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Stephen  Fine

Royal Concertgebouw... all men?

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quote:

Originally posted by lwl:

Vienna is an all-boys club because it has chosen to stay that way for reasons of tradition that have nothing whatsoever to do with logic. If they were basing things purely on merit and wanted to go single-sex, perhaps they should become an all-female orchestra.
crazy.gif
Seems like most of the folks winning major orchestral posts these days are women, at least in the USA.

[This message has been edited by lwl (edited 11-28-2001).]

Can you name ONE female concertmaster (concertmistress) of any major american symphony orchestra besides Cecylia Arzewski (Atlanta)?

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My understanding about the all-male tradition at the Vienna Philharmonic is that it is part of a cluster of "traditions" they adhere to, supposedly to help them to maintain their unique sound. Among other things, this has included hiring mostly players from certain schools/teachers, especially in the string sections. I don't know if they refuse to consider women as an explicit policy, or if they just HAPPEN to have never found a satisfactory woman to hire ...

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quote:

Originally posted by crystal:

How can you possibly be offended at what I've said? I haven't said that this is always the case, or it evens happens to half of the players in any situation. Whether you like it or agree with it or not, it IS the truth that SOME people have trouble in this area.

I suppose I find offensive the concept that women should be barred from doing anything simply because the men who are already in those positions supposedly aren't mature enough to handle dealing with women in the workplace -- which is really what the whole "romance disrupting everything" argument boils down to. I'm all in favor of forcing men like that to grow up, frankly.

By the way: I'll believe that Vienna can't find a suitable woman when they start doing auditions behind a curtain. (Did you see that study -- English, I think -- about the differences in audition responses from judges who did and didn't see female candidates? Very interesting -- the women behind curtains made out overwhelmingly better.)

I'm not familiar enough with the concertmasters of the major symphony orchestras, unfortunately.

The new concertmaster of the National Symphony (Washington DC) is a woman; she was previously the assistant concertmaster of Boston.

There are quite a few female assistant/associate concertmasters out there, as well -- Sheryl Staples of New York is a good example. So is Nadya Tichman of San Francisco (who was acting concertmaster for quite a while, during the several years that passed between Raymond Kobler's departure and the arrival of Alexander Barantschik this season). I would guess that most major symphonies, at this point, have at least one woman holding a titled chair.

Concertmaster positions in major symphonies turn over very rarely -- no doubt as time goes on we'll be seeing more women in that leader's seat.

[This message has been edited by lwl (edited 11-28-2001).]

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quote:

Originally posted by iupviolin:

Can you name ONE female concertmaster (concertmistress) of any major american symphony orchestra besides Cecylia Arzewski (Atlanta)?

Sure Nurit Bar-Josef of National Symphony Orchestra just earned her concertmaster seat half year ago after her position as assistant concertmaster seat with Boston Philharmonic. Sharyl Staples of New York Philharmonic is assistant or associate concertmaster of NY Phil. There is a DePasquale (i forget her first name) in Cleveland Orchestra who also holds second or third chair in first violin section.

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quote:

Originally posted by iupviolin:

If the Florida orchestra is like this than there are 2 female concertmistresses in America

I believe the term concertmistress is not a politically correct term as it has connontation of referring to women as lesser being than men. " a : a woman other than his wife with whom a married man has a continuing sexual relationship b archaic " as defined by Merriam Webster dictionary. besides meaning women has power and authority. Because the word has double and rather contradicting meanings, the term "concertmistress" is considered politically wrong and should not be used.

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quote:

Originally posted by fritzdaviolinist:

I believe the term concertmistress is not a politically correct term as it has connontation of referring to women as lesser being than men. " a : a woman other than his wife with whom a married man has a continuing sexual relationship b archaic " as defined by Merriam Webster dictionary. besides meaning women has power and authority. Because the word has double and rather contradicting meanings, the term "concertmistress" is considered politically wrong and should not be used.

