Over on my sister blog A Piano Teacher Writes…. I recently cited two new anthologies of piano music, which on face value seemed a useful addition to the student pianist’s repertoire. On closer inspection, however, I found that one anthology contained not a single piece by a female composer, and the other contained a piece composed by the author, who happens to be a woman. This lack of diversity troubles me – and it’s not some kind of gender identity/feminist virtue signalling on my part, but rather a wish to offer students and piano enthusiasts as broad a range of music as possible. We are so lucky as pianists to have access to a vast repertoire, yet too many anthologies focus on the core canon, which is mostly music written by long dead white guys.

Read my article here

In an ideal scenario, we wouldn’t need to differentiate between male and female composers, but unfortunately while inequality of representation exists in anthologies and concert programmes, I believe it is important to highlight this. And so, as a positive step, I’d like to compile an online resource via this blog of graded piano music written by female composers. I hope this will be of use to teachers and piano students in seeking new repertoire.

Please feel free to submit music for inclusion, ideally with an estimate grade/ability level and a link to the score or publisher information.  Use the comment box below or Email Me with your nominations. I have also created a collaborative playlist on Spotify to which you are welcome to add tracks

Here are a few of my own suggestions to get us started:

Sadie Harrison

  • Lunae – Four Nocturnes for Solo Piano (Advanced/Grade 8/Diploma/University of York Music Press)
  • Northern Lights (Intermediate/Grade 5-6/UYMP)
  • Four Jazz Portraits (Advanced/Grade 8/Diploma/UYMP)

Jenni Pinnock

  • Rains (Intermediate/Grade 5/available via Jenni’s website)
  • Captive (Advanced/Grade 8/available via Jenni’s website)
  • Frost (Intermediate/available via Jenni’s website)

Cheryl Frances-Hoad

  • Homages Book 2 (Advanced/available via Cheryl’s website)
  • Love Song for Dusty (as above)

Meredith Monk

  • Railroad (Travel Song) (Intermediate/Grade 6/Boosey & Hawkes)

Karen Tanaka

  • Northern Lights (early intermediate/Grade 4/ABRSM Spectrum series)

June Armstrong

from Strangford Sketchbook

  • Still Light on the Lough  (Grades 6-7/available via June Armstrong’s website)
  • Temple Dancer in Blue (Grade 6/available as above)

Jennifer Linn

  • ‘Un phare dans la brouillard’ from Les Petites Impressions (Intermediate/Grade 6/available as digital download or in anthology)

Germaine Tailleferre

  • Impromptu (Advanced/Grade 7-8/Editions Jobert)

Alison Wrenn (Berry)

 

DONNE Women in Music | Showcase Concert,  St Gabriel’s Church, London, 7th March

Guest review by Karine Hetherington

On the eve of International Women’s Day, I attended a concert at St Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico, showcasing women’s music.

Soprano, Gabriella Di Laccio, the powerhouse behind the musical initiative Donne: Women in Music, welcomed us and introduced us to her musicians for the evening: James Akers guitarist, soprano, Susie Georgiadis and pianist Clelia Iruzun. I was pleasantly surprised to see a male musician in the line-up.

Akers produced a Romantic guitar, which is smaller than the classical guitar. I realise that night that my knowledge of the classical guitar was limited to Andrés Segovia, Julian Bream and John Williams. My mother played their records over and over during our childhood in the early 1970s.

James Akers, I learnt, had a few misgivings about the Father of the Guitar, André Segovia. Whilst acknowledging Segovia’s brilliance, he believed that guitar masters had limited the guitar repertoire we have been exposed to. Women composers especially had suffered as a result of Segovia’s promotion of Spanish male composers. This evening was the occasion to redress the balance.

