Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

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!!

Monday Link Round Up: August 21, 2017

by sarah - August 21st, 2017

News to start your week!

There are important conversations as a result of Charlottesville happening across disciplines.  One thought provoking discussion about the problems with a Eurocentric approach to music history and music theory is made by musicologist Ethen Hein.  Read on here.

The Library of Congress has announced their 2017-2018 season of concerts – including new commissions by Rebecca Saunders (a string quartet) and Esperanza Spalding (duo for violin and piano).  Learn more about the coming events, and how to get tickets, here.

Bangor University, Wales, U.K., will be hosting an International Conference on Women’s Work in Music September 4-7.  Musicologist Dr. Sophie Fuller will be a keynote speaker, and concerts will celebrate the work of Grace Williams, Hilary Tann, Nicola LeFanu, and Eleanor Alberga.   More information here.

Ahram Online profiles the Al Nour Wal Amal Orchestra – an Egyptian ensemble comprised entirely of blind and visually impaired women.  The ensemble, which first premiered in 1988, just completed its 31st international tour.  Learn more about the amazing ensemble here.

What did we miss?  What are you reading?

Community Women’s Orchestra to Perform Hillary Tann

by sarah - March 3rd, 2015

CWO-logoThe Community Women’s Orchestra, based in Oakland, CA, was begun as an offshoot of The Women’s Philharmonic.  It was established in 1985 by Nan Washburn and continues to flourish.  From the start CWO has had a clear mission:

The Community Women’s Orchestra provides a fun, welcoming environment to promote women in music.

All of the 60+ players are women, and they all volunteer their time.  Each concert includes at least one work by a woman composer, whether living or historic.  The concert scheduled for this weekend will feature a work by Hilary Tann.  Sarsen was inspired by various “standing stones” in nature.  More information about the piece, as well as a recording, is available on Tann’s website.

More information about tickets is available here.  You can also check out the CWO’s store to pick up a recording and support their work!

Women in Music Festival: The Kaplan Duo

by Liane Curtis - March 26th, 2014

The second concert (Mar. 25) of the Eastman Women In Music Festival (the Festival includes several venues that are near Eastman, but not part of Eastman):

The Kaplan Duo delighted us with their noon hour recital at Nazareth College.  I’ve known the pianist Nanette Kaplan Solomon for many years, first through her brilliant recordings of works by American women, and then by attending her performances and presentations at conferences; in fact she just gave a very engaging lecture-recital on Manna Zucca at the Society for American Music Conference (and, good news!  A CD is forthcoming!). So I was delighted for the opportunity to hear her, together with her sister, Iris Kaplan Rosenthal, in a recital of music for piano, four hands.  It’s obvious that the sisters have a lifelong experience of playing together, inspiring each other, and bringing excitement to audiences through their musical performances.

They began with a set of three pieces by Amy Beach, from 1883.  Even at age 16, Beach was a polished composer (as well as interpreter) of piano music.  The Kaplan sisters’ interpretation of the Allegro Appassionato was refreshingly different from the recording I know.  Theirs was smoothly flowing rather than a bouncy staccato.  The Moderato evoked dark cello tones in its exchanges of somber ascending, flowing lines. The harmonies are rich with some surprising modulations penned by the teen-aged Amy. The third movement, Allegro con fuoco, pulsed and surged with dark energy, and had a gently rocking middle section in a major key.

Welsh composer (now living in Schenectady) Hilary Tann composed Water’s Edge in 1993, a work in three connected movements.  The “edge” is the top surface of the water which can bend or reflect the light. Movement one, “Dawn Light,” was spare and built on the piano’s echoing overtones and resonances. It had an evocative, improvised quality.  “From the Riverbed” used oscillating fragments of a harmonic minor scale, gradually building momentum.  Finally, “Toward Dusk” was undulating and atmospheric, gradually fading away. It was an effective work and played with great sensitivity.

Judith Lang Zaimont is prolific and widely respected composer.  The Kaplan Duo performed two movements of her “Snazzy Sonata” (1972).  The “Two-Step” was playful and buoyant, with the real feel of Ragtime. With their energetic flourishes and complicated cross rhythms, the Kaplans had to carefully coordinate their arm crossings.  “Lazy Beguine” was relaxed and sensual, with an undulating melody than moved through different ranges.  The Kaplans created an evocative atmosphere by bringing out a range of lush colors in this work.

The Kaplans have personal friendships with the last two composers.  Their music was new to most of us and a welcome discovery.  Judy Bruce is a successful piano teacher.  She started studying composition as a way to inspire her own children, and then kept going with it very seriously.  Motions (2012) is a set of three pieces, inspired by the activities of children.  The first, “Flying,” was energetic with a refreshing brightness in the melodic vocabulary; “Drifting” evoked a gentle sweetness, and finally, “Jumping” had a relentless energy, with tumultuous, cascading gestures.

The concert ended with two pieces by Jane Leslie.  “A Walk in the Country” (1997) was an effective ballad, a pop song without words. Cascading pianistic flourishes enriched the lovely lyrical melody. “Fanfare” (2005) started with a high propulsive ostinato, that gradually moved to a middle register. Some Bartokian parallelisms were employed with great brilliance, and after a more melodic interlude, the opening ostinato was brought back for an exhilarating conclusion.  This piece was a real showstopper and a great choice.

This hour with the Kaplan Duo went by too quickly; they are very polished artists and musical communicators and I hope they will be recording some of this repertory.


Hilary Tann

by sarah - March 13th, 2014

Welsh-born Hilary Tann is a contemporary  composer currently living and teaching in New York State.  She writes for large and small ensembles and her work is most often characterized as lyrical, with Tann drawing inspiration from the natural world, especially that of her beloved Wales.

She has worked diligently to advance the role of women composers, including being involved with the International League of Women Composers from 1982-1995 and holding various leadership roles during her tenure.  She is actively commissioned and her works are performed internationally.  In recent years Tann was the guest composer in residence at the Eastman Women in Music Festival (2011) and composer in residence of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford (2013).  Tann was also interviewed for Jennifer Kelly’s book In Her Own Words: Conversations with Composers in the United States available from University of Illinois Press.

Here is a taste of one of my favorites from her chamber writing:


Listen to more of Tann’s works on her website—and don’t forget to make a contribution in support of hearing more works by women at the Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy Indiegogo Campaign!