I will not stop using the term concertmistress. It is the feminine form of the term that is used by many professionals. If this offends you I feel sorry fo you... crazy.gif

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There are waiters and waitresses... not servers. There are actors and actresses... There are concertmasters and concertmistresses... I'm all for political correctness, but it's just a word. There IS no connotation that means I shouldn't use it. Now... if we were to call them the "Mistress of the Orchestra"... perhaps.

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quote:

Originally posted by lwl:

I suppose I find offensive the concept that women should be barred from doing anything simply because the men who are already in those positions supposedly aren't mature enough to handle dealing with women in the workplace

[This message has been edited by lwl (edited 11-28-2001).]

Lydia:

Well then there's your problem right there. You somehow didn't read my very clearly written, thoughtful responses, that I wrote.

I am not in favor of barring women from anything, as I stated in my first and second post. What I did say is that because we now have these freedoms, the freedoms that women can venture beyond the kitchen and "play" with the big boys,work the same jobs, play the same sports, etc, etc, we are required to taken even more care of how we handle ourselves with these freedoms. Both sexes.

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quote:

Originally posted by fritzdaviolinist:

Originally posted by iupviolin:

Can you name ONE female concertmaster (concertmistress) of any major american symphony orchestra besides Cecylia Arzewski (Atlanta)?

Sure Nurit Bar-Josef of National Symphony Orchestra just earned her concertmaster seat half year ago after her position as assistant concertmaster seat with Boston Philharmonic. Sharyl Staples of New York Philharmonic is assistant or associate concertmaster of NY Phil. There is a DePasquale (i forget her first name) in Cleveland Orchestra who also holds second or third chair in first violin section.

Jorja Fleezanis (Minnesota, formerly San Francisco) is one of the finest concertmasters around.

[This message has been edited by SteveLaBonne (edited 11-28-2001).]

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umm....I agree with Lydia....I was beginning to find the direction this thread was taking to be somewhat uncomfortable, if not offensive. People (maybe not just men, but probably more often men) have been using the excuse of women's irresistable attraction/men's weakness in the face of that attraction to keep women out of all kinds of different workplaces and other settings for far too long. Isn't it time to move beyond that kind of thinking? Look at the Taliban regime if you want to see the excuse of "woman as temptress/man as weak" taken to the extreme. (*shudder*)

stepping off the soapbox now...

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crystal,

I just re-read your earlier posts, and I can't say that I interpret them any differently now from when I first read them.

You seem to be saying that a set of issues exist, and you understand why the Vienna is doing what it's doing and you think it makes their home lives easier. Even though you don't believe that it's right, you believe the stance is defensible.

I disagree with both your premises and your conclusions. The key part of that is that I don't find the stance reasonable or defensible.

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Ooh, a cat fight! I never thought I'd see it here! Can we please move on? I think the world is flat, I have proof! You can tell me that its round all you want, but I know that you're wrong!

Understand?

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quote:

Originally posted by iupviolin:

Ooh, a cat fight! I never thought I'd see it here!

Dear iupviolin:

You're not seeing a cat fight now. Lydia and I sometimes agree and sometimes do not, just as many discussions about many different things go on on this board and not everyone agrees. It's funny that a few people seem to view this thread as an argument or something. I think it's just been interesting discussion.

If it's argument you're looking for, try searching the files on modern violinists! Whew....

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Oh, please, iupviolin. This isn't a cat-fight. Lord knows a "fight" breaks out on this Board every other Thursday and they're petty as **** , but this isn't one of them. Sounds to me like it's a debate between 2 modes of thinking -- the very same debate that has dominated professional (and other) circles for quite some time now, and continues to this day.

Lydia and Samira: I am behind what you say 100%.

Sexual tension exists everywhere, people! Not just in orchestras. It's natural, it's healthy, and the ensuing discomfort it occasionally creates should be dealt with no matter where you work. People already have to a large extent, adaptable creatures that we are, and we will continue to do so. (The last 20 years will easily provide at least 2,000 examples.)

