Updated: Jun 5, 2020
equality factor: history-making female leader in classical music
based in: Nürnberg
From early childhood on, Joana Mallwitz knew how to set goals and fight for what she wanted. At only 33 years old, the Hildesheim-born German conductor has already made it to the top of her orchestra career as the first woman in the history of the Erfurt Theatre and the Staatstheater Nürnberg to be appointed General Music Director. On top of that, this female force also is the youngest GMD in Europe.
"How can this be?" - this was Joana Mallwitz's first reaction when she was named Conductor of the Year in Opernwelt, (German monthly magazine for opera, operetta, and ballet), a title usually reserved for prominent older colleagues. We think it was not as much a surprise as it was the result of hard work, years in the making: Joana began her relationship with music at a very young age. She started playing the violin at the age of three and the piano at five; in her teens, she became one of the first students at the University of Music in Hanover.
In 2006, she started her career as a repeater at the Heidelberg Theatre.
With her work and endlessly dedicated personality, Joana represents a fundamental tool, not only in the understanding of classical music and its performance but also in the equality factors within it. At ease, and without having to explain herself, she paves the way towards the goal of total equality empowerment in classical music. Not in vain is she known to be news "for being the first woman in ..." - but she certainly will not be the last.fferent as if the orchestra has been replaced. The musicians are like wax in her hands" said one of the critics of Opernwelt.ouse. She was there from morning till late at night. Joana Mallwitz described the immense pressure and stress of her work in a 2019 interview: "You prepared everything, learned everything, directed everything - enormous stress, only now I realize how much I can resort to. At that time I had just finished, I couldn't have kept it up for long."
Following this intense period, at the age of 27, Joana moved to Erfurt. There, she has appointed the title of General Music Director in Europe, making her the youngest musical figure of this title ever, as well as the first female conductor in the history of the institution. She assumed the position at the Erfurt Theatre during the 2014/2015 season. After that, she wanted to give herself some time as an independent conductor - but her excellent reputation was ahead of her plans and immediately, Nuremberg called with another position offered.
"Nuremberg sounds different since Joana Mallwitz arrived there, so different, as if the orchestra has been replaced. The musicians are like wax in her hands."
With twelve years of professional experience and a signed five-year contract, Joana Mallwitz has served as General Director of Music at the Staatstheater Nürnberg since the beginning of 2018. The position placed her at the top of a new musical era, being the first woman director in the history of an institution of scarce equality empowerment since its foundation in 1923. "Nuremberg sounds different since Joana Mallwitz has arrived there, so different, as if the orchestra has been replaced. The musicians are like wax in her hands" said one of the critics of Opernwelt.
Joana Mallwitz impressive curriculum displays her work as follows:
Zurich Opera ("Macbeth")
Hamburg State Opera ("Elisir d'amore")
Latvian National Opera in Riga (has conducted Wagner's "Das Rheingold" and "Götterdämmerung")
Royal Danish Orchestra
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra,
London Philharmonic Orchestra
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
During the current season, she conducts concerts with orchestras such as the SWR Symphonieorchester Stuttgart, the Frankfurter Museumsorchester and the Stuttgarter Philharmoniker. She is regularly performing at the Frankfurt Opera, and also in Munich.
In June 2019, she also became "the first woman" to lead a Klassik Open Air.
“A lot has happened in the public image in recent years. Actually, I find it absurd that gender inequality is still a problem when I see how early, for example, Simone Young did certain things. She broke the ice. On the other hand, I am certainly surprised at how many things I am the first to do as a woman” she declared in an interview.
With her work and endlessly dedicated personality, Joana represents a fundamental tool, not only in the understanding of classical music and its performance but also in the equality factors within it. At ease, and without having to explain herself, she paves the way towards the goal of total equality empowerment in classical music. Not in vain is she known to be news "for being the first woman in ..." - but she certainly will not be the last.