Female Conductors Inspiration Day

Published 8 March 2024

LYC Chamber Choir take part in a workshop day for young female conductors at the Royal Academy of Music, led by Emma Warren

LYC Chamber Choir recently took part in a Female Conductors Inspiration Day, organised by Emma Warren and taking place at the Royal Academy of Music. The singers joined Inchant and LYC pianist Harry Baker to form the ensemble conducted by the workshop participants, who were instructed by Emma Warren and LYC West Conductor Olivia Shotton. The participants conducted a range pieces including If ye love me by Thomas Tallis and Peace I leave with you by Amy Beach. After the workshops, the participants and LYC Chamber Choir members took part in a fascinating and inspiring Q & A session with Emma and Olivia about conducting as a career, particularly as a woman in a male-dominated profession. 

Emma Warren and Olivia Shotton both studied Choral Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music, and Emma organised this day as part of her role as Meaker Fellow.

 LYC Chamber Choir member Orla was one of the workshop participants. She said:

I really enjoyed the female conductors inspiration day and found it a really inspiring and positive experience. Emma and Olivia were both very encouraging and set achievable targets for me to work towards during the sessions and I managed to achieve these targets which really increased my confidence conducting. Emma and Olivia both took into account our previous experience conducting which meant that we could all make appropriate progress. I had only ever done simple songs and rounds for young singers so to do more challenging repertoire (Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and MacMillan’s O Radiant Dawn, both SATB) was a huge challenge for me but Emma and Olivia helped me embrace the challenge and conduct 4 part singing. It was really exciting to conduct my chamber choir peers and I left feeling really inspired by seeing female conductors in what is a hugely male-dominated profession.

A young woman in a teal LYC T shirt with pink hair stands at c podium, conducting. To her right is a pianist at the piano. Two singers are visible from behind in the foreground. The room is large with wood floor and walls and a high ceiling.

Also taking part in the workshop was London Youth Choir member Evie, for whom it was her first ever time conducting! Evie said:

As it was my first time conducting I was nervous to stand up in front of everyone, but the others were so friendly and receptive that they made the environment very suitable for a first time conductor. Both Emma and Olivia were incredibly encouraging and helpful, I really felt I learned a lot and was inspired to do more in the future. One thing I particularly enjoyed was doing the Q and A session at the end of the day. It helped me to understand the different paths you can go down to get into conducting, what it is like to be a female conductor in a majority male field, the challenges you will face and how to deal with them. I found the whole experience to be really interesting and I hope I am presented with opportunities like this again!

A young woman in a purple zip hoodie stands at the conductors' podium, next to another young woman in green trousers and a black polo neck top, giving some guidance in conducting gesture. Three singers are visible from behind in the foreground. The room has a wooden floor and high ceiling. A grand piano is just visible to the left.

Emma Warren is the Meaker Fellow at the Royal Academy of Music, and organised this event as part of her fellowship. Emma says:

Conducting is a very male-dominated profession, and although things are slowly improving, there’s still much more to be done. One of the biggest challenges for aspiring conductors is getting ‘podium time’, so this workshop day was designed to give participants lots of hands-on experience with a great group of singers. It was so encouraging to see the conductors pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, and growing in confidence over the course of the day. I was particularly pleased to see how well the conductors all supported and encouraged each other, and how responsive the singers were. We were so delighted to receive more applications than we could possibly accommodate, so we’re hoping to hold more workshops like this in the future!

This was an incredibly valuable experience not only for the workshop participants, but also for the rest of LYC Chamber Choir who learned more about conducting by being part of the masterclass and from the Q&A. We are grateful to Emma Warren, Olivia Shotton, the Royal Academy of Music, LYC pianist Harry Baker and the singers from Inchant for making this day possible and we very much hope the event will be held again in the future.

A group of two young women stood together in a row and smiling. The middle two are wearing lanyards. The floor and wall are an orange/brown wood colour, and a large window is just visible at the top of the image.

Choral Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music

Find out more about studying Choral Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music

About Emma Warren

Emma is a conductor and singer who studied at the Royal Academy of Music and University of Birmingham. Visit her website to find out more.


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