On March 9, 2022

Female conductor shatters glass ceiling  

‘The Conductor’ screens at Billings Farm & Museum

Saturday, Mar. 12 at 3 and 5:30 p.m. — WOODSTOCK — Despite being told “girls can’t do that” and being repeatedly rejected by the establishment of classical music, Marin Alsop persisted and never let go of her dream of becoming a conductor. Set to a breathtaking soundtrack of her performances, the final documentary of the 12th annual Woodstock Vermont Film Series, “The Conductor” goes behind the scenes through Alsop’s years of dedication, hard work, tenacity and ultimate success in becoming the first woman to conduct a major American orchestra.  On Saturday, Mar. 12 at 3 and 5:30 p.m., “The Conductor“ will screen at the Billings Farm & Museum Theater.

Courtesy BF&M

Directed by documentary filmmaker and Johns Hopkins film professor Bernadette Wegenstein, this powerful film tells Alsop’s story through a combination of intimate interviews and shared professional and private moments.  These include unseen archival footage with her mentor, Leonard Bernstein, and vérité scenes of Marin conducting some of the world’s great orchestras and teaching the next wave of conductors who, like her, were being excluded from the classical music canon.

Born into a musical family in New York, Alsop set her sights on becoming a conductor at just 9 years old while accompanying her father to one of Bernstein’s Young People’s concerts. Her journey to professional success was neither easy nor straightforward, at a time when, according to New York Times reporter Michael Cooper, “It was easier for a female to become a leader of a G5 nation or a Five Star General than to become a conductor of a major symphony.”

Not only did Marin Alsop become the first female music director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, but she was also the first and only female conductor to receive a MacArthur Award.  She was the first female to conduct the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms and to be appointed as chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.

“The Conductor” has a winning frankness that enables the audience to fall under the spell of its profoundly articulate protagonist. It’s a triumphant film about overcoming discrimination and realizing one’s talent against all odds.

The film will screen at 3 and 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Mar. 12 in the Billings Farm & Museum Theater. Reservations are strongly recommended as seating is limited. Masks and proof of vaccination are required. Purchase tickets and provide proof of vaccination in advance online at billingsfarm.org/filmseries or by phone at 802-457-5303 before noon on Friday, March 11. Tickets are available for purchase at the ticket desk when doors open, 30 minutes before showtime.

Showing as part of the 12th annual Woodstock Vermont Film Series, these films reflect Billings Farm & Museum’s vision to share place-based stories of people near and far, to engage our audiences, and to inspire conversations that increase connections with each other and our world.

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