Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

Monday Link Round Up: August 13, 2018

by sarah - August 13th, 2018

News and music to start your week!

Hugely important piece by composer and musician Elizabeth Baker at New Music Box. In part:

Elizabeth A. Baker

Elizabeth A. Baker, photo from https://soundcloud.com/elizabethabakermusic

The problem continues when organizations promote “diversity initiatives” using only images of cisgender white women. What these actions and inactions tell women who look like me—women of color, and individuals for whom I am an ally, including non-binary and queer women—is that our voices and, more poignantly, our faces are not welcome in this conversation. Personally, it has the effect of taking my agency as a woman away from me. When people mention the breakthroughs of women composers, I do not identify with these achievements as a part of the evolution that paves my path in the music industry. The more I talk to other women of color hailing from nations across the globe, the more I understand how the subconscious presentation of diversity framed exclusively as a “middle-class white cisgender woman’s problem” has the ripple effect of silencing women of varied ethnic backgrounds and gender identities.

Samson Baughman writes at I Care if You Listen about representation matters on the concert stage even outside program choices.  Speaking from personal experience, Baughman offers perspective as “the” black musician in an ensemble, and offers readers ways to support diverse musicians and ensembles moving forward.

Lisa Houston writes in The San Francisco Classical Voice about the work of Missy Mazzoli and, specifically, her ventures into opera.  Learn more about Mazzoli’s performing career, including with her own ensembles, and her influences for operatic writing.

The Egyptian orchestra made up entirely of blind women is continuing to impress.  Read more, and watch a video of the Light and Hope Orchestra, at TRTWorld.

BBC 3 and the Ulster Orchestra (in Belfast) continue with a series of free concerts featuring major works by women, including Jessie Montgomery, Nina C. Young, Roxanna Panufnik and Clara Schumann.

What have we missed?  Opinions or comments?  Let us know!  email [email protected]



Monday Link Round Up: July 23, 2018

by sarah - July 23rd, 2018

News and music to start your week!

Pianist Samantha Ege

Pianist and musicologist Samantha Ege writes at Sound Studies blog — Sounding Out! — about her recent performance at the Australian Gender Diversity in Making Music conference – where she (most probably) gave the Australian premiere of music by Florence Price.  This is a “must read” about the ways in which the best of intentions of a conference can be quickly derailed by an incident of conference planning that reinforces the inherent nature of privilege.

In their continued collaboration with New Music Box, composer & IAWM President Carrie Leigh Page and composer Dana Reason explore the history of bias women have experienced as performers as well as composers.  An excellent — and thorough — history, and another “must read”!

Page and Reason in their New Music Box article referred to the famous (to those concerned with gender issues in classical music) case of Abbie Conant who fought the Munich Philharmonic for years to confront the overt bias she faced. The WQXR Blog further explores the story .

In their most recent feature of a contemporary composer, I Care if You Listen interviews composer and sound artist Jess Rowland.  From the website: “Rowland’s compositions and performances explore consumer culture, and she describes her own music through the Ives quote “beauty in music is too often confused with something that lets the ear lie back in an easy chair.” In this interview, Jess Rowland discusses the prejudices faced being a trans woman, a composer not adhering to the hierarchy of academia, and the financial struggles many musicians face.”

It’s been heartening to see influx of attention paid to the work of women in music, and actions being taken to address the imbalances.  According to France 24, the French Culture Minister is making efforts to have organizations and institutions commit to more equality both on the podium, and in arts administration.  Conversely, the Irish Times reports that the gender imbalance in Ireland is not being taken seriously.

What have we missed?  What do you think?  We’d love to hear from you at [email protected]


Monday Link Round Up: July 9, 2018

by sarah - July 9th, 2018

News and music to start your week!

The mission of Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy focuses on leveling the playing field for women composers.  The inequities are obvious in our oft-quoted statistics that show the prolific accomplishments of women composers who still do not receive the attention that is due to them.

