Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

Congratulations to Michelle Merrill

by sarah - October 24, 2014

The Detroit Symphony just announced that Michelle Merrill has been appointed the orchestra’s new Assistant Conductor.

Image from www.micelle-merrill.com

Image from www.michelle-merrill.com

According to the DSO press release,

As Assistant Conductor, Merrill will act as cover conductor for all classical series concerts, as well as conduct DSO’s Young People’s Family Concerts, Education Concert Series programs, and occasional Pops series programs.

Merrill is a rising star in the conducting world, and was the recipient of the Ansbacher Conducting Fellowship in 2013.  In an interview with the Detroit News where, predictably, the gender question was raised:

Merrill stands out in the conductor field on two counts. First, at 30, she’s young in a profession that ordinarily favors age. In addition, she acknowledges she’s the rare woman in the field, but shrugs off any significance to that. (She is not, however, the first woman in this position at the DSO.)

“I don’t ever really think about it,” Merrill says, “but it is unusual. When I’ve done conducting workshops, I’d often be the only woman. But it never occurred to me I needed to break some glass ceiling or anything,” she adds. “Conducting is just what I wanted to do.”

Which is to say that I am hopeful that even though it is painfully slow, progress is being made.  There have been several notable appointments this year which is slowly challenging who a conductor is supposed to be, and look like.  And perhaps with each new appointment the gender question will become less compelling to interviewers.

Congrats to Merrill and best of luck in the new position!

Amy Beach at the Library of Congress

by sarah - October 22, 2014

I had the opportunity to explore a bit of the archives at the Library of Congress when completing my Master’s thesis.  It was a thrilling experience – and one I hope to repeat when time allows, and research requires.  The LOC is such a treasure to any scholar or armchair historian who can request to see amazing documents and pieces of American history.  In addition to housing and caring for countless pieces of archival material, the LOC also does a wonderful job at educating the public, including a series of concerts and lectures.

On Friday, October 24 the St. Lawrence String Quartet, featuring pianist Pedja Muzijevic, will perform Amy Beach’s Quintet for piano and strings in F sharp minor, op. 67.  For more information about the concert check the LOC website (apparently the concert is already sold out, but rush tickets are available!)

While the LOC doesn’t hold Beach’s papers (they are at the University of New Hampshire), the LOC archives do contain quite a bit of material related to Beach’s life and work – including several manuscripts.  You can read a bit more about Beach at the LOC Performing Arts Blog, In the Muse.

For those of us who can’t make it to D.C. for the concert, we can enjoy the piece below:

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs 1873 Overture by Elfrida Andrée

by Liane Curtis - October 19, 2014

In its three performances this weekend, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra took a monumental step in bringing to light an 1873 Overture by Swedish composer Elfrida Andrée (1841-1929).  The concerts have been led by guest conductor Arild Remmereit. Devoted readers will remember that we honored Remmereit and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in the spring of 2012, for having programmed works by women in every concert that season, including some monumental works like Amy Beach’s Symphony.  We gave him and the RPO the AMY award in recognition of this brilliant programming and artistic excellence.  Remmereit continues this visionary work this weekend in Baltimore, in what is the East Coast premiere and only the third modern performance of the Concert Ouverture in D major by Elfrida Andrée.   Elfrida

Andrée’s work has been edited and championed by the musicologist and violinist, Dr. Susan Pickett (of Whitman College in eastern WA) for many years.  The Norwegian Remmereit shares Scandinavian identity with Andrée, and her music is on the program this weekend with works by Mozart, and her contemporary, Tchaikovsky.

Andrée was a remarkable pioneer, serving as a professional organist in Stockholm and Göteborg (Gothenburg), although she first had to work to change a law, so that she would be permitted to do so.  Andrée most likely conducted the premiere herself in its premiere in Berlin in 1888.  The work then languished in an archive for more than 100 years until Dr. Pickett worked to edit it and have it performed in 1998 by the Walla Walla Symphony in Washington. The Swedish radio Symphony then performed it in 1999.  The performances this weekend are only the third modern performances, so there is quite a lot of excitement around bring this orchestral work to light.

The program for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert is here http://issuu.com/baltsymphony/docs/september_october_final (you can search for Elfrida)

Congratulations to Maestro Remmereit, Dr. Susan Pickett and the Baltimore Symphony for letting audiences share in this remarkable and majestic Ouverture. A recording of the Swedish Radio Symphony playing the Overture can be heard on YouTube.

New CD by Helen Grime

by sarah - October 16, 2014

Fiona Maddocks of The Guardian has a review up of a new CD of Helen Grime’s works.  The recording, titled Night Songs, features the Clarinet concertoInto the Faded AirA Cold SpringEveryone Sang, and Near Midnight – all works that make references to poems.

You can read the review here, and listen below to the premiere performance of Night Songs which was a commission for the BBC Proms in 2012.

Winners Chosen for EarShot Commissions

by sarah - October 14, 2014

The League of American Orchestras together with EarsShot, and with support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, have announced the first commissions of new symphonic works by women composers.  The new commissions, which were first announced in February, comes from the same foundation which also seeks out new operas by women composers.

The winners this year, who will receive a $15,000 commission fee for a 15 minute work, are Julia Adolphe and Melody Eotvos.

Read the announcement in the New York Times here, and check out some works by the winners below:

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