Announcing the Second Annual Women in Classical Music Symposium

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Announces Second Annual Women in Classical Music Symposium
November 8-11, 2020

Sponsored by
Billingsley Company

Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas


Hilary Hahn
Three-Time GRAMMY® Award Winning Violinist and Innovator


Deborah Borda
New York Philharmonic President and CEO


Katherine Balch


Registration Now Open at

Dallas, Texas (May 6, 2020) – The Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) announced today the programming and guests for the second annual Women in Classical Music Symposium. This intensive and comprehensive symposium, sponsored by Billingsley Company, will be held November 8-11, 2020, in Dallas, with featured talks and panel discussions on topics relevant to women in the classical music industry and their unique struggles and triumphs.

The event will also include important networking opportunities with pathways for discussions and conversations relevant to individuals in all roles of classical music – orchestra members, soloists, composers, conductors and administrators – and at all stages of careers. During the symposium, the DSO will present concerts led by Marin Alsop and featuring violin soloist Hilary Hahn as part of its Texas Instruments Classical Series. Additional support for the symposium was provided by Texas Women’s Foundation, Joanne Bober and Yon Jorden. This event is presented as part of the DSO’s extensive Women in Classical Music initiative, which is supported in part by Capital One, The Eugene McDermott Foundation and Martha Wells.

“While the current circumstances keep us from being together, we are working hard to prepare for this much-anticipated fall event and ensure our attendees have a great experience, whether that is in person or virtually,” said Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony.

Topics for this year’s Symposium include “Breaking Barriers – Women in Classical Music,” “Motherhood and Music – Women as Caregivers,” “DEI: Transforming (presented by Laura Colgate & Joy-Leilani Garbutt, Co-Founders, Boulanger Initiative) and “Music and Wellness.” Returning this year, the popular Mentorship Speed Dating session allows attendees to make meaningful connections and was a favorite event during the inaugural Symposium.

New panelists this year include Marie-Hélène Bernard, President and CEO, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, Founder and Chief Director, Center for BrainHealth®, The University of Texas at Dallas; Afa Dworkin, President and Artistic Director, Sphinx Organization; and Chad Smith, CEO, LA Philharmonic. Returning guests include Zenetta Drew, Executive Director, Dallas Black Dance Theatre; Fleurette Fernando, Director, MA Program in Arts Leadership, University of Houston; Alecia Lawyer, Founder and Artistic Director, ROCO; and Jessie Montgomery, Composer, Violinist and Educator. This year’s symposium will give further voice to professional musicians on panels and in breakout sessions.

Musicians participating include Ryan Anthony, DSO Principal Trumpet Emeritus (Diane & Hal Brierley Chair); Erin Hannigan, DSO Principal Oboe (Nancy P. & John G. Penson Chair); Angela Fuller Heyde, DSO Principal Second Violin (Barbara K. & Seymour R. Thum Chair); Haley Hoops, DSO Horn (Becky & Brad Todd Chair); Meredith Kufchak, DSO Principal Viola (Hortense & Lawrence S. Pollock Chair); and Karen Schnackenberg, DSO Principal Librarian.

Registration for the Symposium is now open at Early registration is $90 with the fee increasing to $150 on July 1. Admission includes all panels as well as coffee hours, the keynote lunch, one dinner and receptions. Financial aid is available for those who complete an online application.

“The first symposium was a great success, we all learned so much, and we look forward to building on last year’s conference,” said Noltemy. “As we know, there is still much work to be done, and the DSO is committed to doing its part to pave a path to success for women in the industry.”

“Even in uncertain times, music – especially classical music – has the unique ability to lift spirits and create connections between people,” said Sanjiv Yajnik, Chairman of the Dallas Symphony Association Board of Governors. "In this unique time, the DSO’s mission to inspire and change lives through musical excellence matters more than ever. It is particularly important that we continue to make progress in closing the gender gap in prominent roles in classical music by opening pathways to success and inspiring future generations of women to pursue the arts.”

“Of course women in music have unlimited potential! It is a delight for Billingsley Co. to play a small role in leveraging all the creativity that will explode when these great talents come together,” said Lucy Billingsley. “I could not have more pride in the Dallas Symphony as they lead the nation in shining the spotlight on the important careers and contribution these women have made and will make to classical music.”

This year, the DSO will honor three extraordinary women for their work in the field. Violinist Hilary Hahn will receive the Award of Excellence for decades of musical innovation and performance. A three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning violinist guided by artistic curiosity, Hahn matches expressive musicality and technical expertise with a diverse repertoire. She is a prolific recording artist and commissioner of new works with a barrier-breaking attitude toward classical music and a commitment to sharing her experiences with the global community.

Hahn has nominated composer Katherine Balch to receive this year’s Career Advancement Award which will be presented at the conference. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as "breathtakingly beautiful” and “some kind of musical Thomas Edison — you can just hear her tinkering around in her workshop, putting together new sounds and textural ideas," Balch’s music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles including the Tokyo, Albany, Oregon, Indianapolis and Minnesota Symphony Orchestras, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the London Sinfonietta and the Argus Quartet. She recently completed her three-year tenure as composer-in-residence with the California Symphony and is managed by Young Concert Artists, where she was the 2017-2019 composer-in-residence. She is currently on faculty at Mannes School of Music, while pursuing her D.M.A. at Columbia University.

Long-time orchestra executive and current President and CEO of the New York Philharmonic, Deborah Borda will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Throughout her distinguished career, Borda has been an inspirational leader, extending and expanding the artistic and technological boundaries of American symphony orchestras. She has championed and mentored many in the industry, from countless administrators to women composers and conductors, all of whom have benefitted from her counsel and action.

More than 250 attendees gathered in Dallas for the first symposium in November 2019. Across four days of meetings, panels and events, industry leaders and up-and-coming arts professionals assembled to discuss an array of topics related to education opportunities, equity, employability and career journeys in the field.  Participants remarked on the openness and value of the first event.

Several attendees commented about their experience. “After meeting women from all stages of their career I have a better picture of what the reality of the industry looks like,” said one participant. “The symposium broke down the silos of generations,” another noted. “I have never experienced people being so generous and candid with their advice.”

About the Dallas Symphony Orchestra
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, under the leadership of Music Director Designate Fabio Luisi, presents the finest in orchestral music at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, regarded as one of the world's premier concert halls. As the largest performing arts organization in the Southwest, the DSO is committed to inspiring the broadest possible audience with distinctive classical programs, inventive pops concerts and innovative multi-media presentations. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the orchestra reaches more than 243,000 adults and children through performances, educational programs and community outreach initiatives annually. The DSO’s involvement with the City of Dallas and the surrounding region includes an award-winning multi-faceted educational program, community projects, popular parks concerts and youth programming.

The DSO has a tradition dating back to 1900 and is a cornerstone of the unique, 68-acre Arts District in Downtown Dallas that is home to multiple performing arts venues, museums and parks; the largest district of its kind in the nation. The DSO is supported, in part, by funds from the Office of Cultural Affairs, City of Dallas.

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