The Competition

A significant collaboration

In 2019 the Philharmonie de Paris and the Paris Mozart Orchestra joined forces to create La Maestra International Competition for Women Conductors, which launched to unanimous acclaim in September 2020. The competition is uniquely complemented by an Academy, which provides selected candidates with professional support for a period of two years.

Co-directed by artistic director of the Paris Mozart Orchestra Claire Gibault and Olivier Mantei, general manager of the Philharmonie de Paris, the next La Maestra Competition will take place from 3-6 March 2022.

An alarming situation

Why create a conducting competition – with a complementary Academy – open only to women? A legitimate question, perhaps, given that the first signs of changing attitudes towards women conductors are becoming apparent in some parts of the world…

But while more and more women conductors are enjoying successful careers, deeply entrenched sexist discrimination is sadly still a very-present obstacle for many of the others. Recent studies have shown that only 4% of conductors programmed by French musical institutions are women. The wider European situation is no better, with only 6% of guest conductors being women. Remarkably few women candidates are admitted to compete in existing conducting competitions, and very few women serve on their selection panels and juries.

Promoting talented women

Aimed at gifted professionals, La Maestra showcases candidates of the highest musical and technical calibre following a rigorously managed selection process. And there is no age limit. The competition awards generous financial prizes and high-profile professional engagements, with further carefully targeted training, mentoring and career support for all selected candidates through La Maestra Academy.

Reinforcing change

With La Maestra International Competition & Academy the Paris Mozart Orchestra and Philharmonie de Paris are together seeking to unite the international musical world behind a strong commitment to women conductors, encourage vocational aspiration among women and offer the youngest among them unprecedented levels of support.

The designated repertoire for each stage of the competition aims to highlight the artistic individuality of the chosen candidates, and will include orchestral and vocal masterworks from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries alongside a new commission by composer Graciane Finzi.

The inaugural La Maestra Competition took place at the Philharmonie de Paris in September 2020 and was an immediate and resounding world-wide success, attracting 220 applicants of 51 different nationalities and a wide variety of backgrounds. Applicants’ backstories revealed personal circumstances which differed wildly from one country to another.

This, together with the exceptional artistic quality displayed by the chosen candidates, has more than validated our original decision to take a strong stand, and encourages us to renew our efforts.


Claire Gibault

Artistic and musical director of the Paris Mozart Orchestra

Olivier Mantei

General Manager of the Cité de la musique and President of the Philharmonie de Paris

Paris Mozart Orchestra

Founded by Claire Gibault in 2011, the Paris Mozart Orchestra is a flexible ensemble varying in size and instrumentation according to the demands of each project. Through challenging and innovative programming, the PMO champions both classical and contemporary music, while advancing the accessibility of the arts in a generous spirit of open-hearted partnership.

Cité de la musique
Philharmonie de Paris

Listen, watch, learn, discover and practice music in every form. The Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris aims at offering spaces where the greatest ensembles play alongside young musicians and children just starting out in music. It encompasses a new building designed by Jean Nouvel (called Philharmonie) and the current Cité de la musique, created by Christian de Portzamparc. With its numerous spaces, resident ensembles and innovative artistic mission, it is a cultural centre that is truly unique in the world, bringing music awareness and learning to a diverse public.