Conductor Naomi Woo emphatically leading an orchestra

Maria Fuller and Naomi Woo join Women in Musical Leadership

Canadian conductors Maria Fuller and Naomi Woo have been announced as the Year 2 cohort of the Women in Musical Leadership conducting program.

Fuller and Woo, both accomplished Canadian artists with substantial achievements, will participate in the three-year program, benefiting from placements with orchestras, opera companies and festivals across Canada and supported by mentorship and training with industry-leading conductors across the country. 

Women in Musical Leadership is led by Canada’s trailblazing producer of contemporary opera, Tapestry Opera, in partnership with Lead Partner Pacific Opera Victoria, and Lead Orchestral Partner Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The three lead partners are working in collaboration with opera, music, and performing arts organizations across Canada. The program was first announced in October 2020, and launched in 2021.

The Women in Musical Leadership program was created to expand the musical leadership talent pool by championing and fostering female and non-binary Canadian musical talent. The shared goal is to change an historic gender imbalance in classical music leadership, where most positions are held by men. In activating a national coalition, the program provides the conductors with three-full years of opportunities to focus only on conducting.

Research conducted by Tapestry Opera in May 2022 found that less than 3% of titled conductor positions in major Canadian orchestras are currently occupied by Canadian women. In Canadian orchestras with budgets over 5 million Canadian dollars* there are 37 titled roles for conductors. Out of those 37 positions, only three are occupied by female conductors (8.1%). Of those three conductors, only one is Canadian (2.7%).

Fuller and Woo will begin their three-year participation in the program from summer 2022. They join current participants, Jennifer Tung and Juliane Gallant, whose experience in the program so far includes mentoring with renowned conductors Rosemary Thomson, JoAnne Falletta, and Karen Kamensek; masterclasses with Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Gustavo Gimeno; and conducting opportunities with Pacific Opera Victoria, Vancouver Opera, New Music Concerts, and Opera Kelowna.

Tapestry Opera’s Artistic Director Michael Hidetoshi Mori, and Tapestry Opera’s Interim Executive Director Stephanie Applin, said in a joint statement:

“We’re delighted to welcome Maria Fuller and Naomi Woo to the Women in Musical Leadership program, two leaders who emerged at the top of a highly competitive second year. Both women are conductors with substantial talents. This program will match their experience, skills, and ambitions with the opportunities, connections and mentorship required to accelerate their individual growth.” 

Saskatchewan-born conductor Maria Fuller is a rising star on the international music scene, praised for her “fiery and dynamic” performances (The Walleye Magazine) and “subtle control, careful focus and thorough professionalism…” (Chronical Journal of Thunder Bay). Sought after as a conductor, pianist, vocal coach, trumpeter, composer and arranger, Maria brings an unparalleled energy and infectious joy to her craft on and off the podium. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano from McGill University, a Masters of Music in Piano, Artist Diploma in Operatic Coaching, and a Masters of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Maria was the 2019 David Effron Conducting Fellow at the renowned Chautauqua Institute, and competed in the inaugural La Maestra International Conducting Competition in Paris in 2020.

Naomi Woo, named by CBC in 2019 as a “Top 30 Classical Musicians under 30”, is the Assistant Conductor of Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the first-ever Music Director of Sistema Winnipeg. Born in Newfoundland and raised in North Vancouver, Naomi conducts across Canada and is noted for her work as a socially-engaged artist and educator, with appearances at the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, Regina Symphony, and the Saskatoon Symphony. An advocate for opera and new music, Naomi will lead the Canadian premiere of Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Angel’s Bone (re:Naissance Opera) and the world premiere of Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s The Night Falls (BalletCollective, American Opera Projects). She holds degrees from Yale, Université de Montréal, and Cambridge.

New partner organizations announced for Women in Musical Leadership for Year 2 include: the Shaw Festival; Victoria Symphony; Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; Manitoba Opera; Regina Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia. 

The Women in Musical Leadership current partners include: Vancouver Opera; Opera McGill; Opera Kelowna; Manitoba Opera; Continuum Contemporary Music; Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra; New Music Concerts; Toronto Summer Music; Association for Opera in Canada; and Kingston Symphony.

“We thank our partners for their enthusiasm and dedication to our joint goal of changing the face of musical leadership in Canada, and for their support as we celebrate the achievements of these accomplished women as they take the next step in their careers” concluded Michael Mori and Stephanie Applin

*As deemed by Orchestras Canada. Titled roles including Music Director, Assistant Conductor, Principal Guest Conductor, Resident Conductor, Artist Partner (OM), Artist-In-Residence and Community Ambassador, Principal Pops Conductor, Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador.