Dallas Symphony Orchestra Announces Inaugural Women in Classical Music Symposium

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Announces Inaugural

Women in Classical Music Symposium

Sponsored by

November 6-9, 2019

Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas


Soprano Dawn Upshaw

Inaugural Recipient of the Dallas Symphony’s Women in Classical Music Award

Registration Now Open at mydso.com/women



Dallas, Texas (April 24, 2019) – The Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) announced today the programming and guests for the inaugural Women in Classical Music Symposium. This intensive and comprehensive symposium, sponsored by J.P. Morgan, held November 6-9, 2019, in Dallas, Texas, will feature talks, a public keynote presentation 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 and performances and will appeal to individuals in all roles of classical music – orchestra members, soloists, composers, conductors and administrators – with pathways for conversation and discussion.

The DSO has established an award to honor individuals who are creating pathways to lift up the next generation of women and who demonstrate excellence in the field. American soprano Dawn Upshaw is the inaugural winner of the Dallas Symphony’s Women in Classical Music Award. Upshaw has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today. Her ability to reach to the heart of music and text has earned her both the devotion of an exceptionally diverse audience and the awards and distinctions accorded to only the most distinguished of artists. In 2007, she was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year “genius” prize, and in 2008, she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. A five-time GRAMMY® Award-winner, Upshaw has collaborated with the most important composers of today, premiering more than 30 works by artists including John Adams, Henri Dutilleux, Osvaldo Golijov and jazz artist Maria Schneider, whose Winter Morning Walks won Upshaw her most recent GRAMMY®. She is dedicated to furthering the achievements of young performers and leads the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard College Conservatory of Music and is head of the Vocal Arts Program at The Tanglewood Music Center. The inaugural presentation of the award will take place on the first day of the symposium.

"I am deeply honored to be the first recipient of this award at the Dallas Symphony's Women in Classical Music Symposium,” said Upshaw.  “It has become clear to me, especially in the last decade, that I, myself, want to do more to better focus my attention and choices on work created by women.  Therefore, I am intrigued by this new initiative from the Dallas Symphony, and I am truly humbled that they have chosen me for this award."

“Though we are definitely seeing strides in the leadership roles of women in classical music, the representation of women on the conductor’s podium and as regularly commissioned composers must improve,” said Kim Noltemy, President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. “We are committing to a sustained effort to make changes to the industry to provide increased opportunities for women to succeed in the classical music business. Now is the time to make this happen.”

"While there continues to be a gender gap, more women are rising to prominent roles in classical music – on the podium, in the ensemble and behind the scenes,” said Sanjiv Yajnik, Chairman of the Dallas Symphony Association Board of Governors. “Our goal is that efforts such as these open up more pathways for future generations of women and inspire them to take up the arts, particularly classical music.”

“This is important work that the Dallas Symphony is doing,” said Music Director Designate Fabio Luisi. “Change comes from making opportunities and not being satisfied with the status quo. We will see a real impact in the entire classical music world from what we are starting here in Dallas.”

“J.P. Morgan is proud to be a longtime supporter the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, a vital part of the cultural mosaic that makes our city a better place to live and work,” said Pete Chilian, Head of the Dallas Region for J.P. Morgan’s Private Banking unit. “The arts inspire us to envision a better, more harmonious future for all. This symposium will be an important statement about what a better future would look like.”

Each day of the symposium will focus on a specific topic of discussion.

  • Day One: “Changing the Script: Women in Classical Music” will include discussions on empowering decision makers, creating opportunities and the importance of role models.
  • Day Two: “Pathways for Change” will focus on creating pathways toward professional opportunities and will also include discussions on self-entrepreneurship for musicians.
  • Day Three: “Practical Next Steps” will explore employability and career pathway development for musicians and administrators.
  • Day Four: The final day of event will be presented in connection with The Dallas Opera’s Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors.

Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with the panelists and with each other during the symposium. Each session includes interactive time designed to further stimulate discussion and dig in to specific questions. Multiple receptions and networking opportunities, including an event designed to foster mentor/mentee relationships, are built in to the symposium.

