Leslie MEGAHEY (Holland Park Avenue Films), Maureen MURRAY (Holland Park Avenue Films), Henrietta FOSTER (Holland Park Avenue Films)
To be female in any profession is already a challenge but perhaps all the more so when you are a conductor with a whole orchestra in front of you. Beyond The Grace Note looks at the struggles and problems that many of the most famous female conductors in the world have had to face pursuing their chosen profession. The job itself is demanding enough but there are extra hurdles that women have to face. A man can be decisive but a woman is seen as bossy or overbearing. A man commands authority but a woman has to earn it. Her voice sounds too high to be taken seriously. Her gestures are not firm enough for many musicians and her very attractiveness might distract the male members of her orchestra. And of course she cannot possibly tackle the more masculine classical repertoire like Beethoven or Verdi or Wagner or Rachmaninov. She should really be satisfied with lighter composers like Ravel or Chopin or at a pinch Mozart.
Marin Alsop, Mirga Grazinte-Tyla, Xian Zhang, Jane Glover, Joana Carneiro, Sian Edwards and other conductors share their own paths to the podium along with their students some of whom are trying conducting for the first time. Made over the course of a few years the film has unique and privileged access to these remarkable and resilient musicians. It also offers an valuable insight into what a conductor actually does and how a conductor hears the music in front of her.
It is not a litany of complaints and misery but rather an uplifting look at how a love of music and musicians can conquer even the most difficult of situations.
Hopefully it will speak to any woman who has tried to hold her own in a male world but with a sense of humour and hope. There are more women on the podium now and more every year but still not enough.... this film asks why is this the case and proves that conducting is a suitable job for a woman.