Also, the idea that music-making is somehow more prone to intimacy belongs right up there with all the other self-absorbed musical crap I've heard this past week. I'm normally all for attributing magical qualities to music, but...come on! Couple-formation, flirtation, tension -- all that wonderful stuff that ensures we have a pulse -- is part of a game that will go on forever in ALL workplaces, including such "un-sexy" places where I work (affordable housing). And the intimacy that comes from a small group (like chamber music) also exists everywhere: it's akin to what you'd find when a few people are put on a long-term "team" of sorts and handles one project. So I don't buy the distinction between any musical setting, chamber or otherwise, and your typical workplace.

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I'd like to add my admiration for the way Crystal and lwl are handling their disagreement. It looks like an interesting, heated discussion to me, not a fight. The very term "catfight" is sexist and pointless, by the way.

Speaking of sexism and feminine forms of professions, many females who act refer to themselves as actors now, and that is the trend with other terms such as concermaster, server (rather than waitress), air attendant (rather than stewardess), etc. Maybe we should just use the British term "leader" for our 1st chair violinists. smile.gif

Women are taking their rightful place in leadership roles in orchestras, alongside men. Thank goodness.

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Crystal: just saw your post after I posted my own, and I'm glad you see it that way (as I do), so this next one's for you...

I don't disagree with you on the point that members of both sexes need to handle themselves well in professional situations. But that's not the way this thought originally came across. Your original comment, and allow me to quote, was: "...it's no secret that having a female in a group of guys, CAN cause trouble." The way you phrased it, despite your intended meaning, didn't exactly come across as simply denoting sexual tension in mixed groups or the changed behavior of men in a mixed setting.

Imagine someone saying something like: "I know, from years of experience, that white people act differently when a black person joins the orchestra, and the tension CAN cause trouble" and you might see what I mean. I don't think you're sexist or that you think women shouldn't have equal access to orchestras, but the way you phrased your thoughts -- a sort of blanket statement -- hit on a nerve precisely because it summons up that sort of sentiment, which is probably why it was interpreted (unjustly, perhaps; that's a judgment call) as offensive.

But, more to the point, you might want to question if this "trouble" you speak of is really that. It seems to me this sort of "trouble" has (thankfully!) always existed, and that it's simply a matter of not having your workplace be exactly as it was 12 years ago. It's also a matter of just being human and about life. Life is all about change, whether initiated by women or something/somebody else.

And one final point before I get off my high-horse.. wink.gif :

I wasn't sure why you felt you needed to be somehow "qualified" or knowledgeable about the gay community in order to see the analogy that blee was trying to illustrate. The point is that the "sexual tension" stuff is there regardless of whether it's a mixed group or not, but people clearly deal with it. Segregation by gender only makes sense when everybody in the group is heterosexual (and, believe you me, they ain't). In other words, you'll have the "trouble" you find so, well, troubling, no matter what. At least I think that's what blee was saying.

Respectfully,

Zoey

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quote:

Originally posted by bleeviola:

I'd like to add my admiration for the way Crystal and lwl are handling their disagreement.

Kudos from me as well. This strikes me as a difference of opinion -- and an intellectually stimulating one at that -- not a vicious battle, which is more than I can say for some of the stuff I've read on this Board. (I usually avoid threads with the words "modern violinist" like the plague!) wink.gif

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Speaking as the party who first fingered the Vienna boys in this thread, I would like to add another 2 cents worth.

I think Zoey has made an important point in her most recent post. Take the arguments advanced by the Vienna Phil boys when this debate first hit the papers a few years ago -- "our homogeneity is important to our sound," "we are entitled to stick by our traditions," "tensions would ensue, and destroy our fraternal bonhomie," etc. Now go the the library and look up the newspapers from the year (I believe it was 1947) that the U.S. armed forces were officially integrated. The arguments advanced against integrating the services were exactly the same. They were not accepted then, and would be treated with derision if they were resurrected today.

Why should women be obliged to put up with this kind of cr*p, when they aren't even a minority?

In my view, the continued success of the women's lib movement, and the resourceful and gutsy way their objectives have been pursued, is one of the few political/social events to have occurred in my lifetime to give any cause for optimism about the future of our democracy.

