As March comes to a close, I wanted to mention a couple of events involving the New York Women Composers organization. On February 14, the Light and Sound ensemble, a new trio formed by violinist Julianne Klopotic with Jennifer DeVore on cello and Elaine Kwon on piano performing on a regular basis at the wonderful Old Stone House in Brooklyn, a quaint historic residence where the wood paneling and floors provide great acoustics and a “fireplace”, warm atmosphere, presented works by Margarita Zelenaia from Russia, Beth Anderson, Rain Worthington, Svjetlana Bukvich-Nichols from Bosnia, Judith Zaimont and myself.
On March 25, at the Greenwich House, a program entitled Women’s Work, curated by Beth Anderson and the New York Women Composers, was performed by Mimi Stern-Wolfe on piano, Andrew Bolotowsky on flute and Mary Hurlbut, soprano. It features pieces by Lucy F. Coolidge, Judith Sainte Croix, Sorrell Hays, Lenore Von Stein, Anne Tardos, Tamara Bliss and myself (for the living composers) as well as Tui St George Tucker and the interesting Cecile Chaminade, one of the few French female composers being rediscovered (1857-1944). The auditorium a Greenwich House Music School was packed. This location also boasts excellent acoustics.
I haven’t seen much coverage of these well-organized and exciting events. It appears to me that the media have generally been somewhat reluctant to promote women in March this year… or maybe the whole idea of women’s history month has lost its gloss – it is old news by now? I’ll miss it. I used to think that women’s events were reinforcing the ghettoization of women and therefore avoided them somewhat. I believed that women’s music should be presented along with men’s music without any discrimination based on gender, and that one should not have to go to a women’s music event in order to hear music by women composers. Women still have to go a long way to be equally represented on the music scene. I once had an idea of a program entitled “Is there women’s music” where pieces by men and women would be played and the audience would be invited to guess who wrote them. It would be an interesting expreriment. I don’t believe that women’s music is in essence different than music written by men: a composer, either female or male, has a developed a strong individuality through the “trenches” of the composing process.