Who was the first woman to conduct at the BBC Proms? No it wasn't the ubiquitous Marin Alsop. It is more than ten years since Odaline de la Martinez made her first Proms appearance, and it doesn't do any harm to shift some of the attention on women conductors over to this very talented lady, especially as she also composes.
Born in Cuba and raised in the USA Odaline de la Martinez is now based in London. She retains strong links with South America, and was awarded the Villa-Lobos Medal by the Brazillian government. As well as guesting with mainstream orchestras Martinez is also founder and music director of contemporary ensemble Lontano. Her first opera, Sister Aimée was premiered in the US in 1984. She has her own record label Lorelt which specialises in music by women composers, Latin American and contemporary composers.
To give a taste of her composing style here is a short extract from the second movement Song of the rider of her 1983 Canciones for voice, piano and percussion.
This is available on the Lorelt CD British Women Composers Volume 2 together with works by Judith Weir, Melinda Maxwell, Hilary Tann and Eleanor Alberga.
Odaline de la Martinez is very much a lady of many talents, and one whose work is well worth exploring further.
If you enjoyed this post take an overgrown path to First performance - Douglas Weiland's Second Piano Trio, Pavey Ark