Issues surrounding women performers are really not so much in our radar.  It was one of the big issues back in 1981, when our “mother” organization, The Women’s Philharmonic was founded.  By the time the orchestra disbanded in 2004, huge progress had been made for performers.  Women were represented in every instrument and at every level of orchestra.  Really, we liked to think that problem has been solved.

But this week a story broke that reminded us that female performers still face discrimination.  It was national headlines when principal flutist of the Boston Symphony, Elizabeth Rowe, sued the orchestra for pay discrimination.  Encouraged by a new equal pay law in Massachusetts, Rowe is seeking to bridge the substantial gap in wages between her base pay and that of her closest peer, the (male) principal oboist.  Read the story at NPR and The New York Times.

One of the shocking things: this is the First Flute position that in 1952 was earned by Doriot Anthony Dywer, perhaps the most celebrated women in music to break the glass ceiling, becoming one of the first female principal players in a top-tier orchestra.  The story of her audition is engaging and startling — it took two days, and she was pitted in competition with another applicant.  Finally she impressed the auditioners with her brilliant musicianship and accomplishment — she simply had all (ALL) the flute repertoire for orchestra memorized, and could play any excerpt that they requested on demand!

Elizabeth Rowe, Boston Symphony Orchestra

When finally offered the position, Dwyer had to ask that her salary be specified — the response was: “Oh, it will pay very well.” To which she responded, “Well, I don’t know what very well is. What is ‘very well?’”   “Well, how much do you want?”  Dwyer had researched salary levels, and named her price and could tell that the administrator was shocked. But she stood her ground. Dwyer “leaned in” and asked for equal treatment — now, after years of struggling for fair treatment, Rowe has put her foot down, and done the same.  It’s deja vu all over again — apparently women have to keep re-inventing the wheel, and constantly working for equitable treatment.  Special thanks to the doctoral dissertation of Kristen Kean, pp. 50-63.


Jay Derderian at I Care If You Listen spoke to Rod Deemer – founder of the Composer Diversity Database.  This expansive new resource allows users to search for and learn about composers and music that are not typically included in concert programming.  Learn more about where the idea came from, and where it’s going.


Christina Rusnak, President of the International Alliance for Women in Music, writes in New Music Box about the organization and women’s representation in music generally.  Rusnak specifically looks at the number of women who have won composing awards.  Read on here.

The San Francisco Classical Voice speaks with Gabriela Lena Frank about her Creative Academy of Music, numerous commissioned works, including an opera on the life of Frieda Kahlo that will be premiered in 2019-2020 by the Fort Worth Opera, and her optimism for the future.

AND — every summer the National Women’s Music Festival continues to include new and old  orchestral works in their rich and varied line-up — this year a new orchestral arrangement by Mary Watkins of Cris Williamson’s wonderful song, Sweet Woman, led by Nan Washburn. Truly a celebration!

Monday Link Round Up: June 25, 2018

by sarah - June 25th, 2018

News and music to start your week!

We were very excited to hear a story on NPR’s All Things Considered about the lack of women’s music heard at the symphony.  The piece explores the current statistics in conversation with Grammy and Pulitzer Prize winning composer Jennifer Higdon.  Listen below – and read WPA President Liane Curtis’s reaction to the story here.

The website I Care if You Listen has a conversation with composer Ellen Reid – specifically about her work as a co-founder of the Luna Composition Lab, which offers mentorship by and for female and nonbinary composers.

Emily Hogstad of Song of the Lark writes about forgotten composer Adela Maddison.   Maddison’s 1910 opera “Der Talisman” was performed in Leipzig to enthusiastic reviews.  Hogstad links to the recent recording of her Piano Quintet.  A fascinating read about the complex histories of women in music, and the intricate research processes necessary so that their stories can be remembered.

The Women Composers Festival of Hartford has announced their 2019 Featured Artists!  The Ensemble-in-Residence is The Nouveau Classical Project, and all-women contemporary classical music ensemble based in New York.  The Composer-in-Residence is Jennifer Jolley!

Last week NPR reported on the Barbershop Harmony Society changing their 80 year old policy to allow women to join.  Founded in 1938 the originally all-white organization opened to people of color in 1963, but it took until 2018 to also extend admittance to women.