Jenni Murray to conduct BBC Philharmonic orchestra - despite having no musical training

 

Woman's Hour presenter Jenni Murray has announced that she will be conducting the BBC Philharmonic orchestra - despite not being able to read music.

Murray will be given one lesson by conductor Jessica Cottis the day before the live broadcast on a special edition of the Radio 4 programme to mark women in music.

She will be conducting the Overture to Bizet's Carmen on Friday June 21.

Murray told the Radio Times: "I studied music at school but only as far as the fourth form - many, many years ago. I was excellent at appreciation, not so good on the practical side, gave up piano after four lessons (I hated the teacher) and played triangle in the school band.

"I shall have a few hours' training from the young conductor Jessica Cottis. I do know the piece - the Overture to Bizet's Carmen. I shall, I hope, terrify the players into submission with the power of my baton and by peering at them over the top of my specs."

Murray criticised the sexism she said was still rife in the classical music world, telling the magazine: "The women who seem to be most welcome are the ones who are prepared to go along with the old idea that sex sells.

"Look at the way the violinist Nicola Benedetti and trumpeter Alison Balsom are marketed."

She added: "The BBC is not entirely blameless in this matter. For the first time this year, the Last Night of the Proms - that wonderful night in the classical music calendar - will be conducted by a woman, the American genius Marin Alsop. It only took 119 years to get there."

PA

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