Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

Monday Link Round Up: July 30, 2018

by sarah - July 30th, 2018

News and music to start your week!

A fascinating article by composer Jenny Giering who compares her own experiences with visions she experienced with migraines and the visions described by Abbess Hildegard von Bingen as she received music and instruction.  It is featured in a series discussing disability in The New York Times.

Siobhán Cleary

Irish composer Siobhán Cleary has brought to light the systematic and persistent discrimination that can be found in the music world.  The Irish Times just reported the Cleary has turned down a commission offered by two Irish Arts Council-funded organizations because she was offered 20% less than her male colleagues have been for the same commission.

Anne Midgette and Peggy McGlone co-authored an extensive piece for The Washington Post about the culture of sexual harassment and abuse in the classical music community.  The article details many specific incidents, and how the #MeToo movement can impact changes moving forward.

I Care if You Listen spoke to Gabriella Smith about her music, where she finds inspiration, and the challenges with working with vastly different forms and ensembles.

Finally, we wanted to share Inge Klopfer‘s “So sexistisch ist die Klassik  — Classical Music is So Sexist” which appeared on June 13, 2018 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  So here’s our translation of it!

We’d love to hear from you!  Write us at [email protected]!

Tuesday Link Round Up: May 29, 2018

by sarah - May 29th, 2018

News and music to start your week after a meaningful Memorial Day:

Happy 90th birthday to Thea Musgrave!  We did a round up of stories about the Scottish American composer’s life – but don’t miss the conversation Musgrave had with NPR.

Thrilled to hear that Roderick Cox has been named the 2018 recipient of the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, given to outstanding young U.S. conductors to guide their careers.  Cox is currently the associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra.  Read more at the Star Tribune.

The 66th annual BMI Student Composers Awards have been announced!  The nine recipients (aged 18-26) were presented by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Chair of the Student Composers Awards.  The winners included Katherine Balch, Gabriella Smith, and Amy Thompson.  Learn more at NewMusicBox.

As the #MeToo movement continues to bring to light – and into conversation – the systemic problems of sexual abuse.  NPR’s Lulu Garcia-navarro spoke to Leah Hawkins and Alexis Romano (both opera singers) and Kim Witman (vice president of opera at Wolf Trap in Virginia) about their experiences.   Learn more at the website, and listen below:

Contemporary Women at Cabrillo

by sarah - August 4th, 2017

The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music has celebrated new music for 55 years – performing, commissioning, and advocating for the works of the greatest living composers, as well as creating opportunities for young composers to have their works heard.  After decades of dedicated leadership, Marin Alsop has handed the reigns of the Festival to Cristian Macelaru, who is directing his first Festival this year, with an impressive line up of concerts and events already underway!

The Festival, which takes place July 30 through August 12, features the work of four contemporary women.

On Friday, August 4, the Festival will present the World Premiere of Clarice Assad’s Ad Infinitum, a new percussion concerto commissioned by the Festival.  As an even bigger treat, Evelyn Glennie will be performing. Learn more here.

Gabriela Lena Frank’s Three Latin American Dances will be heard on Saturday, August 5 in the same concert as Cindy McTee’s Double Play.  McTee will also have her Symphony No. 1 performed on Friday, August 11.

Gabriella Smith’s newest work, Field Guide, which was commissioned by the Festival as a tribute for the celebration of John Adams’ 70th birthday, will be heard on Saturday, August 12.

For those of us who can’t make it to Santa Cruz for the Festival, listen in to some of the works being performed on our Spotify Playlist:

2014 Cabrillo Festival

by sarah - July 30th, 2014

In the latest edition of works by women at a Festival near you, the 2014 Cabrillo Festival will begin this weekend in Santa Cruz, California.  The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, which was founded in 1962, has been under the baton of Artistic Director Marin Alsop since 1992.  Alsop has helped bring many new works by women to listeners’ ears at the two-week long festival.  This year Cabrillo will feature six works by contemporary women.

Today, July 30, the three students selected for the Conductors/Composers workshop will have their new works heard in a free concert.  One of the students selected for this opportunity and recognition is Emily Cooley, a recent Yale graduate who will continue her studies at the Curtis Institute in the fall.


Emily Cooley


On August 2 the concert will feature two works by women.  Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto 4-3 –  you can listen to clips of the work, read Higdon’s program notes about it, and even order the score for yourself on Higdon’s website.

Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer Higdon


TJ Cole’s Megalopolis will also have its West Coast Premiere.  Have a listen here.

TJ Cole

TJ Cole


August 9 the Festival will host the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s Tumblebird Contrails, which was commissioned by the Festival.

Gabriella Smith

Gabriella Smith

The final concerts on August 10 will hear Thunderwalker by Stacy Garrop



and Dreamscapes by Clarice Assad.


Have a listen to Assad’s work here:


A great lineup of contemporary women, and some excellent concerts that shouldn’t be missed!




Orpheus Chamber Orchestra – Project 440

by sarah - October 18th, 2010

In celebration of their fortieth year, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra established Project 440 to commission four separate works from four contemporary composers.  Working together with WQXR 105.9 FM in New York they invited listeners to become an active part of the selection process.  After a panel of “artists and industry experts” nominated a group of 60 candidates listeners were invited to explore composer biographies and audio samples, leaving comments and their attempts to sway the selection committee.

Of the four final composers was one woman, Cynthia Wong.  She was one of three women to make it to the second round of finalists – included with her were Yu-Hui Chang and Paola Prestini.

Other women that were part of the original 60 include Amy Kirsten, Wang Jie, Paula Matthusen, Missy Mazzoli, Polina Nazaykinskaya, Laura Andel, Gabriella Smith, Beata Moon, Ann Millikan, and Zibuokle Martinaityte.

In total, 13 women composers were included in the first round – not quite half, which is a positive sign.  I am curious about the selection process as a whole and the transparency of it all.  It seems as if the selection committee made a very conscious effort to be inclusive with candidates in the first round – of gender, nationality, and race.  However, I still feel that the time when instituting blind auditions as a radical new step in ensuring fair evaluation of performance was not that long ago.  Though we certainly have come a long way from that first step, I don’t think we are “there” yet.  Not to suggest that this process was inherently biased in some way – I will just offer that it would have been interesting to see what the results would look like if after the initial selections were made the composer’s identity was not revealed in conjunction with their works.  After all, from an incredibly diverse selection of sixty composers the winners were three white men and a Chinese-American woman.

I feel that judging artist merit is inherently an incredibly difficult process and entirely subjective.  Congratulations to all the composers that were nominated, and especially to those that will be composing for Orpheus, and who will premiere their works in the 2011-12 season.