Catherine Birke | Meeting New Faculty

Wednesday, Jan 17, 2024
Juilliard Journal
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Meet some of the recent additions to our faculty.

Catherine Birke, who received her BM from Temple University and MM from the University of the Arts, is the music director of the Music Advancement Program (MAP), where she rehearses and conducts the MAP String Ensemble and MAP Orchestra. She’s also the director of orchestras at Herricks High School on Long Island; the music director of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra Nassau Symphony Orchestra; and an adjunct assistant professor of music at Hofstra University.

Advice for students

First, know that you belong here! Although it can be daunting to come into a place like Juilliard as a young musician, know that you’re wanted and that multiple faculty and staff members saw amazing potential in you. Second, fake it til you make it! Very few titans in our field started out with the confidence they seem to have now. Eventually, that confidence becomes real, but it takes time—keep going!


I have a list I add to almost weekly of more than 60 female-identifying conductors I follow on Instagram, directing everything from major orchestras to regional groups and youth ensembles. Just two or three years ago, I would have bemoaned the lack of female representation on the podium, but since I’ve created this social media oasis for myself, it’s filled my feed with so much optimism and shifted my view of the profession. We still have a long way to go (especially when it comes to BIPOC female-identifying conductors), but there are so many of us out there working consistently and getting hired. I love watching these women work!

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