Virginia Symphony program, highlighting overlooked women composers: Hensel, Beach, Mahler

Posted on: November 13, 2017

When conductor JoAnn Falletta was named music director of San Francisco’s Bay Area Women’s Philharmonic in the 1980s, “the mission for the group was to play music written by women,” writes Rashod Ollison in Sunday’s (11/12) Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA). “But Falletta … had no clue about classical music written by women…. Says Falletta, the longtime music director for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. ‘We just studied the staples of the repertoire, so we were studying men.’ … More than 30 years later, the mission for that early position in San Francisco now informs [the Virginia Symphony’s] ‘Women in Music,’ a program on Thursday night that Falletta will conduct” with music by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Alma Mahler, and Amy Beach. “ ‘Now we know there are lots of women studying to become composers,’ says Falletta… ‘But in the 18th century and 19th century it was very rare. So that’s the premise of the concert: to … hear … from composers … whose music may not be known that well today.’ ” Says Falletta, “If you were to hear these pieces for the first time, there would be no way of knowing these were written by women. And I guess that’s the point, to show that it’s genderless.”

Posted November 13, 2017

Pictured, left to right, three composers featured in the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s November 16 concert: Fanny Hansel, Amy Beach, Alma Mahler