Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Sylvia Alimea

Hiring discrimination: In Classical music world

Abbie Conant, a trombone player, had to fight a protracted legal battle (5 years) to retain her position and another one (3 years) to get equal pay as men musicians…Trombone, like French horn and other brass instruments…are considered men sections in orchestras.  Trombone is used for military marches and apparently, Beethoven used trombone to create background noises

“Herr” Abbir Conant, (instead of frau) as she was referred to in the audition letter of acceptance by the Munich Deutsches Philharmonic, had the number 16 for a blind screen procedure audition.  The judges were not able to see the player auditioning for the trombone position. Why?  The son of a musician was also auditioning and the jury didn’t want to be blamed for any biases

After Abbie finished her piece, maestro Sergiu Celibidache exclaimed: “That’s who we want!” and sent the remaining auditioners packing without any trial…Sergiu Celibidache was very displeased to see a women selected.

A year later, Abbie was relegated to second trombone, since the orchestra wanted a man, as tradition wanted. And Abbie filed suit…

Maestro Otto Strasser told this story.  A blind screen audition was conducted and a Japanese musician was judged to be the best. That was a complete chock: Japanese were assumed not to play with any soul and fidelity of classical music composed by European…

Rainer Kuchl claimed that he could instantly differentiate between a female and a male violinist by picking up the softness and flexibility of the female style. Another hog wash claim by biased maestro…

Sylvia Alimea, 5 feet tall, a French horn player “who could blow down a house” was selected in a blind screen audition, otherwise she had no chance whatsoever.

Julie Landsman held at the last high c for a very long time, just not to leave any doubt in the jury’s mind (that she is a male player)

The eyes and all the other senses increase prejudiced assessment, and only the ears should be used in selecting talented musicians.

Herb Wiksleblatt, tuba player for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, let the fight in the 60’s for blind screening auditions. High heel sounds or coughing or anything that might divulge the gender or origin of the person coming to audition were ground enough to be issued a different number and come back behind the screen…

Control the environment and rapid cognition that usually decides can come under control and reduce biases.

Control the first impressions and you have the opportunity to hire the best qualified talented people…

Since blind screen auditioning procedures were instituted, the number of female musicians increased from 5% to 50% within two decades.

Note: Piece inspired from a chapter in “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell




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