May 23, 2024

SLI Award for Project to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in Music through Concerts in Germany

The Sylff Association secretariat is pleased to announce another recent recipient of a Sylff Leadership Initiatives (SLI) award for a project to promote “Gender Equality for Orchestra Conductors in Leadership Positions.”

Eleni Papakyriakou, a Sylff fellowship recipient in 2012, received her master’s degree in orchestra and choir conducting from the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. She is the chief conductor and artistic director of Sinfonietta Passau, which she founded in 2022 during the post-pandemic revival of the cultural scene to provide musicians with opportunities to perform. “I decided that I had to help myself and the musicians around me by creating a new orchestra,” she comments.

She also wished to address the problems of unequal treatment, discrimination, and lack of opportunities for women musicians. As a female conductor, Papakyriakou has personally experienced barriers faced by many women. “Currently only 8 percent of conductors in leadership positions in Germany are female.”

She established Sinfonietta Passau with a vision of creating an inclusive orchestra of musicians from many different countries and at various stages of their careers. The orchestra consists of 64 musicians—33 women and 31 men—including Russians and Ukrainians, who left their countries because of the war.

Using the SLI award, Papakyriakou and Sinfonietta Passau held two highly successful concerts in April in the southeast German cities of Passau and Deggendorf. The performances by this unique orchestra, whose program included the German premiere of Passau-born composer Philipp Ortmeier’s “Tree of Life,” communicated an important message of equality and inclusion.

Papakyriakou leads Sinfonietta Passau at the Deggendorf concert in April.

The Sylff Association secretariat congratulates Eleni Papakyriakou on the award and her virtuosic efforts to achieve greater musical and social harmony. We are excited to support fellows who are taking on leadership roles to create positive social impact.