Women’s History Month has become a welcome platform in mainstream media for recognition of the accomplishments of women composers and conductors in classical music – a traditionally male-dominated arena.
In March 2015, The Guardian Newspaper’s Classical Music Blog post Women composers: genius is gender blind – and so should we be, highlights eight accomplished contemporary women composers and explores discrimination towards women composers and whether the classical music environment is changing.
This year, BBC Radio 3, accessible via the internet all over the world, broadcast an international women’s day concert on March 8 featuring works by classical composer Amy Beach along with nine contemporary women composers. Two women conductors were featured: Jessica Cottis conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra while Grace Rossiter conducted the BBC Singers. The concert was part of International Women’s Day 2016 on Radio 3, a 24–hour “celebration of women in music looking at inspiring women of the past and present, and forward to the next generation of women composers, conductors and performers.” All the music broadcast throughout the day was composed by women.
On this side of the Ocean, WQXR, New York Public Radio’s classical music station, posted an article by Amanda Angel entitled: Seven Women Conductors Who Deserve Attention. The seven conductors featured represent a new generation of international artists who will likely change the face of major orchestras worldwide in the future.
It’s gratifying to know that Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day provide an opportunity for women composers and conductors to gain recognition and exposure. It’s what we do at Melodia Women’s Choir of NYC all year long!
Melodia’s May 14 concert: Cassandra: Myths & Stories in Song, is conducted by Cynthia Powell and features the world premiere of Hilary Purrington’s Cassandra, and works by Meredith Monk and Emma Lou Diemer. More details here. Tickets here.
Hilary Purrington, composer, left; Cynthia Powell, conductor, right