He played works by Emilia Giuliani (1813-1850) who shared the stage with Franz Liszt, and Athénaïs Paulian (1801- c.1875) who was a child prodigy, was well known in British society and had a biography written about her. Prelude 2 by Giuliani was particularly appealing; however Akers’ delicate, dexterous play could have benefited from some amplification in the church. I listened to extracts from his Le Donne et la Chitarra CD later and was struck by the colour and expression he brought to each work. Highly recommended.

Next, Gabriella Di Laccio interpreted songs by Clara K.Rogers (1844-1931) and Avril Coleridge-Taylor (1903-1998). Can Sorrow Find Me by Coleridge-Taylor is a beautiful, dramatic and haunting work. Di Laccio had the power in the higher register but her voice felt a little tight in the lower notes and pianissimos. I was delighted however to hear her sing the same work again on BBC 3’s In tune the following day for International Women’s Day. This time Di Laccio broadcast it to the nation perfectly!

Meanwhile soprano, Susie Georgiadis, performed a variety of Italian and Brazilian songs, all very different in tone and all beautifully sung. Georgiadis’s voice is warm and controlled and rich with emotion.

Most memorable was Cardellina, a charming song about a little bird and Sul Fiume (By The River), an intensely romantic composition. The composer, Giulia Recli (1890-1970), together with many other female composers, appears on Susie Georgiadis’s CD Homage, just out.

The evening ended fittingly with a Brazilian protest song entitled Marielle presente (2018). Composed by Catarina Domenici, in memory of the Rio de Janeiro councillor Marielle Franco, who was assassinated last year, it was a rousing song in honour of those women who had died recently in Brazil for their political activities.

All in all a tantalising introduction to the world of female composition.

Hats off to Gabriella Di Laccio for her remarkably enlightening project, which can only grow and grow.


Both of the CD’s below are available from the Donne Musica online shop.

Le Donne e la Chitarra with James Akers.

Homage: Women Composers from Italy and Brazil – Susie Georgiadis, Soprano & Angiolina Sensale, Piano

Gabriella Di Laccio & Clelia Iruzun
Susie Georgiadis
James Akers

Karine Hetherington is a teacher and writer of novels, who also blogs on art and music. Her two published novels, The Poet and the Hypotenuse, and Fort Girard, are set in France in the 1930s and 1940s. Karine promotes singers and musicians performing in the fast-growing Kensington and Olympia Music and Arts Festival. She is also a reviewer for ArtMuseLondon.com

DONNE, Women in Music | SHOW CASE CONCERT | Thu 7th March, 7pm 

Launched on International Women’s Day 2018, this ongoing project aiming to champion women composers’ equality is a new destination platform for information and content spotlighting brilliant composers, past and present.

Full details on:  http://www.drama-musica.com/Donne_Concerts.html

PROGRAMME DETAILS  

7pm – Pre-concert talk

With all recording artists as well as soprano Gabriella Di Laccio – Founder & Curator of Donne – Women in Music

7.30 – CONCERT

Presenting repertoire from both CDs:

LE DONNE E LA CHITARRA & HOMAGE

Guests Performes:

GABRIELLA DI LACCIO – soprano

CLELIA IRUZUN – piano

Presenting songs by Avril Coleridge-Taylor and Clara Kathleen Rodgers

ABOUT DONNE: 

DONNE’s dedicated website features an online database of more than 5,000 women composers on the Big List page , providing further information for anyone who would like to learn a bit more.  Throughout the year the website celebrates the women who are currently making their mark in society in the online series Composers of Today. DONNE also features the fascinating stories of so many forgotten women composers of the past with short video introductions on the Historical Composers page.DONNE’s dedicated CD Collection will release 5 albums featuring only music by women in 2018-1019 extending the equality initiative to the recording market as well.

This initiative has attracted the attention of many influential music institutions like the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, King’s College of London, City University of London, University of São Paulo, Oxford University, etc. And we will continue the to grow the collaboration opportunities for the project and future recordings.

The project is connected with the UK Independent Record Label Drama Musica.

On the 1st January 2019, DONNE started a new venture called: DONNE365 and for 365 this year DONNE is featuring  two women composers every day, with links to their website and where to find their music.

