Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

Laura Kaminsky at American Opera Projects

by sarah - August 25, 2014

Laura Kaminsky will be taking over the position of Composer In Residence at American Opera Projects.  The company, based in Brooklyn, NY, states its mission as:

to identify, develop and present new and innovative works of music theater by emerging and established artists and to engage our audiences in an immersive, transformative theatrical experience.

At any given time they have numerous works in progress and are always seeking to further expand not only the opera repertoire, but also to continue to reinforce the relevance of opera and musical theatre in the contemporary musical landscape.

Kaminsky is a natural choice for the AOP’s composer in residence position, not only due to her experience and the accolades she has received for her work, but also because of the social and political topics that often find their way into her works.  The first piece AOP will present since announcing Kaminsky’s appointment is As One, a chamber opera for two voices, explores the identity and self realization of a transgender person.  More information about the piece can be read in the press release.  The world Premiere is September 4-7.

Here is a video of Kaminsky from New Music Box about how she approaches the creative process.

Follow Up: WQXR’s Emerging Women Marathon

by sarah - August 25, 2014

Leading up to the Emerging Women marathon on Sunday (August 24), WQXR has presented some statistics about the current role of women as composers in today’s music. The results are, as we’ve come to expect, unfortunate but not shocking.

In short:

Q2 Music has analyzed several key areas in contemporary classical music. In the U.S., women hold only 15% percent of composition faculty positions; women constitute under 15% of living composers whose works were featured on recent orchestral seasons and new-music series; and in the history of prestigious composition prizes, women obtain top honors only 9% of the time. While a handful of established women have risen to garner these elite awards and lucrative commissions, emerging composers still struggle to break through and get their music heard.

But, as the music historian in me is always eager to point out, we must also remember the ranks of women who have come before and whose voices have been long forgotten.

All of the statistics that were compiled for the piece reinforce the importance of the work we’re doing at Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy, as well as the importance of the marathon of works by women that I’m very much looking forward to on Sunday (and which will be repeated on the 28th).

To their credit, WQXR is doing their part to inform and engage listeners, and have done a fair job in not only acknowledging their own lack of representation (the article states that works by women only account for 14% of their current rotating library). In preparation for Sunday’s marathon they reached out to listeners for suggestions—and I am hopeful that we can expect a more robust regular playlist with more women’s voices moving forward. But they sum it up pretty well on their own:

For many years, critics have proclaimed the demise of classical music, and it’s hard to not point to obvious gender, not to mention racial, imbalance as reason for classical music’s continued relevance question.Efforts to prioritize diversity in programming and mentorship however have the counteracting effect of making for a healthier, more vibrant, and living ecosystem for all. So let’s listen and get to work!

Let’s get to work, indeed!  And don’t forget to listen in at WQXR.org.


American Music Project Kicks Off

by sarah - August 25, 2014

The newly-established American Music Project has been making a bit of buzz as of late. Formally announced on August 4, the nascent nonprofit is philosophically allied with Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy in not only recognizing a lack of presence in the current performance repertoire, but providing the means to a solution. AMP aims to increase the number of works by American composers included in programming, and will offer grants to provide incentive and means to do so—much like the Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy Performance Grants (which will be announced shortly) to provide funding for the performances of works by women composers.

In an interview published at ClassicElite.com executive director and founder of AMP, writer and critic Lawrence Johnson names several American composers that should be included in the common repertoire, but are all too often forgotten. Not surprisingly, Johnson didn’t mention any works by women composers among the list of great but under-appreciated and under-performed works.

To find out more about the grant process or to apply for funding see the AMP website. They encourage applicants to “be ambitious” and “imaginative”—a great opportunity for ensembles to propose performances of works by the long forgotten American women whose works are an important piece to the American musical landscape.  Why not Amy Beach’s Mass, or one of Florence Price’s Symphonies?  Or a concert of chamber works by Rebecca Clarke, Vivian Fine, Ruth Crawford Seeger, or Clara Kathleen Rogers?

The first commissioned piece by AMP is a Piano Quintet by Amy Wurtz. The piece will be premiered in Chicago on October 5 by the Chicago Q Ensemble.

Here is Part 1 of Wurtz’s String Quartet No. 2 performed by the Chicago Q Ensemble:


WQXR Presenting “Emerging Women” Marathon

by sarah - August 18, 2014

New York City’s premiere classical music station, WQXR, is presenting a 24-hour marathon of “Emerging Female Composers.” A poll that they ran in July asked listeners to suggest and then vote for a theme for the most recent installment of the series (The 24 on the 24th is a long running series).

When the votes came in, 50.9% of listeners voted to hear the voices of women.

Image from www.wqxr.org

The program will feature “emerging” female voices, to coincide with WQXR’s mission, and will be heard on August 24th with a repeat performance on August 28th. Though the music historian in me is a bit disappointed that historic voices won’t be represented, I’m thrilled that the program is happening, that the theme came from an audience poll, and that so many different women will be featured. Listeners are promised 24 hours of “distinct, no-repeats programming,” and are looking for input as to who should be included in the playlist. Visit the website to make your suggestion, and be sure to listen in on the 24th and 28th and support women’s voices!


New Release of Works by Unsuk Chin

by sarah - August 14, 2014

The Guardian just reviewed a new recording of three works by Unsuk Chin which will be released August 19—the Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto, and Šu, which was written for the sheng, a Chinese mouth organ. Chin’s Šu will be heard August 27 at the BBC Proms. For more information and tickets, see the official Proms website.  

Here is the first movement of the Cello Concerto from its premiere at the 2009 Proms:


The new release is available from Deutsche Grammophon.


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