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Addressing the question of women in the professions and their "tendency" to quit when they get married or have children:

When the workplace first really became available to women in a somewhat equal basis to men during the mid-20th century, women tried to "do it all" -- have a career and a family, as well. This let to the latchkey kid era, and from there, to the present day. Today, the younger generation understands the importance of balancing a career and family and household responsibilities -- but they no longer believe it should be the woman's responsibility. Rather, today there's the concept that these duties are shared. Quite a few people *do* make the decision, in previous decades as well as now, for one partner to stop working or at least scale back on their career, in order to devote more attention to the children. In the past, this was almost always the woman; in the present, it's becoming more and more commonplace to find men being the more "domestic" half.

Previously, it made more sense for the woman to give up her career, because it was highly probable that her income was less than the man's. Today, while there is still definitely pay inequality between men and women (even between those working the same jobs), it's no longer a given that the husband will make more than the wife. Consequently from a financial perspective it will often make more sense for the husband to be the stay-at-home.

In an orchestra, of course, the "women are more likely to quit" argument makes a lot less sense than it does in many other professions. Because of standardized salaries, female players are likely to be just as well paid as their male counterparts. Furthermore, there's no real reason why they should be any less devoted to their careers -- in a major symphony, they have endured a lifetime of grueling training, competed hard to get the positions they occupy, and are fairly unlikely to want to give it up!

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quote:

Originally posted by lwl:

perhaps they should become an all-female orchestra.
crazy.gif
[This message has been edited by lwl (edited 11-28-2001).]

Thank you for so elegantly proving one of my points, that it is quite common for people to state that what is bad for the goose is good for the gander.

I can think of a few quite practical reasons for having a single gender organization, which for exposition purposes we will assume is male.

1. Uniformity of appearance in concert. One tux looks about like any other tux but I have yet to see two women wear the same outfit to a performance.

2. Only one dressing room required.

3. All combinations of roommates for traveling accommodations are appropriate.

I find it interesting that several people have reverted to using stereotypes to buttress their arguements. Namely that all romantic/sexual problems, especially those in the workplace, are all caused by males. Which is not true and thus is a fallacious point.

Wishful thinking is not going to eliminate one of our most basic behaviors. Sure we have training and customs to control, suppress or sublimate the sexual dynamic but it is there and will always be there.

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quote:

Originally posted by Zoey:

And one final point before I get off my high-horse..
wink.gif
:

I wasn't sure why you felt you needed to be somehow "qualified" or knowledgeable about the gay community in order to see the analogy that blee was trying to illustrate.

The reason for qualifying my comments on the gay community, is exactly for this reason. Somehow, no matter what I say or mean, someone will take offense. I do not feel qualified to make presumptions about the gay community, only to say that I think that their attractions would be no different than heterosexuals.

And one more note for clarification, I do not know the reason that the Royal Concertgebouw is all men. I am guessing that if the real truth came out, this would be one of the core reasons.

Why do you think there were originally all boy and all girl schools? Because the presence of the opposite sex is a distraction. Yes, as adults we are supposed to be acting more mature than school children, but some do not.

I think women should be allowed to play in orchestras with men, no diffferently than they work in any other situations with men. I am not in support of keeping women out of anything.

I just realize the dangers that exist if you get careless.

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This is what come from trying to work and write and post at the same time. smile.gif Someone, in this case Zoey, makes the same points in a much nicer way.

K545, the cases are slightly different in that skin color differences are superficial but there are some significant structural, biochemical and neurological differences between the sexes. If you check a little deeper using your Army example training regimens didn't change after racial integration but they did change after gender integration.

lwl, my standard answer to discussions espousing some new twist on human relationships, is if this is such a good idea how come we haven't been doing it before. Considering that pretty much every variation in relationships has been throughly explored, time and again for thousands of years, I am somewhat leery of believing that our society has come up with some radical new improvement. In relationships that just isn't much new under the sun.

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