Women Composers Forum

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Forum Details (Forum Program)
Date: Friday, April 6 | 9:00am – 4:00 pm
Location: GrussHall, Austin Arts Center, Trinity College
Keynote Speaker: Karen Cook

This day is dedicated to scholarly research, workshops, and other presentations related to women composers and musicians. The Forum is intended to celebrate historical and living composers, support ongoing research, and provide professional development opportunities for composers, scholars, and other music professionals.

9:00 am
Amanda Bono | Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Symphony No. 2, and the Evolution of Her Compositional Style
As one of the most-performed American living composers, and despite having written symphonies, concerti, chamber music, and vocal works, there is a great lack of scholarship on the analysis of Zwilich’s compositions. This presentation will focus on Zwilich’s established compositional style, specifically the style that pervaded her works during the 1980’s through present day. 

9:30 am 
Alexis Lowder | Amy​ ​Beach​ ​and​ ​Florence​ ​B.​ ​Price: Gender,​ ​Race,​ ​and​ ​Privilege​ ​in​ ​the​ ​World​ ​of​ ​Music
Two American women cracked glass ceilings with symphonies written in E minor. Each inspired generations of women composers with their mastery of genres ranging from song to large-scale orchestral works. Both struggled with oppressive gender norms that allowed few women to forge their own paths as serious art music composers. This presentation explores the parallels between the two women’s lives and musical styles and the ways in which American race relations shaped their career paths, as well as posthumous scholarship of the women. Most importantly, the importance of avoiding Eurocentrism in music research and of supporting women from all walks of life are discussed.

10:00 am
Sarah Masterson | An Examination of Philippa Duke Schuyler
Initially famous as a child prodigy in 1930s Harlem, Philippa Duke Schuyler attained remarkable success as a composer, performer, and journalist during her short lifetime. Although Schuyler wrote multiple pieces for orchestra and piano, very few were published during her lifetime. Due to copyright issues, most are still unavailable, with the manuscripts housed in restricted special collections. Only two piano scores were published–a transcription of the scherzo from her Rumpelstiltsken fairy tale orchestral suite, and Fortune Favored the Bold Player, from her unpublished White Nile Suite. These two compositions provide an intriguing glimpse of Schuyler’s compositional style and interests.

10:30 am
Kowoon Lee | 21st century music for solo piano by living East Asian women composers: DoReMi Variations (2015) by Juri Seo, Sheng Dan Jing Mo Chou: The Impression of Beijing Opera (2007) by Wang A-Mao, and Water Dance (2011) by Karen Tanaka.
This lecture-recital introduces solo piano music by three living Asian women composers, Juri Seo (South Korea), Wang A-Mao (China), and Karen Tanaka (Japan). Each composer has a distinctive style that results from her own nationality and/or educational background. The solo piano music to be performed on this lecture-recital reflects the distinctive musical styles of three living composers. It offers an introduction to these living Asian female composers and how they establish their distinctive compositional voices through their training and, sometimes, nationality.

11:00 am – break

11:15 am
Samantha Ege | An American Sonata: Musical Reflections of the Melting Pot in Florence Price’s Sonata in E minor
This lecture-recital centres on Price’s most substantial work for solo piano: the unequivocally American Sonata in E minor (1932). It aims to amplify the hearing of Price’s vision for an American national music by delving into the soundworld that the sonata manifests through discussion and performance. Price’s twentieth century experiments, which brought together classical forms, Romantic gestures, spiritual melodies and plantation rhythms, are explored as musical applications of the melting pot metaphor. In a broader sense, however, this interpretation of Price’s sonata also aims to reconsider prior, often exclusionary narratives of Western art music and to enable Price’s contributions to the American musical landscape to be recognised through a lens of inclusion, rather than the filter of Otherness.

11:45 am
Penny Brandt | Formal Transgressions: Transnational Activism by Women Composers
This presentations discusses the musical works of three living women composers whose works are a form of activism against oppression. Sadie Harrison is an Australia-born composer living in the UK whose research into gender and musical practice in Afghanistan led to her creation of “Gulistan-e Nur: The Rosegarden of Light” in collaboration with a women’s ensemble at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Niloufar Nourbakhsh is an Iranian composer living in the United States who composed “An Aria for the Executive Order” in response to the Executive Order passed by the forty-fifth President of the United States that bans residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the USA and whose “SYRIA: a fractal of WE” invites listeners to contemplate their own position in global conflicts. Tawnie Olson is a Canadian composer living in the United States. Her “No Capacity to Consent” questions police brutality and overreach in the United States. Each of these composers has assumed a certain amount of artistic and professional risk to call attention to the plight of marginalized people in countries where they are not citizens. Sample recordings from performances of each piece will demonstrate how transgressions against traditional methods of composition reinforce the activist nature of the music. Transnational activism is an important style trait of classical art music of the twenty-first century, and this presentation encourages listeners to support artist/activists.

12:30 pm
Lunchtime Concert: Dr. Julia Mortyakova
(Founder and Artistic Director of the Music by Women Festival at the Mississippi University for Women, inspired by WCFH)
Featuring piano works by Cecile Chaminade (1857-1944), Teresa Carreno (18523-1917), Olga Harris (1953).

1:20 pm
Liane Curtis | Why Amy Beach Matters (and how we have come to recognize that fact)
Amy Beach (1867-1944) was praised by many in her lifetime as an important American composer, but in the twentieth century some began to consider her music as old-fashioned, and after her death, her work fell into obscurity. For decades her name (if mentioned at all) would often be a subject of derision by later generations of musicians who knew none of her music.
The revitalization of Beach’s music and reputation began in the late 1970s, and this presentation considers some of the factors that contributed to this.

2:15 pm
Raisa Bonnet and ElevArte PR

3:00 pm
Karen Cook | Hildegard’s Women