Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

Tania León at Harvard

by sarah - April 16, 2015

taniaComposer Tania León will be at Harvard TODAY at 4:00 p.m. for a conversation about her work and music.  León will be discussing many aspects of her career including her work in composition, conducting, teaching, and arts leadership.

The event is free and open to the public. More information here.

This weekend the Harvard University Music Department and International Contemporary Ensemble will present two concerts – each featuring a work by León.  Friday’s event will include Toque, as well as works by Gabriela Ortiz, Marisol Jimenez, and Hilde Paredes.  Saturday’s concert will include León’s Indigena.  These concerts are also free, and shouldn’t be missed!  More  information here.


Mount Holyoke Plays Hopekirk

by sarah - April 15, 2015

MHThe Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra, winner of a 2014 Performance Grant, will have their final concert of the season on Friday, April 17 featuring Helen Hopekirk’s Concertstück.

Helen Hopekirk (1856-1945) was a Scottish pianist and composer who immigrated to the United States in 1897 when she accepted an invitation to teach at the New England Conservatory.  Hopekirk was fortunate to live and work in Boston at a time when women composers were not so unusual.  Other women composing at this time included Amy Beach, Margaret Ruthann Lang, Mabel Daniels, Clara Kathleen Rogers, and others.

Hopekirk’s Concertstück was composed in 1894.  The Boston Symphony Orchestra gave the work it’s American premiere, where Hopekirk included these program notes:

It will be noticed that the Concertstück is moulded pretty much on classical lines at its opening, but as it develops there is a characteristic freedom of form, and what may be called fantastic flavour, redolent of northern breezes and heathery hills. After a ff chord from the orchestra the pianoforte arrests our attention with a prelude. The orchestra then announces the Allegro con fuoco, which enters piano but increases rapidly to assume a wild and barbaric character. The second subject, which is like a plaintive love-song, is first delivered by cellos and violas, answered by the piano, then the full orchestra. An orchestral tutti, built on the prelude and the barbaric theme, leads to the development. After brilliant passages for the piano, the cadenza enters like a melancholy recitative on the first subject, capricious and fanciful transformations succeeding each other. A feature of the cadenza is the introduction of the oboe, which lingers with dreamy tenderness over the main theme, while the piano supplies soft harp-like harmonies. The short Presto finale provides a tutti conclusion.

More information about Hopekirk (including scores and recordings) can be found at the Scottish Music Centre.

This concert is free and open to the public – find more information here.

IAWM 2015 Congress

by sarah - April 14, 2015

IAWM-logo-v10The International Alliance for Women in Music is holding their Congress this week in an exciting and wonderfully inclusive and accessible online format.

The 20th Anniversary Congress is completely online with live-streamed concerts, papers, and lecture-recitals.  Anyone can access the material for free – but attendees are asked to register.  The events will be happening all week (April 13-19) – so be sure to stop by and listen in on the livestream or pull up an archived presentation.

Some highlights include:

  • Liane Curtis, President of Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy and The Rebecca Clarke Society, speaking about Clarke’s early pieces for Violin
  • Kendra Leonard discussing the life of Louise Talma
  • Sabrina Peña Young talking about her work Libertaria: The Virtual Opera, which she composed though online collaboration.
  • And many, many excellent performances of works by women!

Join in on the conversations at the Congress website – and let us know in the comments below what your favorite paper or performance was!

Salem Chamber Orchestra Performs Grzesik

by sarah - April 10, 2015

SCOThe Salem Chamber Orchestra, winner of a 2014 Performance Grant, will feature the work of Polish composer Ashia Grzesik on their performance on Sunday, April 12.  

Grzesik performs with The Bison Rouge, exploring a range of musical genres:

Ashia’s songs and compositions, written and sung with the cello, loop station, ukulele, effects, and vocals, reflect her longing for her Slavic roots, while adding the pop, rock, indie folk, and classical of the land she grew up in.

We are excited bout this innovative programming and the opportunity to attract a diverse audience and begin important conversations about classical music today and the role of women in creating and performing that music.

Tickets and information can be found here.

Allentown Symphony Orchestra World Premiere

by sarah - April 8, 2015


The Allentown Symphony Orchestra, winner of a 2014 Performance Grant, will be giving the World Premiere of Ode to Joy Fanfare by Diane Wittry on Saturday, April 11.  The work was written to precede Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  Wittry has this to say about the work:

It’s the melody that everyone who attends the concert wants to hear, but “Ode to Joy,” with words based on a poem by Friedrich Schiller in 1785, sung by four soloists and a chorus doesn’t occur until about 45 minutes into the piece.

To solve this dilemma, I decided to write an “Ode to Joy Fanfare” to start off the Beethoven Ninth concert of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, 8 p.m. April 11 and 2 p.m. April 12. This way, you can hear your favorite melody right at the beginning of the concert. It is almost like getting to eat desert first.

In my fanfare, I didn’t want to give away the entire melody too soon, so I selected a variety of musical snippets from the movements of the Ninth Symphony and created what I jokingly refer to as “Beethoven Nine in a blender.” I start with a quote of the opening of the last movement, but after that, I give you just fragments and musical motifs that float in and out of the sound.

These are all hints of great themes to come. The “Ode to Joy” melody appears slowly in the piece, just a few notes at a time tossed around the orchestra, but finally when you do hear it completely, it is played not by the members of the Allentown Symphony, but by 30 young string students from the El Sistema Lehigh Valley program. I wanted us to remember the beauty of brotherhood for all mankind, as seen through the eyes of a child.

Diane Wittry is known primarily as a conductor and is currently the Music Director of the Allentown Symphony and the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Ridgewood Symphony as well as the Artistic Director for the International Cultural Exchange Program for Classical Musicians.

Her composition career began in 2008, but her works have already garnered national and international attention.  Her work is published by the Theodore Presser Company.

More information and tickets to Saturday’s concert available here.

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