Panelists and moderators are:

  • Elaine Agather, Chairman, J.P. Morgan’s Dallas region
  • Anastasia Boudanoque, Founder and Managing Director, Primavera Consulting and Producer, Forte film
  • Roslyn Dawson Thompson, President and CEO, Texas Women’s Foundation
  • Zenetta Drew, Executive Director, Dallas Black Dance Theatre
  • Susan Etheredge, Dean of the College and Vice President for Campus Life, Smith College
  • Fleurette S. Fernando, Director, MA Program in Arts Leadership, University of Houston
  • Salina Fisher, New Zealand Composer
  • Cathy Hernandez, Executive Director, Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
  • Ellen Highstein, Director, The Tanglewood Music Center
  • Alecia Lawyer, Founder, Artistic Director and Oboist, ROCO
  • Charlotte Lee, President & Founder, Primo Artists
  • Emily Levin, Artistic Director, Fine Arts Chamber Players and Principal Harp, Elsa von Seggern Principal Harp Chair, Dallas Symphony Orchestra
  • Gemma New, Principal Guest Conductor, Dolores G. & Lawrence S. Barzune, M.D. Chair, Dallas Symphony Orchestra
  • Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO, Dallas Symphony Orchestra
  • Maria Schleuning, Artistic Director, Voices of Change Modern Music Ensemble and Violinist, Dallas Symphony Orchestra
  • Chad Smith, Chief Operating Officer, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Artistic Director, Ojai Music Festival
  • Mark Volpe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Zannie Voss, Director, SMU DataArts/National Center for Arts Research
  • Xi Wang, Associate Professor of Music Composition and Theory, Southern Methodist University
  • Dennie Palmer Wolf, Principal Researcher, WolfBrown
  • Thomas Wolf, Principal and Founder, WolfBrown
  • Katie Wyatt, Executive Director, El Sistema USA
  • Kevin Yu, Musician and Founder, Coregami

The fee for the complete Women in Classical Music Symposium is $90. Participants may also sign up for a private dinner as part of their experience for an additional $40. Registration information and the complete schedule can be found at mydso.com/women. Financial assistance is available. Information on the assistance process is available on the registration site.

Performance is central to the symposium, and the days include opportunities to enjoy and participate in orchestral music and opera. The DSO will welcome attendees to an open rehearsal on Thursday, November 7. Participants may also attend the Dallas Symphony debut concert of recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor Gemma New, Dolores G. & Lawrence S. Barzune, M.D. Chair, on Friday, November 8. New will lead the DSO in two works by Debussy – La Mer and Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun – and will present the Dallas premiere of New Zealand composer Salina Fisher’s Rainphase and the world premiere of Steven Mackey’s Timpani Concerto as part of the 2019/20 Texas Instruments Classical Series.  

On November 8 at 1:00 PM in the Meyerson Symphony Center Lobby, Dr. Thomas Wolf will host a unique multi-media presentation based on his new critically acclaimed book, The Nightingale’s Sonata (www.nightingalessonata.com). With narration, live performance by Eunice Keem, DSO Associate Concertmaster, and dramatic photographs, it will depict the moving and uplifting story of Lea Luboshutz, Wolf’s grandmother, an internationally renowned violinist and one of the first female superstars of the classical music field. Tickets for this exceptional event are available for non-symposium attendees for $35, which includes a signed book. Symposium attendees may add a signed book to their registration for $29.95.

Participants are also invited to attend sessions at The Dallas Opera’s Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors on Friday, November 8. The next evening, Saturday, November 9, the Hart Institute conductors will perform in concert in the Winspear Opera House as the capstone event of the seminar.

“I am delighted to work alongside our colleagues at The Dallas Opera for the symposium,” said Noltemy. “The Hart Institute has established itself as an important event for women conductors, and their input while building the Women in Classical Music Symposium has been invaluable.”

“Since the Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors was inaugurated four years ago,” explained Ian Derrer, General Director of The Dallas Opera, “we have received more than 400 applications from conductors in 38 countries around the world. Our alumnae have been appointed to many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras and opera companies. Therefore,” Derrer added, “our collaboration with the DSO seemed a natural fit.  The orchestra’s ambitious new symposium is the latest sign that the performing arts in Dallas have seized an historic moment to rigorously challenge the status quo in classical music.”

This event is presented as part of the DSO’s extensive Women in Classical Music initiative, which is designed to create conversation about and opportunities for women in the field. As part of the initiative, the DSO has appointed Gemma New as its Dolores G. and Lawrence S. Barzune, M.D. Principal Guest Conductor and Julia Wolfe as its Composer-in-Residence. The Dallas Symphony’s Women in Classical Music initiative is supported in part by Capital One, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, Martha Wells and Texas Women’s Foundation.


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 211,000 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.