In the research that I have done about the performance of works by women composers in major American symphonies, what is only slightly more surprising than the prevalence of works written by dead, white, men is the number of solo pieces that are performed during a concert season.
Perhaps the best way to infuse concert halls with a wider variety of works, representative of the range of composers that are generally neglected, is to encourage soloists to add pieces their repertoire.
Hilary Hahn, the highly acclaimed violinist who is a champion of music education and the encouragement of young musicians, is known for a virtuosic repertoire. Her international reputation is hard to ignore, and neither is her Grammy. But while I appreciate her diligent work, I have always wished that she would broaden her repertoire from Bach, Beethoven, and the other boys. Turns out, my wish is soon to be granted.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will host Hilary Hahn in February to give the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto. The work, which was commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Curtis Institute Symphony Orchestra.
The work, which was written for Ms. Hahn, will be heard first February 6th, and will hopefully tour with her for some time to come. If you are in the Indianapolis area you can catch the premiere February 6th at 8, or again February 7th at 5:30. Ticket information is here.
Ms. Higdon is one of the most performed American composers today (behind Joan Tower), and has written works for other women soloists. Higdon’s The Singing Rooms (for solo violin, SATB chorus, and orchestra, (commissioned by The Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra) was premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra on January 17th of this year with Jennifer Koh.
Ms. Koh also premiered Higdon’s String Poetic in 2006, which was commissioned for her by San Francisco Performances, The Carlsen Center at John County Community College, the 92nd Street Y, Oberlin College Conservatory and The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.