Previous Festival Participants

Whistling Hens’ debut album, Reacting to the Landscape, includes nine world premiere recordings of works by seven living American women composers. Showcasing five commissions, soprano Jennifer Piazza-Pick and clarinetist Natalie Groom masterfully present a wide variety of styles, sounds, and stories.

The album includes a short dialog between a “joyfully callous” soprano spurning the clarinetist (Ashi DayThursday); toe-tapping nonsense syllable scat sounds (Victoria BondScat 2); a letter to a war-ridden country (Jennifer StevensonLetter from Beirut); a mini play on themes of the resilience of women and girls (Ashi DayThe Green Child); five American folk songs, from sassy to serene to saucy (Cherise LeiterAmerican Folk Suite); an embrace of the warmth of womanly saints (Melika FitzhughA Woman Keeps Opening); an exploration of Eve’s first day on earth (Cherise LeiterEve’s Diary); heartfelt observations of nature (Diana RosenblumSay I Am a River); and a final lullaby on the passing of loved ones (Dannielle McBryanIt’s Bedtime).

The album title, Reacting to the Landscape, comes from an interview in which former Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conductor Marin Alsop (the first female to lead a major orchestra in the U.S.) said, 

“People ask why a course like this [for women conductors] is necessary, and I think it’s a disingenuous question. It’s only necessary because of the reality. It’s not something I’m making up. I’m just reacting to the landscape…Because I have quite a thick skin, I don’t mind being the one out front, trying to elbow my way in. But I think, as that person out front, it’s important for me to create a pathway for people coming through. I don’t want it to be so hard for the next generations.” 

So why women composers? Why now? Whistling Hens is just reacting to the landscape.

Purchase the album here.

Sarah Marze (2020-21 Emerging Composers Workshop) was recently named UConn’s Sixth Marshall Scholar. Sarah’s Two Songs for String Quartet was workshopped by the Craft Ensemble, our 2020-21 Ensemble-in-Residence. Listen to it here.

Tawnie Olson (2018 Composer-in-Residence) was selected as the winner of the Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition through the National Opera Association. Sanctuary and Storm, composed by Olson and librettist Roberta Barker, will be produced in its entirety at the January 2024 National Conference in Tempe, AZ. Sanctuary and Storm was co-commissioned by the Women Composers Festival of Hartford, with scenes being performed as part of the 2018 Festival on Saturday, April 7th, 2018. Read more on her website and listen to a clip of Sanctuary and Storm here.

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From our 2021 Virtual Festival:
Festival Profiles of former Composers-in-Residence
(Judith Shatin [2012], Andrea Clearfield [2014], Tawnie Olson [2018], and Melika M. Fitzhugh [2020-21]).