Back in February of this year, we examined the issue of 2018/19 programming and its inauspicious lack of women composers at several large and mid-size budget orchestras. At that time, Alex Ross’ tweeted a blurb about the lack of women composers and since then, the topic has drawn attention from a wide range or stakeholders.
One of the latest entries is an excellent commentary piece from Peter Dobrin in the 8/23/2018 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Given that Ross’ tweet from February singled out Philadelphia, Dobrin’s post is uniquely at.
Dobrin highlights some of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s efforts to rectify the lack of women programming. He lauds several initiatives by name but also admits that some are rather ham-handed.
Still, among the overtures to women in the past weeks, the orchestra has hit upon some clumsy solutions. The addition of works by Anna Clyne and Stacey Brown to existing programs is all to the good. But both works are short and still leave the orchestra without a major artistic statement this season by a woman.
News last week that the orchestra would read through works by six female composers in a one-day workshop in collaboration with the American Composers Orchestra was welcome.
Also in the news is this article by Emily Siner in the 8/23/18 edition of Nashville Public Radio that highlights not only a complete lack of women composers amid masterworks programming but an all-male guest conducting roster for the 2018/19 season at the Nashville Symphony Orchestra (NSO). While the NSO does include women soloists, it’s a 12/88 ratio with men.
The NSO’s programming was brought to light by a tweet from MusicTheoryExamplesbyWomen.com, a database of excerpts and complete works composed by women & categorized by theoretical concept.
No works composed or conducted by any women will be performed by the Nashville Symphony this year.*@nashvillesymph
*except, perhaps, these co-written pieces presented w/o orchestra pic.twitter.com/KJb727bMUc
— MTEW.org (@MTEW_com) August 22, 2018
Sites like MTEW and the Women Composers Database (project details) go a long way toward providing programming resources for orchestras of all budget size to explore women composers and identify candidates and their works.