Maggie Cotton

27th October 2008 Sponsored by The Princes Theatre


Maggie CottonNow retired and no longer silenced by a contract, Maggie presents an hones and long-overdue player’s perspective of life inside a professional symphony orchestra, describing how she became the first female percussionist in what was initially a staunchly male-dominated world. Now retired after forty years with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Maggie gives a fascinating and humorous insight into every aspect of her working life, including tours, conductors, composers, soloists, colleagues, recording contracts and educational work, as well as her own family life and the social conditions of wartime England and post-war Eastern Europe. Bolstered by her gritty Yorkshire roots, and naively undeterred by overwhelming odds, Maggie overcame many hurdles in pursuit of her ambition to play percussion in a professional symphony orchestra, in so doing transforming the face of women in that field from one of novelty circus performer to respected professional and colleague.

Maggie was born in Yorkshire in 1937 and has devoured music since her very early pianist beginnings as a child. In the late 1950’s three years after leaving school, she trail-blazed her way into the male-dominated profession of symphony orchestra musician, landing herself a contract as a percussionist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Since retirement, having played for the orchestra for forty years (eighteen with Simon Rattle), she has also worked as a music critic, and has at last gathered her experiences, from a player’s perspective, of the colourful and deeply satisfying world of the professional symphony orchestra in her autobiography Wrong Sex, Wrong Instrument.

Leave a Reply