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Guide to La Maestra Competition for Women Conductors

Fact file
Deadline24 Apr - 16 Sep 2019
Finals16 - 19 Mar 2020
WhereParis, France
Age groupsNo upper age limit

With no upper age limit, La Maestra International Competition for Women Conductors will showcase 12 candidates of the highest calibre, following a carefully-managed selection process. The competition will award several financial prizes, professional engagements, as well as extensive career support.

A gender balanced selection committee – composed of conductors Claire Gibault and François-Xavier Roth, composer Graciane Finzi, and Philharmonie de Paris general manager Laurent Bayle – will meet to select 12 candidates, whose names will be announced on 30 September 2019.

La Maestra – International Competition for Women Conductors is co-directed by Paris Mozart Orchestra music and artistic director Claire Gibault and Philharmonie de Paris general manager Laurent Bayle.

For this 1st edition, the competition organisers have gathered a prestigious jury chaired by New York Philharmonic Orchestra General Manager Deborah Borda and composed of conductors such as Claire Gibault, Pablo Heras-Casado, Valentina Peleggi, Sian Edwards, Yutaka Sado and Atso Almila.

The repertoire for each of the rounds will include masterpieces from the 18th to the 20th centuries, as well as new works commissioned to young French composer Alexandra Grimal and Italian composer Fabio Vacchi.

This competition, which will have its 2nd edition at the Philharmonie de Paris in March 2022, will aim to promote the discovery and recognition of talented women conductors worldwide and encourage programmers to take into account the diversity of our societies.

Today, no permanent state-funded French orchestra can boast a female music director. According to a recent study, only 4% of conductors programmed by French musical institutions are women. The situation is no better in Europe, where only 6% of guest conductors are women. Few women candidates are selected by existing conducting competitions. Similarly, very few women appear on selection panels and juries.

There are already growing signs of a welcome shift away from traditional attitudes and prejudices, but we believe the time has come for truly bold and powerful statements to influence, inspire and drive change so that women conductors can become the norm, not the exception.

This new competition is an exciting and dynamic expression of our confidence in the bright future that is dawning for women conductors.

For full application details, please visit the La Maestra website.

Philharmonie de Paris
Philharmonie de Paris


On 30th September, 12 selected candidates will be announced. Preliminary rounds will take place on 16 and 17 March, the semi-final on 18 March and the final on 19 March. 

All rounds are open to the public. For the preliminary round and the semi-final admission is free. Ticket price for the final is 12€.

Jury Members

Deborah Borda, General Manager of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (president of the jury, United States)Claire Gibault, artistic and musical director of the Paris Mozart Orchestra (France), Pablo-Heras Casado (Spain), Yutaka Sado (Japan), Valentina Peleggi (Italy), Sian Edwards (England), Atso Almila (Finland)

Selection Committee

François-Xavier Roth, conductor, Claire Gibault, conductor, Laurent Bayle, General Manager of the Philharmonie de Paris, Graciane Finzi, composer

Next edition 

This will take place at the Philharmonie de Paris in March 2022.

© Gilles Mermet
© Gilles Mermet
Claire Gibault © E Grégoire
Claire Gibault
© E Grégoire