Classical 91.5

women composers

Musical Women of the Suffrage Movement

Feb 28, 2020
Portrait of Dame Ethyl Smyth by John Singer Sargent (1901)

As we prepare to celebrate Women's History Month, our minds are on trailblazing women of the past and present. Last month we celebrated Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday and our own Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra presented concerts on the music of suffrage and Susan B. Anthony herself. As I explored this music, I was drawn to suffrage songs and the women who created and inspired them. Many of these composers changed the game for women in music, but they are not often remembered today.

For many composers, getting a piece played by a single American orchestra is a major coup. A repeat in another city is a rare victory; a third outing is a miracle. So it’s not clear what one should call the run that Joan Tower’s Made in America had in the early 2000s, when it was performed by more than 65 orchestras in all 50 states.

A lifelong champion of living composers, Tower became an advocate for women composers specifically, taking stands on granting panels and fighting for compatriots like Tania León and Jennifer Higdon.

10/5      Women Walking in Their Own Shoes Groundbreaking women who follow their own path

10/12    Telling Tales  National Storytelling Weekend is Oct 4-6, so we’ll explore music that tells stories

10/19    Patchwork Quilt, Part XVI Another episode, sharing performance and works by women

10/26    Strung Along  Women playing strings

6/1       Looking North  Music by women from Canada

6/8       Looking South Music by women from the Southern Hemisphere

6/15      Looking East, Part 2 Music by women from Asia and the Middle East

6/22      Looking West Music by women from Europe

6/29      Looking Toward Home Music by women from the United States

Global Dimension

On International Women's Day (March 8th), WQXR, one of the largest classical radio stations in the U.S. presented a challenge to classical stations across the country.  To present a full day of classical music composed, conducted and performed by women and to make a conscious decision to increase the percentage of music being played by women over the next 12 months.

APM Stations

3/8 at 3:00pm Irish Inspirations: Women in Irish Classical Music (Rpt Sun 3/17, 2:00pm)

Say what you will about beauty pageants, but this one is a winner in the eyes of classical music fans.  On Sunday night in Atlantic City, opera singer and composer Nia Franklin was crowned Miss America.  

Franklin is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina who earned her master's degree in music composition from UNC School of the Arts.  She moved to New York after being accepted at the Kenan Fellow program at Lincoln Center Education in Manhattan.

I Care If You Listen

Formed in 2010, the Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble is dedicated to commissioning and premiering new works for female, a cappella vocal quartet.  Hear them on the 9/30 broadcast.

Close Up with Jennifer Higdon - Part I

Jul 31, 2018
J. Henry Fair /

Pulitzer Prize and two-time Grammy-winner Jennifer Higdon (b. Brooklyn, NY, December 31, 1962) currently hold the Rock Chair in Composition at The Curtis School of Music. Her works represent a wide range of genres, from orchestral to chamber, to wind ensemble, as well as vocal, choral and opera.

What we call "in" and "out" of tune, although one may disagree when one hears a below average middle school band concert, is actually relevant.