Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

Beach’s Work to be Performed in Colorado

by sarah - April 27th, 2018


This weekend the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs in Colorado Springs, Colorado will be presenting their final concert of their season titled Timeless Voices and will feature the work of Mozart, Beethoven, and Amy Beach’s symphony.

Beach’s work, Symphony in E Minor, Op. 32, “Gaelic”, is the first symphony we know of composed by an American woman – and is considered by some to be one of the greatest American symphonies of the period.  It is an important and impressive work that has been gaining in popularity in recent years – thanks in part to the new edition available through Women’s Philharmonic Publishing, and the 150th anniversary of Amy Beach’s birth.

The Program Notes offered by the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs provide excellent insight to the history of the work, and the challenges that Beach faced at the time:

Whatever the world lost by Beach abandoning her performing career, it gained by Beach concentrating on composition. But her success was hard-won. Though her husband was enormously supportive of her creative work, his support was conditional: He did not allow her to have a professional composition teacher, out of concern that her individuality might be overwhelmed. (Not to mention that, in an age when female composers were almost unheard-of, such a teacher would have been male, a possible source of concern for a middle-aged man with a very young wife.) No other composer of Beach’s era had so little contact with her peers, or had to figure out so much on her own.

Nevertheless, she persisted, and by 1893 was so well-respected in Boston that she was one of a group of American musicians invited to respond in the Boston Herald to Antonin Dvořák’s call for an American music based on African American melodies. No, she wrote; composers should look to their own heritage for their material: “We of the North should be far more likely to be influenced by the old English, Scotch, or Irish songs, inherited with our literature from our ancestors.”

Read the full program notes online here – and don’t miss the preview interview with Music Director Thomas Wilson:


The Chamber Orchestra of the Springs will perform Timeless Voices on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday April 29.  Find out more information, and get your tickets in advance, here.


Symphony Number One Comes Home this Weekend

by sarah - October 20th, 2017

This weekend Symphony Number One will present the world premiere of a new work by Carolyn Chen.  The concert, titled “Coming Home”, will take place at the Baltimore War Memorial – the site of the inaugural concert by the ensemble in 2015.

The events this weekend, with concerts on October 21 and 22, will include Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7, Chen’s Animalcules, and a new arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner dedicated to The War Memorial Commission by Mark Maarder, a local veteran and composer.

Carolyn Chen is an internationally acclaimed American composer based in California.  She says this about her music:

I make music to look into the inner lives of things. This can involve the exploration of social spaces (covert operations in a supermarket or blindfolded navigation of a demolished house), or the physical mechanics of everyday objects in motion (spinning tops on a timpani, or rustling heaps of everyday detritus worn as wind-chime-armor on L.A. streets). My work brings music and sound in conversation with space, text, light, and action. Whether translating Orpheus into silent tableaux vivant in rhythms of light and dark, or a Bruckner Adagio into slow-motion facial gymnastics, I mine listening habits for less-traveled paths, working with sound as a physical as well as a social experience.

Learn more about the ensemble on their website – and be sure to listen in to their recordings.  Their third album, More, was recently released and includes Natalie Draper’s Timelapse Variations which was written for the ensemble.

Old and New This Weekend

by sarah - October 11th, 2017

More great concerts this weekend – in California by the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, in Maryland by the Susquehanna Symphony, and in Colorado by the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs.


The Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, directed by Dawn Harms, will be including Amy Beach’s Symphony in E minor (Gaelic) in a program that will also include works by Brahms and Barber.  It’s wonderful to have Beach’s work being heard at any time, but especially meaningful now as it is the 150th anniversary of her birth!

Learn more about the concert on October 14 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music here.

Join the celebration by having a listen to Beach’s symphony ahead of this weekend’s concert:


Across the country, The Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra, led by Sheldon Bair, is kicking off their season with Elegy by Philadelphia based composer Amanda Harberg.  Elegy was originally written for Viola and String Orchestra, but has be readapted by the composer for full orchestra in 2014.  Learn more about the concert on October 14 in Bel Air, Maryland here.

Have a sneak peak of Elegy in its original form below:



And for very new music the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs in Colorado Springs will present a newly orchestrated work by Ingrid Stölzel.  The ensemble commissioned Stölzel to orchestrate her Soul Journey: Three Whitman Songs, which was originally written for voice and piano.

The concert will feature will be presented on October 14th and October 15 with preconcert lectures from the composer.  Find out more information, and read the program notes, here.   


Great Works This Weekend

by sarah - October 3rd, 2017

There are great concerts to look forward to this weekend from several WPA Performance Grant winners!


The Denver Young Artists Orchestra will be hosting a Women in Music Symposium at the Lamont School of Music on October 7 & 8.  There will be concerts, conversations, and discussions about the history and continuing challenges facing women composers.  The featured concert for the weekend will take place on October 8 with a performance of Hilary Tann’s Open Field.



The Rogue Valley Symphony will be presenting the World Premiere of Cantus by I’lana Cotton on October 6, 7, & 8.  The piece was commissioned by the symphony – read the program notes, and what the composer writes about the work, here.  More information about the concert is also available here.



On October 6 the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra will present an exciting concert featuring the works of Jennifer Jolley as well as S. Coleridge Taylor and Evan Williams.  The concert, titled “Lineage & Heritage II” challenges notions of what composers “should” look like, and demonstrates the value that exists in diverse concert programming.  Learn more about the concert, and the composers – including a video interview with Evan Williams – here.



What an exciting weekend of concerts!  And the first of many as we jump into the 2017-2018 concert season!!

Stockton Symphony Plays Thea Musgrave

by sarah - September 20th, 2017

The Stockton Symphony is opening their 2017-2018 season on Saturday, September 23 with a great, and inclusive, program.  In addition to Tchaikovsky Brahms, and Berlioz, conductor Peter Jaffe has chosen to include Rainbow (1990) by Thea Musgrave.


Musgrave, who will be celebrating her 90th birthday in May, 2018, was born in Scotland but has lived and worked in the United States since 1972.  A student of Nadia Boulanger and Aaron Copland, she has written extensively for orchestra, as well as completed twelve operas.  Her operatic works often feature a historical woman as the central character, including Mary, Queen of Scots (1977) and Harriet, the Woman Called Moses (1985).  Her orchestral works demonstrate Musgrave’s interest in programmatic writing, as well as the inspiration she finds in the visual arts.  The composer said this about Rainbow:

Rainbow is soundscape in both a literal and a figurative sense. In nature, of course, a rainbow heralds the end of a storm and the reappearance of the sun. Rainbow begins with a quiet expressive oboe solo accompanied by a sustained A major chord (representing the sun), soon to be overwhelmed by the approaching storm which erupts violently in a fast tumultuous section.

Eventually the storm dies away and the rainbow appears; a lyrical theme accompanied by three major chords (the three primary colours of the spectrum: red, yellow, blue). When the rainbow fades, the sun blazes out; the A major chord accompanying the initial oboe melody, now played by all the violins. The brass adds a chorale of thanksgiving, bringing a mood of calm confident fulfillment.


Learn more about the upcoming performance at Stockton Symphony here – and learn more about Musgrave’s work through the Program Notes for this performance.