There is only one woman I know of who could never be a symphony conductor, and that’s the Venus de Milo.
– Margaret Hillis
(1921 – 1998) American conductor. She was the founder and first director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus.
She was magnificent!!! While at Northwestern I had the privilege of studying conducting with her and doing independent study in score analysis. She was the greatest influence on my musical life as a musician and singer. First was the conducting class– over 100 had signed up and 8 were to conduct, chosen by audition. I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in hell. But I did the audition and got to conduct. I always remember singing in a concert with her and seeing her in her conducting gown. I said “You look nice Miss Hillis.” She responded “Just my overalls!” I still have my notebook from the conducting class that had to be turned in and graded. She wrote in it: “A++ Can I have a copy of this?”
I wouldn’t have traded that for my diplomas!
Thank you for the wonderful testimony, James!