Yessica Lanza Lectures on Women Orchestra Directors

General Director of National Archives of Theatre and Cinema, Professor Roberto Ramos-Perea, and the Puerto Rican Athenaeum’s director of music, Dr. William Ortiz, invite the public to an illustrated lecture entitled “Contributions of Puerto Rican Women to Orchestral Conducting,” by Professor Yessica Lanza, with the musical participation of baritone José Francisco Rodríguez, accompanied on guitar by Renaldo Guadalupe Álamo. The lecture will be held on Thursday, August 12, 2010, at the Athenaeum Theater at 8:00pm. Admission is free.

Chief conductor, pianist, and historian Lanza will speak about the first achievements of Puerto Rican women at the podium and their participation in the musical development of the island. She will address the challenges that women have faced in their efforts to gain acceptance and excel in this professional field as well as the opportunities available for greater involvement as a conductor. The lecture draws a historical line from 1886, with Ana Otero Hernández and Cruz Verar de Real—the first women to take up the baton on the island, passing through Kerlinda Degláns Olivencia—the first Puerto Rican woman to establish a solid career as a conductor, both locally and internationally, and ending with Leticia Medina Díaz and Helen González Lorenzo—young women that will surely have a promising future in the new generation of female orchestra directors.

According to Puerto Rico Daily Sun article “Women Step up to the Podium,” they are following a tradition of women conductors such as Eve Queler, Sarah Caldwell, Tania Oliver, Anne Manson (all from the United States), Portugal’s Odaline de la Martinez, and Britain’s Andrea Quinn, Music Director of the Royal Ballet. I would like to add to that list Argentina’s Eva Irene Lopszyc; Mexico’s Gabriela Díaz Alatristre; Italian-American rising star Annunziata Tomaro; France’s Nathalie Marin, chief director of the L’Ensemble Orchestral de l’Isère; Estonian conductor, Anu Tali; Italy’s Nicoletta Conti; Australia’s Simone Young, who was chief director of the Opera Australia in Sydney and, more recently, of the Hamburg Philharmoniker in Germany; Algerian-born French conductor Zahia Ziouani; South Korea’s Eun Sun Kim; Spain’s Inma Shara, Silvia Sanz Torre, Gloria Isabel Ramos, Mercedes Padilla, Isabel López Calzada, and María Juana Martínez de la Hoz; Russia’s late Veronica Dudarova; and Zheng Xiaoying, who was chief conductor for the National Opera of China and China’s first female chief conductor (shown here).

Yessica Lanza studied music education at the School of Fine Arts of Carolina (Puerto Rico) and the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music. She also received training in French horn, violin, guitar, and vocal technique. Her passion for music and conducting led her to take courses with Roselín Pabón, Guillermo Figueroa, Caonex Peguero, Iván del Prado, Eduardo Navega, and Harold Farberman. She has conducted the Symphony Orchestra of the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, the Conservatory Brass Ensemble, the Dominican Republic’s National Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Music Ensemble at Bard College (New York), and several choral groups in Puerto Rico. [I was unable to find a photo of Yessica Lanza.]

For more information, you may call (787) 977-2307.

For a full article on female principal directors, see

Photo of Zheng Xiaoying from

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