Women Conductors Outraged at Petrenko’s Orchestra Comment

Photographer: Bo Mathisen. Source: Oslo Philharmonic via Bloomberg

The Oslo Philharmonic orchestra. Its chief conductor, Vasily Petrenko, outraged women conductors by saying that orchestras react better to a man on the podium. Close

The Oslo Philharmonic orchestra. Its chief conductor, Vasily Petrenko, outraged women... Read More

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Photographer: Bo Mathisen. Source: Oslo Philharmonic via Bloomberg

The Oslo Philharmonic orchestra. Its chief conductor, Vasily Petrenko, outraged women conductors by saying that orchestras react better to a man on the podium.

Norway’s women conductors voiced shock and outrage after Vasily Petrenko, the Russian chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, was quoted by the daily Aftenposten saying orchestras react better to men than to women.

Petrenko, 37, told the newspaper that orchestras react better to men, who “have less sexual energy and can focus more on the music” while women on the podium could be distracting, Aftenposten said. Women often find it hard to be as devoted to the job as is necessary once they have children, Petrenko told the newspaper.

The Norwegian conductor Halldis Roenning said she found Petrenko’s comments “ridiculous and totally unreasonable,” Aftenposten reported. Conductor Cathrine Winnes Trevino said Petrenko’s views were “antiquated” and “unacceptable.”

Petrenko, who is also the principal guest conductor at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, later sought to clarify his comments, saying in a post on the orchestra’s website that he was talking about the situation for female conductors in Russia. Petrenko said he has the “utmost respect for female conductors” and would encourage any girl to study conducting.

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Vasily Petrenko poses with the Male Artist of the Year Award during the Classical BRIT Awards at Royal Albert Hall on May 13, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images) Close

Vasily Petrenko poses with the Male Artist of the Year Award during the Classical BRIT... Read More

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Vasily Petrenko poses with the Male Artist of the Year Award during the Classical BRIT Awards at Royal Albert Hall on May 13, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

(Catherine Hickley writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on this story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at chickley@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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