Women In Music BBC Proms Survey 2019 - the substantially better figures of last year maintained


For some years Women in Music (UK) has been doing a survey of the numbers of women represented in the BBC PROMS season.  The Proms is the largest classical music festival in the world. This year there are 58 main evening orchestral concerts, as well as chamber music concerts, daytime events and late-night concerts. The audiences in the Royal Albert Hall are of many thousands, and all the concerts are broadcast, many on television.

The figures for women in the 2019 BBC Proms season are:

Composers:                    29/160  (18%)              [Last year was 21/133]

Living composers:         20/59    (33%)             [Last year was 17/43]

BBC Commissions

(or co-commissions):     5/15      (33%)              [Last year was 12/19]

Conductors:                    7/60      (11%)               [Last year was 4/58]

As for last year I have made a new category for the number of living composers whose works are substantial (more than 15 mins) and are featured in main evening concerts. This is because many of the new commissions are for short pieces in chamber concerts or “family” concerts.

Substantial works by living composers: 2/9  (22%)                    [last year was 5/14] (36%)

The women composers are: Lera Auerbach, Grazyna Bacewicz, Sally Beamish, Zosha Di Castri, Sofia Gubaidulina, Fanny Hensel, Hildegard of Bingen, Dorothy Howell, Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Joanna Lee, Mica Levi, Elizabeth Maconchy, Thea Musgrave, Laura Mvula, Carly Paradis, Ailie Robertson, Iris ter Schiphorst, Clara Schumann, Maddelena Laura Sirmen, Alexia Sloane, Linda Catlin Smith, Barbara Strozzi, Dobrinka Tabakova, Outi Tarkiainen, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Freya Waley-Cohen, Errollyn Wallen, Judith Weir, Stevie Wishart. (and Alissa Firsova,  no details given)

The conductors are: Karina Caneliakis, Elim Chan, Jessica Cottis, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, Sofi Jeannin, Dalia Stasevska, Nathalie Stutzmann.

To analyse the results:  These figures maintain the substantially better figures of last year. Rather fewer composers but more women conductors (reflecting the fact that there are more women conductors making their mark in the world generally). It seems that the marked improvement of the figures last year is set to continue. The BBC Proms season has always reflected, or been better than, the proportion of women composers and conductors in other concert series around the world. Now we need to look at what is happening elsewhere.

Jenny Fowler

NOTE: To maintain consistency with past years, I take my figures from the BBC booklet, rather than the website, which may be slightly different.

Anyone is welcome to quote these statistics, but please mention the source. The figures for past Proms seasons are also available on the Women in Music (UK) website: http://www.womeninmusic.org.uk/