Joséphine Korda is the recipient of Opera North’s Female Conductor Traineeship for 2022-23, the Leeds-based opera company has revealed. She takes up the intensive nine-week scheme while studying for her Masters at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
This annual programme aims to help redress the gender imbalance in classical music, and especially on the podium. It offers emerging female conductors wide-ranging experience and support at Opera North.
Before the Christmas break, Korda attended rehearsals and music and language coaching sessions for the three productions in Opera North’s winter season: Puccini’s Tosca (1900), Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (1924) and Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (1912). She also watched concerts in the Howard Assembly Room and had one-to-one sessions with Opera North’s music director Garry Walker and guest conductor Andrew Gourlay.
This month, a masterclass with Walker and the Orchestra of Opera North will offer Korda the chance to work on a score in detail with the award-winning ensemble under her baton. As opening nights approach, she will attend stage and orchestra rehearsals, as well as a session on Ariadne auf Naxos repertoire with Opera North’s principal guest conductor Antony Hermus and a singer. She will also sit in on rehearsals for the orchestra’s next Kirklees Concert Season performance at Huddersfield Town Hall.
“I am so excited to be the Female Conductor Trainee at Opera North this season,” Korda commented. “It is going to be invaluable to be a part of the development of three such different and impressive operas; to see how they come together in a professional environment and through the collaboration of an extremely experienced team.
“The bespoke nature of this traineeship will allow me to develop enormously as an operatic conductor, and to gain knowledge from the mentorship and guidance of Opera North’s in-house and guest conductors. I’d like to thank Opera North sincerely for this wonderful opportunity.”
Korda has previously studied composition and conducting at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris with maestri Dominique Rouits and Julien Masmondet and composer Regis Campo, and advanced contemporary repertoire conducting at the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana with maestro Arturo Tamayo.
She maintained a busy conducting schedule alongside her studies. She was a guest conductor at Marin Alsop’s Women’s Conducting Masterclass with the Philharmonia at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, and has participated in numerous international competitions, including as a finalist in the 2021 International Besançon Competition for Young Conductors, semi-finalist in the Orchestra’s Conductor 2022, and quarter-finalist in the Lake Como Conducting Competition 2021.
Having conducted the London Schools Symphony Orchestra as a teenager while also acting as principal trumpet, she returned to conduct the ensemble for its anniversary concert at the Barbican Centre last year. Other ensembles she has conducted include Orchestre Victor Hugo Franche-Comté, Ensemble Variances, Ensemble des Apaches and the Dartington Festival Orchestra.
She was assistant conductor (2020-21) at the Opera de Massy, Paris, and musical director for Fréderique Lombart’s Féminin-Masculin, a production exploring the role of gender and sexuality within opera.
She founded the Paris Sinfonia, with whom she conducts concerts featuring classical and contemporary music. A composer herself, Korda is a strong advocate of contemporary music and the repertoire of living composers, and strives to include this music in her programmes, alongside works from the canon.
During degree studies at Oxford University she created the Occasional Orchestra, for which she commissioned new works from choreographer Charlotte Edmonds to enhance symphonic repertoire with performance art. She also enjoys dabbling in the theremin in her spare time.
Garry Walker, Opera North music director, said: “Once again we had a high level of interest in the Female Conductor Traineeship, and we’re delighted to welcome Joséphine to the Opera North family. She will enjoy the benefits of observing three operatic productions over the coming weeks, masterclasses with myself, Antony Hermus and other members of our staff, and will gain from a wide range of experience across the company’s hugely varied work.”
Tickets for the three productions on which Korda will be working are on sale now.
Joséphine Korda has been announced as Opera North’s Female Conductor Trainee for 2022-23; here she conducts the Opera North Youth Orchestra (Justin Slee).