Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

Music for the Women’s March on Washington

by sarah - January 19th, 2017

On Saturday January 21 activists and allies will be meeting in Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington, in addition to over 600 sister marches that have sprung up throughout the world in solidarity.  The mission and vision of the Women’s March on Washington is simple and clear:

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

(Read the full mission statement, as well as the Guiding Principals and Unity Principals of the march on the official website.)

We at Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy stand in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and are ready to be a strong voice in fighting for inclusiveness, diversity, and equality.

All great social and political movements need anthems and rally cries.  Pop musician Fiona Apple has already released her contribution, which makes references to “tiny hands”.   But we can turn to history for powerful and unifying songs.  One of the most famous examples being Dame Ethel Smyth’s suffrage anthem, “March of the Women”.

The song was popular throughout the British suffragette movement, sung in rallies as well as in jail cells.  The moving 2015 film “Suffragette” made prominent use of the song, as did the 1974 BBC series about the suffrage movement “Shoulder to Shoulder”  — which drew its title from this wonderful last verse of the song:

Life, strife—those two are one,
Naught can ye win but by faith and daring.
On, on—that ye have done
But for the work of today preparing.
Firm in reliance, laugh a defiance,
(Laugh in hope, for sure is the end)
March, march—many as one,
Shoulder to shoulder and friend to friend.

Smyth spent years devoted to the Women’s Suffrage cause, and even went to jail for it, so I am sure that she is together in spirit (as well as with her rousing anthem) with all those who will be in the Women’s March on Washington, and in all the many events being organized worldwide in solidarity.  As we finish our signs, hats, rally cries, and brace ourselves for the inevitable battles we will wage throughout the next administration, let’s also remember the women who came before us, and feel empowered by their lasting work.

Here is a majestic choral and orchestra version of the March of the Women

And here is a solo voice (plus accompaniment) version from “Shoulder to Shoulder.”

Should you wish to see more of the 1974 “Shoulder to Shoulder” series, this page has some clips and links to one full episode.

Concerts of Old and New Music

by sarah - January 18th, 2017

We’re always thrilled to share announcements of coming concerts featuring works by women composers!  This week we are especially thrilled to see two ensembles who are embracing contemporary and historic composers in their performances.

The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra will be performing at an Alumni Even in Chicago on January 21 and at the college on January 24.  Every work on the program was composed by a woman.  The pieces include Louise Farrenc’s Symphony No. 3, Karen LeFrak’s Ivan’s Song, and Nkeiru Okoye’s Songs of Harriet Tubman and Invitation to a Die-In.  We at WPA are thrilled to support this concert in part through a WPA Performance Grant!  The excellent programming demonstrates how the diverse, engaging, and relevant women’s work in music continues to be – and how more of it deserves to be heard on concert stages.  Find out more information about the concert in Chicago here, and the free event at Mount Holyoke College here.

Also this weekend, the Michigan Philharmonic, led by Nan Washburn, will perform Judith Shatin’s Spin and Louise Farrenc’s Nonet in E-Flat Major, Op. 38, on January 20 and January 22.

The concert, titled “Miniature Masterpieces” also includes Serenade for Flute, Harp, and String Quartet by William Grant Still – an often ignored African American composer.  Find out more information, and purchase tickets, here.

And be sure to have a listen to some of the music being performed this weekend below:

Monday Link Round Up: January 16, 2017

by sarah - January 16th, 2017

News to start your week!

Today is the last day to donate to our Generosity.com campaign!  Please give what you can and help make the campaign as impactful as possible in funding grants to ensembles who wish to play more diverse repertoire!  Learn more below, and give here!

Don’t miss the sixth episode of Listening to Ladies podcast, featuring a conversation with Lainie Fefferman.  Learn more at the website – or download and subscribe through iTunes!

The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin has named Nathalie Stutzmann as Principal Guest Conductor beginning next season.  Stutzmann first made her mark as a contralto, but has turned her focus to conducting in recent years, including a performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra in December.  Read the official press release here, and learn more about Stutzmann on her official website.

The Minnesota Star Tribune speaks with the associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, Roderick Cox, and his passion to create more diverse audiences for classical music events.  It is an important topic, and one that deserves more attention.  Not only do audiences need to see more diversity represented in the musicians on stage, but also in the music that is being programmed.

What did we miss?  What are you reading?  Leave us a link in a comment and let us know!

Thank You to Our Donors!

by sarah - January 13th, 2017

Thank you to all of the donors to our Generosity campaign!  We have made progress in raising funds necessary to offer our Performance Grants again in 2017 – but this amazing program could use more support!

Our Generosity Campaign is ending on Tuesday, January 17, and we would love to raise an additional $2,500 between now and then to make sure that we can be the most effective as possible in encouraging community, professional, and youth orchestras to program works by diverse composers

Please give – and spread the word about our campaign!  Each dollar will go directly to our grant program (not administrative costs), and as a registered 501c3, your gift is tax-deductible!

Please give a gift today, voice your support for the performance of works by women composers, and help influence classical music programming for seasons to come!

A Great Start to the New Year

by sarah - January 11th, 2017

We are excited to spread the word on great concerts featuring women composers in the coming days from winners of WPA Performance Grants!  We are especially excited that these two ensembles are giving voice to historic composers who are no longer able to advocate for their own works.

The Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is including Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Overture in C in a concert entitled, “Unfinished Romantic” that will be heard on January 14 & 15.  Tickets and more information, including excellent program notes by Mark Arnest about the extraordinary opportunities and challenges that Hensel faced during her composing career, can be found here.  Those lucky enough to attend will also be treated to a pre-concert lecture with Dr. Tania Z. Cronin of Colorado College.  Get a preview of this excellent work as performed by The Women’s Philharmonic below:



Also this weekend (January 14 & 15) the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra of Boulder, Colorado, will be performing the rarely heard Concerto for Horn and Violin by Dame Ethel Smyth.  The concert program is titled “Brahms and His World”.  The inclusion of Smyth’s work is especially appropriate considering the influence of Brahms, and other German composers, is very apparent throughout Smyth’s compositional style.  There is also an opportunity to meet the soloists, Jennifer Frautschi and Eric Ruske, at an event on January 13 – what a fabulous opportunity to learn more about the musician’s connection to the work!  Find out more information and order tickets here.  Get a taste for this excellent work below:


Congratulations to these two winners – and kudos to your excellent programming!