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Women of Color in Conducting

Dear Colleagues:
I am posting this for a graduate student in Arts Management looking to identify highly successful women of color in the profession of conducting. If you should like to suggest someone for her to interview or you happen to be an ideal candidate, please contact her directly at the email she has provided.
Dan Abraham
American University (Washington, DC)
My name is Shruthi Mukund and I am a Masters of Arts Management candidate at American University, Washington DC. I am in the process of gathering women's success stories for my master's thesis, “Women of Color in Leadership Positions in Nonprofit Arts Organizations in the U.S.”  Through an interview process, I will contextualize the portfolio by adding voices and unique perspectives from "women leaders of color." The interview and findings will be published on Equalarty (, a website examining gender equality in arts management.
I am specifically looking for conductors, executive directors or artistic directors of orchestras, choruses, opera companies, and other professional music ensembles. If you or someone you know would be willing to be interviewed please contact me via email - sm7851a(a)
Replies (17): Threaded | Chronological
on November 2, 2015 11:09am
Lynne Morrow is exactly the kind of person you are looking for.  
Frank La Rocca
on November 4, 2015 7:12am
Lynell Joy Jenkins from the Princeton Girl Choir is an outstanding conductor, educator and leader.
on November 4, 2015 8:35pm
Renée Baker, conductor of Chicago Modern Orchestra Project:
on November 5, 2015 6:33am
You should get in contact with D'Walla Simmons-Burke, the Director of Choral Activities at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  She is a fantastic musician and a great human being.
on November 5, 2015 10:04pm
Jeri Lynne Johnson, Artistic Director of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra in Philadelphia, fits very well your criteria.
on November 6, 2015 7:50am
Dr. Norma  Raybon would be an excellent person to interview. I believe she has retired from Spelman College, but she still directs at the First Congregational Church in downtown Atlanta.  She is highly respected, and she had conducted professionally in Atlanta for many years. She might also be a good source for other leads in this research. 
Mary Root
DeKalb Choral Guild
Applauded by an audience of 2
on November 10, 2015 5:58pm
Yes, indeed, Mary!  You posted my thoughts. She is admired and respected by singers, [ including soloists ], conductors, and people in general.  I have heard musicians in this area describe her as " the greatest conductor in the world." , and I would not argue.  She often substituted for Robert Shaw.
Totally focused, beautifully-spoken, well-prepared, knowledgable,  energetic, artistic, caring, and fun; Norma sets the standard high.  If I were hiring a conductor, Dr.  Norma Raybon would be the first one I would ask.
She is in demand to lead workshops, Honor Choirs, All-State and suchlike.
First Congregational is fortunate to have her.
Lucy Stembridge, free-lance conductor/soloist
on November 11, 2015 10:59am
Another person well-worth interviewing would be Sharon Willis, director/founder of:
She has composed and directed many of their operas, and commissioned others to compose for them.  Her dilligent artistry is also widely-respected.
I have emails for both of these women.  If that information would be helpful, write me through the "private messgae/email " venue of Choralnet.
on November 6, 2015 9:18am
You should contact Judith Willoughby at Oklahoma City University.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 12, 2015 6:38am
A second on Dr. Judith Willhoughby.
on November 9, 2015 3:26pm
Just learned about Alondra de la Parra, a Mexican orchestral conductor who is 35 and has a great career.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 9, 2015 9:36pm
Re Alondra de la Parra: I don't think "white" counts as "of color" in this context.
on November 10, 2015 12:01pm
She is Mexican, so I definitely think that she qualifies.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 10, 2015 5:23pm
This is an important issue, though off-subject, so I am not sure if the given subject-line remains appropriate for it. But to say that a New York-born person, who grew up in an affluent Mexican milieu, is a "person of color" is similar to saying that anyone from Madrid is a person of color and anyone from Canada is white. It seems to me as much of an over-generalization as were Jim Crow conventions calling anyone with a single African-American ancestor -- no matter how remote -- "Black," or Nazi regulations calling anyone with a single Jewish grandparent "Jewish" (even if there were subcategories such as "Mischling"). Is Jorge Mester a "person of color?" I imagine he'd laugh at the idea..

Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 11, 2015 10:48am
Since Shruthi Mukund is conducting this study, and the efforts connected with it, perhaps we should, for our purposes here, let her define what she envisions as "women of color".  If Ms. Mukund does not wish to open that [potentially controversial] conversation in this venue, we can respect that and simply send her names that we believe would qualify.  She is obviously free to include [ or not]  any name given.
Though I do see and affirm the need for such studies now, I long for the day when we'll all just be "choral directors", and other things - gender, complexion, height, weight, vocal range/type, place of birth/wealth at birth, romantic inclination, gender identity, faith choice, etc., will basically be non-factors, (except for how they might affect our artistry, as anything in our life can.)
  I submit this with deep respect for all, especially for Ms. Mukund.  She is embarking on a fascinating challenge.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on November 12, 2015 6:43am
Alondra de Parra would likely be a "White, Hispanic" (generally considered "of color) as opposed to a "Non-Hispanic White." Categories are always difficult, and especially for Latinos, and the researchers are the ones who make the call. 
on November 12, 2015 5:15am
I would encourage you to contact Dr. Marie Bucoy-Calavan, Director of Choral Studies at The University of Akron, and Artistic Director of Summit Choral Society.
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