Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

September 5, AMY BEACH DAY

by Liane Curtis - September 5th, 2017

“I, Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, do hereby declare September 5, 2017 to be: Amy Beach Day in the City of Boston. I urge all my fellow Bostonians to join me in recognizing and honoring Amy Beach as one of the most successful American composers.”


by Chris Trotman - September 4th, 2017

As this year marks Amy Beach’s 150th birthday, much is being done in celebration about this remarkable woman’s life and work! Numerous orchestras, choral ensembles, chamber ensembles and soloists around the world have performed or will be performing works by the pioneering American composer/pianist this year and next in celebration.  There are new recordings available this year featuring her works and new scholarship has and will be written about her.  Additionally, new musical editions, both revised and published for the first time, are available by a variety of publishers, such as Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy Publications!

Here are a few highlights of what is happening for her birthday celebration –

1) The City of Boston will be declaring September 5th as Amy Beach Day! (a separate post will be made with more information!)

2) The upcoming Amy Beach/Teresa Carreño Conference at University of New Hampshire on Sept. 15 & 16

3) An article entitled “Amy Beach, a Pioneering American Composer, Turns 150” by musicologist William Robin featured in the NYTimes!

4) An article entitled “Amy Beach First Female Composer to Have Her Music Played by a Major Orchestra” by Troy Lennon, Classmate and History Editor of The Daily Telegraph in New South Wales, Australia!

5) A number of orchestras have and will be performing Beach’s monumental “Gaelic” Symphony in E minor, Op. 32 Bal Masqué, Op. 22, and others (some using Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy Publications’ revised editions) as well as choral ensembles performing her Grand Mass in E-flat, Op. 5! (Keep watching our news feed as we post about upcoming concerts!)

Listen to FEMALE CONDUCTORS — a whole LOT of them!!

by Liane Curtis - December 11th, 2015

Back on Aug. 9, 2015, Jeremy Eichler (the Boston Globe’s classical music critic) annoyed me by repeatedly using male pronouns in an article about the art of conducting.  True, the article’s focus was the Boston SO’s new(ish) music director Andris Nelsons, but I bristled and rolled my eyes reading sentences like “…players can size up a new conductor in less than five minutes of watching him work” and “How important can he be if he’s the only one onstage making no sound at all?”   Eichler dismissed criticism of his practice with this aside:  “He – and yes, it’s still most often a he – channels the music’s profundities and surface delights.”  My response to Mr. Eichler sounds like a bumper-sticker of yore: If you aren’t part of the solution, then your part of the problem.  But I think my phrase rings true.  Eichler is a professional music critic, and by imposing and reinforcing this male norm in his article, he lost an opportunity to observe one of our themes of the year in this blog: the times they are a changin’  (no thanks to you, Mr. Eichler) and more women are striding boldly to the front of orchestras to take charge as artistic leaders.

I finally decided to write this down today on hearing WHRB was featuring “FEMALE CONDUCTORS” in one of this season’s “orgies.”   The radio station features an extended and concentrated examination of a theme or topic, most often individual composers, but other topics as well.  It is ALL DAY TODAY (Dec. 11-2015) to 10 PM, streaming online!

From the WHRB Program Guide:

FEMALE CONDUCTORS– In the 2012-2013 orchestra season, 80% of 800 American orchestras were conducted by males and 20% by females, including assistant and substitute conductors (and most of the women worked for smaller-budget/youth ensembles). Of 103 larger, high-budget American orchestras in the same year, 91% were conducted by men and 12% by women. 21 of the 22 highest budget US orchestras during that time were conducted by men. So who are these women conducting orchestras? This orgy spans several decades in the twentieth and twenty-first century, beginning with pieces conducted by Antonia Brico, who in 1930 was the first woman to lead the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and Nadia Boulanger, the French composer and teacher, who was probably the first woman to direct a major orchestra, as she was the first to conduct the Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. In the 1930’s, she conducted world premieres of works by Stravinsky and Copland, among others. Imogen Holst was the daughter of composer Gustav Holst and a colleague of Britten. Veronika Dudarova was the first Soviet woman conductor. The two most frequently recorded women conductors are JoAnn Falletta and Marin Alsop. The appointment of JoAnn Faletta as the Principal Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1999 was considered a symbolic turning point in the legacy of female conductors. Marin Alsop, who was appointed as the Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony in 2003 and, more famously, the Baltimore Symphony in 2007, was the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the BBC Proms, a momentous occasion.  We’ll also hear performances under Gisele Ben-Dor, Jane Glover, Sarah Caldwell, Eve Queler, Sian Edwards, Simone Young, and Emmanuelle Haïm, not exhausting the list of women conductors, but suggesting there are more of interest than commonly understood.

women-conductorsThe conductors featured in this image from Classic FM are from left to right, top to bottom: Anu Tali; Joana Carneiro; JoAnn Falletta; Han-na Chang, Sarah Ioannides; Barbara Hannigan; Shi-Yeon Sung; Susanna Malkki; and Marin Alsop

Update: Marin Alsop at Harvard

by sarah - March 28th, 2015

marin_alsopUpdate: The Harvard Review reports on the conversation with Alsop, as she received the distinguished Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award

Original post:  Internationally acclaimed conductor Marin Alsop will be at Harvard University on March 24 to receive the Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award.

That Alsop is being honored is no surprise.  Her innovative programming, educational and outreach efforts in Baltimore, and championing contemporary music with the Cabrillo Festival are all noteworthy.  She has also had the awkward-at-times honor of being the first woman to help open opportunities for others.


Her firsts include:

  • First woman to be awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize from the Tanglewood Music Center (1989)
  • First conductor to receive a MacArthur Fellowship (2005)
  • First woman named Music Director of a Major American Symphony – the Baltimore Orchestra (2007)
  • The only classical musician to be named in The Guardian’s “Top 10 women” in honor of International Women’s Day in 2011.
  • First woman to conduct the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms (2013)

Here is Alsop’s speech at the final night of the 2013 Proms:

For more about Alsop, her upbringing, education, and career visit the Makers website for an excellent documentary.

Before the award ceremony on Tuesday Alsop will engage with the audience in a conversation about her work.  The event will be held at 4pm and admission is free – seating is first come, first serve, so plan to arrive early!  More information here.

Amy Beach’s European Successes Recalled by Musical America; article of 100 years ago reprinted

by Liane Curtis - October 25th, 2014

Beach-headlineThe noted publication Musical America recalled Amy Beach’s travels and concertizing a century ago, by reprinting an article from October 17, 1914 that interviewed the composer and gave details of her trip.

Musical America offered links to a scanned version of the original article (PDF), and also to a reprinting of the text.  Written during Beach’s shipboard return following several years in Europe, it notes her successful performances, both as a pianist, and also by ensembles, including major orchestras.  The author also gives us a sense of Beach’s personality, for instance, when Beach is asked if she plans to write an opera, “Her face lit up. It is a most expressive one, by the way, and her blue eyes talk out of it very winningly.”   And the origins of Beach’s “hit” song, “The Year’s At The Spring,” are recounted. Enjoy!Beach-the-years