Women Composers Forum Session 3

Saturday, March 7 | 9:30-11:30 am
Charter Oak Cultural Center
21 Charter Oak Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Julia Mortyakova, “Changing the Current Canon—Reintroducing Cecile Chaminade”

The French Romantic composer, Cecile Chaminade was a very prolific composer throughout her life (1857-1944).  All 400 of Chaminade’s compositions were published, and she had a successful career both as a performer and a composer in Europe, and in the United States.  She traveled all over the world performing mostly her own music, and she was immensely popular – there were hundreds of music clubs named after her in the United States alone.

However, after her death, her compositional presence was much underrated.   This paper will show that Chaminade’s lack of presence in the larger musical canon is due to two factors – one of her being classified as a “salon music” composer, and another of failing to adjust to the music of the times, both of which are directly related to the fact that she was a woman.  To prove this point, I will compare Chaminade’s piano music to the music of her male colleagues of the same time period, and reveal how differently their music is labeled and received today.

As part of this presentation, some of Chaminade’s piano music will be performed to demonstrate her unique style, and perhaps to explain why people claimed that she did not adjust to the new compositional developments of her era.  Chaminade’s unique but romantic style, her approach to harmony, and her amazing ability to make music very suited for the instrument, are the reasons her music should be included in the current classical music canon.

Vera Ivanova, “Discovering Non-Western and Western Instrumental Combinations”

The piece for violin and koto duo (“Surface Tension”) was a commission by late koto  virtuoso Ryuko Mitzutani and violinist Pia Liptak, which was later released on Duo  vio-LINK-oto: Taking the Scarlet CD with Centaur Records (Catalogue number: CRC  3056). It was my first experience of composing for a combination of a nonNwestern  and a western instrument, which revealed significant differences in performance  techniques and tuning, as well as some similarities of these two instruments which  both belong to the string group of instruments.

In my presentation I will explain my approach in composing this piece, which  explores the differences and similarities of the two instruments, and touches upon  the imagery behind the title of the piece, i.e., the imagery of an elastic quality of  water that allows very light objects of a flat shape (such as a needle) to float on its  surface. It is in part due to this quality waves on the water are produced, which are  depicted in the piece with the repetitive plucking passages on koto, combined with  the gradual microtonal pitch-bend on both koto and violin, and vibratos of various  degrees that are produced and controlled in a very different way on violin and koto  (by pressing the string with fingers behind the tuning pillar and applying different  pressure for quarter-tone and half-step vibratos).

I will also demonstrate the score and talk about writing for koto, its limitations and  its advantages in comparison to traditional western string instruments, and touch  upon different systems of notation of music written for koto.

My presentation will not be limited to just showcasing one piece. In addition to  “Surface Tension,” I will present my other instrumental and vocal works for solo,  chamber and large ensembles, with the emphasis on works written for strings,  showing how the experience of composition for non-traditional Japanese  instrument influenced my later composition (“Quiet Light”), written for solo violin.

Jessica Rudman, “The 2014 IAWM Annual Concert”

In 2014, the IAWM experimented with a new format for their Annual Concert: a program of electroacoustic works was selected from a score call, with the stipulation that each included composer would present the entire concert at least once in their area.  The program has since been performed in Denmark, New York, Philadelphia, South Carolina, and in an online format.

After a brief introduction to the project, the complete concert will be presented.  The selected works are:

  • Andrea Clearfield, USA (with video by Quintan Ana Wikswo): “Califia and the Trespassers”
  • Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner, USA: “I will play the swan and die in music”
  • Jessica Rudman, USA: “Not One Would Care”
  • Line Tjørnhøj, Denmark: “daughter”

Program notes and bios  can be found here.