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Rosemary Thomson conducting on a podium

Women in Musical Leadership

A three-year, full-time, practicum-based conducting program designed to cultivate the next generation of women and non-binary conductors in Canada

The Women in Musical Leadership program is structured as a series of placements with Tapestry Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Partner Organizations across Canada in order to dramatically increase the Conductors’ practical experience, relationships, and skills.  Contact us if your organization is interested in becoming a partner.

Women in Musical Leadership’s broader mission is to help change the longstanding gender imbalance in music direction and conducting in opera and classical music in Canada.

Our inaugural cohort

In a joint statement, Tapestry Opera’s Artistic and General Director Michael Mori and Executive Director Jaime Martino said:

“Jennifer and Juliane are two of the brightest talents that Canada has to offer, emerging at the top in a very competitive first year. They exemplify the talent, passion, and great potential of women and non-binary musicians in Canada, who through this program will be provided the opportunities to build a deep and well-rounded foundation as conductors and music directors.”


The numbers (correct January 2021)

  • 1Number of female-identifying music directors currently in the top 10 Canadian opera companies.1
  • 3 Number of female-identifying resident assistant conductors currently in the top 12 Canadian symphony orchestras and the top 12 Canadian opera companies.2
  • 4 Number of active female-identifying professional conductors working in Canadian opera in the 2018/2019 season.3
  • 1Number of female-identifying music directors currently in the top 12 Canadian Symphony orchestras.4
  • 1 Number of female-identifying music directors or assistant conductors in the top 12 Canadian Symphony orchestras who were born and trained in Canada.5
  • 2 Number of active female-identifying professional conductors working in Canadian opera in the 2018/2019 season hired by Tapestry Opera.

We want to see change

In the 2018 / 2019 season only 6.2% of conductors in the largest six Canadian opera companies were women. 

Furthermore, there is only one female Music Director currently in the top 12 Canadian opera companies, and only one female music director or assistant conductor in the top 12 Canadian Symphony orchestras who was born and trained in Canada.

Rosemary Thomson conducting on a podium
Photo of Rosemary Thomson by Glenna Turnbull

“I remember asking a friend twenty- five years ago if she thought that my university would consider taking a woman into the conducting program. Thankfully, times have changed since then, but seeing a woman on the podium is still rare enough to be considered a novelty. This fellowship will help to change that perception and show that conducting is not exclusively a male profession.”

Canadian conductor Rosemary Thomson (Artistic Director, Opera Kelowna)

Our plan

To address the imbalance, create opportunities, enrich the talent pool.

The Women in Musical Leadership program builds a unique infrastructure that provides promising conductors the time, connections, support, and experience they need to enter fully into the profession.

 Specifically, the program is an advanced three-year fellowship for 6 music directors/conductors in cohorts of 2, beginning a year apart. We’ve partnered with symphonies, orchestras, universities, and opera companies across Canada to create practical opportunities to assist, music-direct, and conduct. Each Conductor is connected to a Career Mentor, a senior female conductor who will help guide the Conductor through their fellowship and career.

Applications for Women in Musical Leadership

Potential applicants are women and non-binary or gender non-conforming music directors and conductors who are over 21 years old and are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, with some experience in music direction, conducting, and ideally greater experience or expertise in another musical discipline (eg. collaborative piano, violin, voice).

Applications for Cohort 2 open in late 2021. Sign up to our mailing list to receive Women in Musical Leadership updates, plus other Tapestry updates, direct to your inbox.

Our People

Career Mentors

Conducting Advisors



1 Judith Yan, Opera on the Avalon

2 Cosette Justo Valdés, Assistant Conductor of Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Naomi Woo, Assistant Conductor of Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Kinza Tyrell, Assistant Conductor of Vancouver Opera.

3 Judith Yan (La Traviata – Edomonton Opera / La Boheme – Vancouver Opera / Ours, Shanawdithit – Opera on the Avalon), Jennifer Tung ( Tasting Shorts, Hook Up – Tapestry Opera), Rosemary Thomson (Shanawdithit – Tapestry Opera), Kimberley-Ann Bartczak (Ghost Opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors – Calgary Opera)

4 Elisa Cittero, Music Director of Tafelmusik Baraoque Orchestra, born and trained in Italy.

5 Naomi Woo, Assistant Conductor at Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, born and trained in Canada