The Women Composers Festival of Hartford was founded in 2001 by composer/pianist Heather (Rupy) Seaton, while a student at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music. Surprised that she never performed music written by a woman (except for her own), she and fellow students spearheaded a festival to explore and celebrate works by contemporary and historical women composers.
Over the next decade, the festival developed into a highly valued resource for the dissemination and performance of music by women composers, as well as the inspiration for new works and collaborations. The festival began attracting scholars, composers, audiences, and supporters from around the world. Over time, the Forum was added to explore topic such as the works of unknown or under-known historical women composers, feminist musicology, and the role gender plays in how we understand and appreciate art.
In its present composition, the festival includes
- Research Forum – a scholarly symposium
- Ensemble-in-Residence – to perform newly composed works by women
- Composer-in-Residence – commissioned to write a new work for the Ensemble-in-Residence and premiered at the Festival
- International Score Call – a competition for new compositions scored for the instrumentation of the Ensemble-in-Residence
- Music Marathon – a full day of performances of works by women
- Student Composers Workshop
The Festival takes place in early spring and is attended by academic scholars, students, composers, performers, and the general public.
The Women Composers Festival of Hartford embraces diversity of race, ethnicity, and ability. The mission of the festival is to feature artists who identify as female, including transgender and gender-fluid individuals. The festival is open to presentations from composers/performers/speakers who are willing to confront gender and other intersecting identities in their work.