Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

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!

Call For Scores Roundup!

by sarah - April 7th, 2017

March proved to be an excellent month for hearing a wide range of works by women composers – contemporary and historic!  We are excited to keep the momentum going throughout the rest of the year, and with so many opportunities for calls for scores, we can look forward to more great concerts to come!  We encourage composers to apply, and for everyone to help spread the word on these great opportunities!

International Alliance for Women in Music 
Annual Concert 2017

Deadline: April 22, 2017

  • Open to Members of IAWM who identify as women.
  • Works submitted should have a maximum duration of 10 minutes, with no minimum length.
  • Works should be for one to three performers from the following list: flute (piccolo/alto), oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, cello, piano, and percussion. Chamber works with electronics and/or video are welcome.

More information here.


Women in Music Columbus

Deadline: May 15, 2017

  • Composers must be based in the United States and at least 21 years of age by the deadline.
  • Solo or chamber works up to five players; strings, woodwinds, or mixed, with or without piano.
  • Shorter works (10 minutes or less) are preferred, although works up to 15 minutes will be considered.  Works with electronics will not be considered.

More information can be found here.


36th IAWM Search for New Music

Deadline: May 31, 2017

  • Open to Members of IAWM who identify as women.
  • Seven different categories with different prizes and requirements
    • Ruth Anderson Commission Prize ($1,000)
      • Commission for a new sound installation with electro-acoustic music
    • Christine Clarke/Theodore Front Prize ($500)
      • Minimum age – twenty two
      • Large chamber and orchestral works
    • Miriam Gideon Prize ($500)
      • Minimum age – fifty
      • Works for solo voice and one to five instruments
    • Libby Larsen Prize ($300)
      • Must be currently enrolled in school
      • Works for any medium
    • Pauline Oliveros New Genre Prize ($300)
      • Works for electro-acoustic media or incorporating innovative form or style, such as improvisation, multimedia, use of non-traditional notation.
    • PatsyLu Prize ($500)
      • For Black women and/or lesbians
      • Classical art music in any form or instrumentation
    • Judith Lang Zaimont Prize ($400)
      • Minimum age – thirty
      • Extended instrumental compositions—large solo or chamber works—by a composer whose music has not yet been commercially recorded or published.

More information about all of the categories and requirements found here.


Listening to Ladies and Ctrl-Z

Deadline: June 1, 2017

  • Composers of any age or nationality who identify as women, nonbinary, or gender fluid.
  • Scores for live performative electronics to be performed by Ctrl-Z and released on record.
  • Composers will retain all ownership, publishing, performance, and distribution rights to their work.

More information available here.



Know of a call for scores that we missed?  Let us know so we can feature it and help spread the word!

IAWM 2015 Congress

by sarah - April 14th, 2015

IAWM-logo-v10The International Alliance for Women in Music is holding their Congress this week in an exciting and wonderfully inclusive and accessible online format.

The 20th Anniversary Congress is completely online with live-streamed concerts, papers, and lecture-recitals.  Anyone can access the material for free – but attendees are asked to register.  The events will be happening all week (April 13-19) – so be sure to stop by and listen in on the livestream or pull up an archived presentation.

Some highlights include:

  • Liane Curtis, President of Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy and The Rebecca Clarke Society, speaking about Clarke’s early pieces for Violin
  • Kendra Leonard discussing the life of Louise Talma
  • Sabrina Peña Young talking about her work Libertaria: The Virtual Opera, which she composed though online collaboration.
  • And many, many excellent performances of works by women!

Join in on the conversations at the Congress website – and let us know in the comments below what your favorite paper or performance was!

A Woman Composer Speaks Out

by Liane Curtis - April 4th, 2012

Over on http://www.newmusicbox.org/ there is a lively—chaotic, even—debate going on about the identity politics of the “woman composer.”   

Composer Rain Worthington wrote the post below as a comment to Rob Deemer’s post, A Helpful List .  With her permission, we re-post it here.  LC

I joined the New York Women Composers organization in 1997 when I first began notating music for mixed instruments. As a self-taught composer, I was excited to join ALL the composers’ membership organizations that I learned about—AMC, ACF, NYWC, and later, IAWM. I eagerly looked forward to moving within this new cultural network,to exchange ideas with colleagues and listen to the wide variety of contemporary composition happening.

A decade later I stepped up to serve as the Director of Development for the NYWC.

The question has arisen from time to time, whether there is still a need for organizations devoted to the promotion of women composers and women’s concert music.

With this, and a grant application, in mind, I did some informal research into the general representation ratios of women composers in such areas as radio broadcasts, grants and awards, and membership in the two big national composers’ membership organizations at the time: AMC and ACF.

As I mentioned, this was a very informal research undertaking on my part. Personally, since I was aware of many women composers, I expected to encounter some discrepancies in the gender representation numbers, but thought it would not be that large a gap.

I was shocked to find this wasn’t the case. Of the several months of radio broadcasts I surveyed from the four classical stations that I had randomly selected, the ratio of women composers’ music played was less than 1%.

The ratio of women recognized in grant programs and awards that I looked at over the past decade was slightly larger, approximately 10-15%.

But nothing came close to reflect the ratio of women’s membership in the national composer organizations which was about one-third women, to two-thirds men.

While I don’t know why the discrepancies still exist in this day and age and in this country, I do know that it is certainly not because of any lack of quality of music being composed by women.

It would be great if concert programs, radio broadcasts, grants and awards could more accurately reflect the overall gender ratio of composers actively working in the field, and yes, many composing high quality contemporary music.

I absolutely agree with your statement that “It is only through awareness that one can identify that “excellent” music to begin with.”

Increased awareness of contemporary women working in the field of composition is not a limitation, but an expansion of resources and knowledge. This provides an enrichment of perspective, rather than a reduction or narrowing.

I commend you for initiating this list, and to the resulting discussion it has generated, including all the additional names posted in the comments.

FYI, the New York Women Composers website a good resource for music by women composers, (many of whom are listed above) with Composer Profile pages, and searchable Catalog, with pdfs & audio samples.