Let’s Celebrate Today

Let’s Celebrate Today

We Can Do It

It’s International Women’s Day! To properly celebrate, I say let’s all burn, sink, or plant a piano Annea Lockwood-style. Perhaps in keeping with the times we could extend this practice to electric keyboards as well. Be sure to send photos!

Not only would I like to take advantage of this occasion to point you towards David Smooke’s post from Tuesday, in which he runs a few unofficial yet telling numbers illustrating gender representation in some small slices of the concert programming world, but also offer some potential solutions via Timothy Rutherford-Johnson’s exellent IWD-themed playlist for today, not to mention pile on some additional numbers (which are actually not as abysmal as I expected).

It is very true that there are fewer female composers in the world than male composers, and for that reason we will probably not anytime soon reach a 50/50 split in concert programming across the board. I agree that a big reason for this is a lack of role models and female composition teachers. (Indeed, I can almost guarantee that I would not be working in this field today if I had not had female composition teachers from day one.) However, the issue at present seems less about persuading more young women to enter the field, than about celebrating the female composers who are here now, making music now. I also urge the female composers out there to celebrate (obviously well beyond today) yourself and your music. Get out there and bring it, ladies. It’s up to those making decisions about concert programming to pay attention and look beyond their immediate circles of influence to hear and see the music of the many amazing female composers active today, and responsibility also falls on the composers to put their music out there with everything they’ve got.

I do think that numbers are improving, but it’s slow going, and many institutions (the larger ones especially) have a lot of catching up to do. However, I am heartened by the number of college professors (both male and female) who are incorporating a diverse range of music by female composers into their curricula. I hope a day will come when we can look back at these statistics and laugh.

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6 thoughts on “Let’s Celebrate Today

  1. Alvaro Gallegos

    Nice reflections, Alex. Everyday we see more and more female composers. Some very young that have their own websites that can be accesed in the whole world, but most important of all, their music is getting performed.

    If you’re interested in female composers, let me recommend you one: Leni Alexander (1924-2005). Frank J.Oteri has some records with her music.

    And a happy day for all women!

  2. Susan Scheid

    I recently heard a marvelous piece called Dollhouse by a young composer named Molly Joyce. She wrote it while in a dark time about her chosen vocation as a composer. The resultant work is stunning. Today, I am celebrating her.

    1. Frank J. Oteri

      Thanks for the listening recommendation. Curious to learn more about the piece after reading your nice words, I googled it and found an audio stream on Soundcloud so I’m listening to it right now! I thought other readers might want to do so also, so I thought I’d make it even easier by posting a link to it: Molly Joyce’s Dollhouse (2011-2012).

        1. George Wallace

          Thank you, Susan, for highlighting that piece, and thank you, Frank, for finding the recording. That is a fine piece of work that, one would hope, bodes well for Molly Joyce’s future. Hers is a name I’ll definitely file away for future reference.


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