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Meet the Maestra

Meet the Maestra

In honor of Women’s History Month, Classical WETA showcases some of the Washington area’s most notable female conductors, as well as guest conductors from around the world. We’ll hear from choral and orchestral conductors of ensembles large and small. Please join us in celebrating the superb talents that enrich our musical life. Be listening throughout the day for Meet the Maestra vignettes all month long, on Classical WETA.

Marin Alsop

Marin Alsop

Marin Alsop is the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.  She believes that "music has the power to change lives," and is the creator of the BSO's OrchKids program for underserved children in Baltimore.  Sunday, March 29th, she will lead the BSO in "Mozart and Mendelssohn," a program that includes the music of Fanny Mendelssohn and the world premiere of Anna Clyne's Color Field.


This season, Marin Alsop also leads orchestras on five continents as part of "All Together: A Global Ode to Joy," celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth.

by Wayne Guenther

Gisèle Becker

Gisèle Becker fell in love with choral music as a high school student. She sang with Robert Shafer's renowned Madison High School chorus, and later his professional choir at the National Shrine in Washington DC, earning enough for "beer money" while an undergraduate at Catholic University. Another important mentor was the late J. Reilly Lewis, with whose Washington Bach Consort she sang and was assistant conductor for 27 years. This veteran Washington musician spent 17 years with The Oratorio Society (later The Washington Chorus), and 25 years with Cantate Chamber Singers (now led by Victoria Gau, another of our featured Maestras). She was chorusmaster for the Cathedral Choral Society for 10 years. In addition, she was director of choral activities at The George Washington University and conducting professor at her alma mater, The Catholic University of America.
Gisèle claims to be retired, but came to WETA to discuss a Choral Arts Society program she was guest conducting --Music by Women on a Mission--which has sadly been postponed.

Laura Colgate Boulanger Initiative

Laura Colgate

The DC-based Boulanger Initiative's mission is to promote music composed by women through performance, education, and commissions.  The co-founders, Laura Colgate and Joy-Leilani Garbutt were inspired by sisters Lili and Nadia Boulanger who helped shape the music of the 20th century.  Nadia Boulanger was the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic and several other major US and European orchestras.

Miriam Burns

Miriam Burns

MIRIAM BURNS was on staff with the New York Philharmonic as one of their Cover Conductors from 1999-2007, having been appointed by Kurt Masur as a result of a competitive audition by-invitation-only. In this capacity, she accompanied the orchestra on tour to the Far East as the tour Assistant Conductor to then new Music Director, Lorin Maazel, and for eight years was entrusted as an assistant conductor on call for countless specific, fully prepared programs under many guest conductors of international repute.

Now in her eighth season as Music Director and Conductor of the Tysons McLean Orchestra (VA), Ms. Burns continues as Music Director of The Orchestra of the Redeemer in New York City . Additionally, she has recently been appointed to the position of Visiting Professor and Director of Orchestras at The Ohio State University.

Victoria Gau

Victoria Gau wields many batons.  She is in her 22nd season leading the Capital City Symphony, and her first as music director of Cantate Chamber Singers.  She also conducts Montgomery County second graders for the National Philharmonic.  

Upcoming concerts include:

  • Atlas Arts for Young Audiences:  Meet the Orchestra! Saturday, April 4th.
  • Cantate Chamber Singers: "WONDER--Music and the Natural World"  May 10th.

Gretchen Kuhrmann

  • Gretchen Kuhrmann is the founder and artistic director of Choralis, now celebrating its 20th season. A 130-voice chorus, Choralis is committed to programming the classical choral repertoire as well as compositions by living composers and world music. 

Upcoming events include: 

  • Sunday, March 22: Move Him into the Sun 
  • Saturday, April 4: Young Artists Competition 
Gemma New by Fred Strucker

Gemma New

33 year-old New Zealand-born Gemma New is a leader among the new generation of conductors.  She is Music Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Resident Conductor of the St.Louis Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra as well as Principal Guest Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  (She travels a lot!)

This season she makes her debut with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Orchestra Bonn and Ulster Orchestra.

Credit Simon Fowler

Nathalie Stutzmann

Contralto and conductor Nathalie Stutzmann is Chief Conductor of Kristiansand Symphony in Norway, Principal Guest Conductor of RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland as well as Artist-in-Residence with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2019-2020 season.  When she conducted the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington last June, The Washington Post wrote: "[she] was able to animate the orchestra with a glance, a whispered phrase, a gesture, keeping a sense that there was a dialogue going on between the podium and instruments, rather than an austere will being imposed from one to the other."

Upcoming performances: March 26 and 29, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra-- Beethoven's Symphony No.9

 April 21-May 9, Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame at La Monnaie in Brussels.

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