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Confessions of a Composeress [NY Times: The Score]

6 Aug

Confessions of a Composeress [NY Times: The Score]

Things didn’t get better on their own. Some of the credit goes to all of the women and men who have taken an active stance in performing, programming and writing about music by both sexes. Older institutions can still be bogged down by their own sheer weight, though; the hefty financial investment of a new orchestral work or opera can make more conservative organizations balk, and the few new works that they do commission often conform to the old model. Can we expect these institutions to move as quickly to represent both sexes? Maybe not, but we should make our voices heard.

I recently started the arduous process of proposing a new work to orchestras and chamber orchestras that’s inspired by jammed radio signals in World War II. Do I think it may be overlooked because I’m female? No, but it could take a while to find a home because it’s a big, raucous, noisy, unconventional piece that won’t be easily performed alongside Tchaikovsky. In the meantime I develop the idea further through solo pieces and small chamber works. We can subvert (and improve) the system every time a new work by a woman is performed by one of these big institutions. And a big, noisy, raucous, unconventional piece by a woman? Icing on the cake. . . .  I always made an effort to submit my music to programs that weren’t representing many women composers, tempering optimism with a calculated risk, figuring the best way to alter the balance was to give the powers that be the opportunity to change things.

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