Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

Monday Link Round Up: March 20, 2017

by sarah - March 20th, 2017

News to start your week!


We were just made aware of Gramophone‘s contribution in honor of International Women’s Day.  They’ve compiled a list of historic female composers that are worth listening to and – perhaps most notably – have decent recordings available.  This highlights an important issue of the lack of representation of works by women composers not just in concert halls, but in recorded media as well.  Read on here.


Musicologist and conductor Laurie Stras writes about her discovery of 16th century motets in The Guardian.  Stras argues that these works, which are anonymously published, are the works of the youngest daughter of Lucrezia Borgia.  Read more about the discovery, and new recording, here.


The California Symphony has announced that Katherine Blach has won the position of Young American Composer in Residence.  Blach is currently pursing a DMA at Columbia.  Read more in the press release from the California Symphony website.


Alex Ross featured Missy Mazzoli string quartet Death Valley Junction on his blog – very much worth a visit and a listen!


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

Monday Link Round Up: December 5, 2016

by sarah - December 5th, 2016

News to start your week!

On December 1 the Met Opera performed  L’Amour de Loin by Kaija Saariaho.  This historic Met premiere marked only the second time a work by a woman composer has been heard at the institution – the last being over a century ago.  Many great stories and conversations have already come out of this event, and I’m sure there are more to come!  Here are some highlights.

David Patrick Stearns has a review on WQXR.

New Music Box has a profile of Saariaho’s career that led to having her work heard in one of the greatest opera venues in the world.

NPR had a conversation with Saariaho on Weekend Edition Saturday – read online, or listen below:

The news of the premiere has also created a spotlight on other women composers.  Even MentalFloss has a profile of Ethel Smyth – the first woman composer to have her work performed at the Met, in 1903.  And Alice Gregory of The New York Times has a woman-only history of classical music that is a good start (though rather abbreviated) history of the work of women in music.  But, we need to start somewhere, right?

For more on contemporary women’s voices, have a listen to BBC Radio 3’s Inspiring Women in Music series – and a conversation with composer Nicola LeFanu.

Finally, Gramophone Magazine notes the value of diverse music – but also the significant lack of recordings of works by women composers.  There are recordings out there – though not always still commercially available (and who shops used CD stores anymore?)  But this speaks to a wider problem of encouraging contemporary performers to record historic and contemporary works by women composers.

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

The Verdict is In!

by sarah - November 21st, 2008

There has been a recent buzz about the list of the world’s top symphonies that Gramophone has put together. It seems to have taken many classical music enthusiasts by surprise that the top American orchestra (listed as number five) is the Chicago Symphony. The Cleveland Orchestra is listed as number seven.

The story and complete listings can be found via NPR here.

The rankings were determined after polling music critics from the United States, Europe and Asia who were asked to list their top 20 orchestras. James Inverne, editor for U.S. Gramophone suggests that the difference between Chicago and the rest of the U.S. Symphonies was their distinct sound – particularly the strength of the brass. Others have also credited Chicago with their excellent financial status, which is a rarity in most orchestras.

In my own research (that I have of about before, if only briefly) concerning the recent repertoire of the top American orchestras, the Chicago Symphony has stood out quite clearly from the rest. In fact, Chicago has received a gold star in my book by being the orchestra with the best track record for performing works by women composers – a total of 13 in the past 7 seasons, including works by Clara Schumann and Lili Boulanger, as well as commissioned works from Augusta Read Thomas (who was composer in residence from 1997-2006) and Melinda Wagner. This is a phenomenal record considering that most of the other ensembles I have looked at only report performing half the number of works by women, and of they consist almost exclusively of works written in the very recent past.

The Cleveland Orchestra, which was listed as number seven in the list of top 20, ranks just behind Chicago in the number of works by women performed in their recent seasons, totaling 10, though all recent compositions.

Though the factors that have led to the rankings appear to be largely subjective to personal opinion by music critics, I would like to think that these critics (at least in the United States) were also appreciative of varied repertoire. Even if it is only a happy coincidence, it is certainly worth noting.