Opera North launches new female conductor traineeship

Female conductors based in the UK are being called on to apply for an intensive new ten-week training scheme aimed at addressing the gender balance in conducting and classical music

Dalia Stasevska makes her UK debut with the Orchestra of Opera North_credit Justin Slee

Opera North has launched a new intensive ten-week traineeship for female conductors, aimed at improving the gender balance in the industry.


Successful applicants will be able to take part in two dedicated workshops with Opera North’s music director Garry Walker, as well as one-on-one discussions and lessons with Opera North staff and visiting conductors throughout the winter 2021/22 season. These will include principal guest conductor Antony Hermus; Sian Edwards, head of conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and an Opera North conducting regular; Opera North’s head of music David Cowan; chorus master Oliver Rundell; and music staff members Martin Pickard and Annette Saunders. We named Sian Edwards as one of the best female conductors working today.

Trainees will also be able to visit rehearsals and coaching sessions with Opera North’s orchestra and singers ahead of their upcoming productions of RigolettoAlcina and Carmen. They will also assist with sessions and rehearsals in primary schools across Leeds and with Opera North’s three youth choruses, youth orchestra and orchestra academy workshops.

They will also take on the role of assistant conductor for Youth Opera Project performances of Hans Krása’s Brundibár in Leeds and Newcastle in January 2022.

‘We are looking for someone with outstanding musical and communication skills, who may or may not yet have had much conducting experience, but wishes to explore a pathway into conducting by means of this immersive programme,’ says Garry Walker, Opera North’s music director.

The Female Conductor Traineeship will take place in Leeds from 29 November-17 December 2021 and 4 January-18 February 2022. A bursary of £350 per week + expenses will also be provided. 

How to apply for Opera North’s Female Conductor Traineeship

Candidates are invited to submit video footage of between 5 and 15 minutes showing exceptional musicianship and communicative skills (performing or conducting), preferably from a live event; a short video introducing themselves and explaining why they have applied for the programme; and letters of recommendation from at least one, ideally two, professional musicians.

These should be sent with a CV to felicity.dunk@operanorth.co.uk. They should also complete this diversity monitoring form.


Applications close at 10am on Monday 9 August, with interviews for shortlisted candidates held in the week commencing Monday 30 August.