Joan Catoni Conlon and her contributing authors cast a wide net with a new book, Wisdom, Wit, and Will: Women Choral Conductors on Their Art. Knitted together by the overarching, unifying theme of women in choral music, the resulting catch is expansive, varied, and thought-provoking. Given the large scope of the book and the impossibility of appropriately summarizing all articles, this review will simply talk about the contents, hopefully showing how the book will enrich the libraries of all choral conductors, especially those working in colleges and universities.
This compendium is divided into three main areas: “Our Music,” “Our Teaching,” and “Our Lives.” Within each area are multiple chapters (all at least mainly written by women) about women and/or about topics of interest to women. The chapters deal with professional development and personal histories, and they include insights on the art and education of choral music, personal and career-related advice for conductors, and concerns about gender inequities.
“Conducting the Choral-Orchestral Work” by Beverly Taylor may well become required reading in graduate programs. These instructional chapters are complete yet concise, the quality of the content matched by clarity of expression.