, as pianist, conductor, and, lately, composer. He became assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at 25 in 1969. Subsequently, he held positions as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

In 1995, he assumed his current position as music director of the San Francisco Symphony. In this role, he has commissioned a number of important works by openly gay composers, including Lou Harrison and David Del Tredici.

Tilson Thomas's support of Del Tredici allowed the composer to create "Gay Life," a series of pieces based on poems by Allen Ginsberg, Thom Gunn, and Paul Monette. In so doing, the composer and the conductor have helped broaden the range of classical music by allowing it to address explicitly gay issues and gay lives in music.

Geoffrey W. Bateman

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   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  Choruses and Bands

Since they were first established in the 1970s, lesbian and gay musical organizations have grown remarkably in number, size, and sophistication.

arts >> Overview:  Music: Classical

Classical music is an important component of Western culture to which glbt people have contributed significantly.

arts >> Overview:  Music: Women's

Stylistically diverse and continually evolving, women's music has broadened over time, but it remains committed to lesbian visibility and feminist values.

arts >> Overview:  Opera

Opera, an eclectic synthesis of voice, drama, music, costume, visual arts and spectacle, has played an integral role in queer culture since its development in seventeenth century Venice.

arts >> Barber, Samuel

Despite the spectacular failure of his opera Antony and Cleopatra, American composer Samuel Barber made an enduring contribution to the cultural life of the United States and the world.

arts >> Bernstein, Leonard

For most of his life, the specter of the closet lurked threateningly behind the glamorous and often brash public image of American composer Leonard Bernstein.

arts >> Copland, Aaron

Despite his outsider status as a Jewish homosexual, Aaron Copland composed a significant number of musical works that embody the idea of American history, struggle, and courage.

arts >> Del Tredici, David

Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer and pianist David Del Tredici, known for his famous "Alice" works and neo-Romantic style, has also written music concerned with gay experience.

arts >> Diamond, David

One of the leading American composers of the twentieth century, David Diamond created music that is melodic and lyrical even as it jumps with modern energy.

literature >> Ginsberg, Allen

The forthrightly gay Allen Ginsberg is probably the best-known American poet to emerge in the post-World War II period.

literature >> Gunn, Thom

The Anglo-American writer Thom Gunn was a major gay poet and a perceptive critic of gay poetry.

arts >> Harrison, Lou

One of America's most original and articulate composers, Lou Harrison is particularly well known for his use of instruments from the East and his melodic and lyrical style.

arts >> Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen, a German Benedictine abbess, mystic, scientific and theological writer, dramatist, and composer, formed a strong emotional attachment to a young nun and wrote music that expresses physical and spiritual desire for the Virgin Mary.

arts >> Hough, Stephen

The British concert pianist Stephen Hough is among the most talented and most highly acclaimed classical musicians of his generation.

arts >> Lully, Jean-Baptiste

Seventeenth-century composer Jean Baptiste Lully established the basic principles of French opera, but his career declined as the result of a homosexual scandal.

arts >> Menotti, Gian Carlo

One of the leading classical composers of the twentieth century, Gian Carlo Menotti not only had a distinguished career, but also achieved acclaim at a time when his uncloseted homosexuality could have been a major barrier.

arts >> Mitropoulos, Dimitri

Conductor and composer Dimitri Mitropoulos achieved great success in the world of classical music, but was yet another victim of McCarthy-era homophobia.

literature >> Monette, Paul

In novels, poetry, and a memoir, Paul Monette wrote about gay men striving to fashion personal identities and, later, coping with the loss of a lover to AIDS.

arts >> Smyth, Dame Ethel

The most important female composer in early twentieth-century English music, Dame Ethel Smyth enjoyed a class privilege that allowed her to be an unapologetic lesbian.

arts >> Stiers, David Ogden

Best known to television viewers for his role as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III on the series M*A*S*H, David Ogden Stiers has had a long and successful career.

arts >> Tilson Thomas, Michael

One of the most prominent American conductors of his generation, Michael Tilson Thomas may be the first gay conductor to achieve such eminence without masking his sexuality.


    Bibliography
   

Blackmer, Corinne E., and Patricia Juliana Smith, eds. En Travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

Brett, Phillip, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, eds. Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. New York: Routledge, 1994.

Burton, Humphrey. Leonard Bernstein. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

But I Was a Girl (Maar Ik Was Een Meisje). Videotape. Dir. Toni Boumans. Interview with Frieda Belinfante by Klaus Müller. Frame Media Productions, 1999. 69 min.

Galkin, Elliott W. A History of Orchestral Conducting. New York: Pendragon Press, 1988.

Holsinger, Bruce Wood. "The Flesh of the Voice: Embodiment and the Homoerotics of Devotion in the Music of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)." Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society 19 (1993): 91-125.

Jackson, Barbara Garvey. "Musical Women of the 17th and 18th Centuries." Women and Music: A History. Karin Pendle, ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. 54-94.

Lebrecht, Norman. The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power. New York: Birch Lane Press, 1991.

LePage, Jane Weiner. "Kay Gardner." Women Composers, Conductors, and Musicians of the Twentieth Century. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1983. 92-117.

Pollack, Howard. Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1999.

Schuller, Gunther. The Compleat Conductor. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Schwarz, Robert K. "Cracking the Classical Closet." The Advocate (May 11, 1999): 48-49.

Secrest, Meryle. Leonard Bernstein: A Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.

"Sims, John." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. New York: Schirmer/Macmillan, 1992. 1263.

Solie, Ruth A. Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Trotter, William. "Mitropoulos, Dmitri." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2nd ed. Stanley Sadie, ed. New York: Macmillan, 2001. 16:764.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Bateman, Geoffrey W.  
    Entry Title: Conductors  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated September 8, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/conductors.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
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    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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