Believe it or not, our Head of Conducting, Sian Edwards, can rarely offer places on our Masters in Conducting to women because they have had fewer opportunities than their male counterparts to learn core skills, gain valuable experience and build their confidence.

With the support of the new donor, Sian Edwards designed the Sorrell Women Conductors Programme – the first dedicated programme to be established for women conductors at any UK conservatoire.

The programme runs over four weekends between September and January and aims to empower women to apply for postgraduate education in the highly competitive field of conducting.

Under Sian’s artistic direction, the first weekend of the programme invites up to 12 applicants to participate in a series of workshops and mentoring sessions. These sessions are taught by guest teachers, which have included Ed Gardner and Alice Farnham, and cover technical conducting skills as well as leadership seminars and resilience training.

Based on their performance during the first weekend, up to six participants are invited back for a further three weekends of intensive workshops, during which they develop the tools and experience needed to successfully apply for postgraduate conducting programmes in the future.

Over the past two years, 24 women conductors have completed the Sorrell Women Conductors Programme, and participants’ feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. One participant on the 2019/20 programme said that ‘the whole experience has been transformative, and I hope [the programme] will be available for many years to come.’

Others report that the programme was critical in their decision to apply for postgraduate courses in conducting here at the Academy and across the UK, including at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Royal College of Music and Royal Northern College of Music.

Thanks to the ongoing support of the JMCMRJ Sorrell Foundation, the Sorrell Women Conductors Programme is scheduled to resume in the 2020/21 academic year.

Watch a brief video on the impact that the Sorrell Women Conductors Programme is having on women conductors here.

The Sorrell Women Conductors Programme is generously supported by the JMCMRJ Sorrell Foundation, in memory of Mr Jack Sorrell.