Soprano Gabriella Di Laccio is the Founder & Curator of the project. In November 2018 she was named by BBC World as one of the most inspirational and influential women in world in 2018 – BBC 100 Women 

DONNE Showcase Concert

 

Harriet Harman launches ‘Venus Blazing’, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance’s campaign to celebrate music by ‘missing’ women composers

 

  • Trinity Laban pledges that music by women – past and present and across many genres – will make up more than half of its concert programmes in 2018/19 academic year
  • Trinity Laban will also create an online database of female composers and expand its library to ensure students have access to the wealth of musical scores by women that music history has overlooked

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance today announces Venus Blazing, an unprecedented commitment to the music of women composers throughout the next academic year, virtually abolishing concerts which feature only music by men.

Drawing on centuries of music past and present, Trinity Laban will ensure that at least half of the music it chooses for the multitude of varied public performances it mounts on its landmark Greenwich campus and in venues across London in 2018/19 will be by women composers. This encompasses the 60+ concerts and opera performances given each year by the conservatoire’s 12 large-scale student performing groups in all the musical genres for which Trinity Laban is known, including classical music, opera, and jazz. There will be a particular focus on 20th and 21st century British composers, including Trinity Laban students, alumni and staff.

Harriet Harman MP, Chair of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, launched Venus Blazing to coincide with a lunchtime concert by Trinity Laban’s Chamber Choir celebrating the 90th birthday of British composer Thea Musgrave, in Greenwich today [1pm, 8 March], also marking International Women’s Day.

Harriet Harman, Chair of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, says:

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance is strongly committed to diversity in all elements and it has a mission to constantly challenge the status quo. Venus Blazing is a great example of just how it can do this. It will encourage and inspire its students – many of whom will go on to shape the future of the performing arts to engage with the historic issue of gender imbalance in music by women, and ensure that it does not continue into the next generation. I welcome this bold initiative to raise awareness of the disparity that has long existed in music and shine a light on music that has so frequently been overlooked. I am also greatly looking forward to hearing some of the musical treasures by women I might not otherwise have had the chance to hear.”

Among the performance highlights of Venus Blazing is a new production of Thea Musgrave’s opera A Christmas Carol (December 2018), symphonies by Louise Farrenc and Grace Williams performed by the Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra, an exploration of the music of Trinity Laban alumna Avril Coleridge-Taylor and much more to be announced in due course. This will include music by current Trinity Laban composition students and staff, including Soosan Lolavar, Laura Jurd and Deirdre Gribbin – whose Violin Concerto Venus Blazing has given the name to this celebration.

Alongside these performances Trinity Laban will make available an online database of works by female composers, and will expand its library resources, including scores, books and recordings. This will encourage and inspire students to discover works that they might not previously have been able to access, and will and ensure that Trinity Laban, as a modern conservatoire with a key role to play in shaping the next generation of music makers, addresses the historical gender imbalance in music so that it does not continue.

Venus Blazing is being spearheaded by two key members of Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Music: Dr Sophie Fuller, Programme Leader of Trinity Laban’s Masters programmes and acclaimed author of The Pandora Guide to Women Composers: Britain and the United States, alongside conductor and Head of Orchestra Studies, Jonathan Tilbrook, Head of Orchestral Studies.

Dr Sophie Fuller, said:

It is widely recognised that music created by women – whatever the genre – is heard much less often than music created by men. In past centuries, it was difficult for women to find a meaningful musical education or get equal access to performance opportunities, but there have always been those who leapt over any obstacles placed in their way. We at Trinity Laban want our students and their audiences to hear their often powerful work. It is our duty to celebrate women’s music, not just for one year, but to provide the structures, support and encouragement to ensure that this is a lasting legacy for all future musicians and music lovers.”

trinitylaban.ac.uk/venusblazing

@TrinityLaban #VenusBlazing


(source: press release)