Moving the dial: women composers and orchestras

Posted on: June 20, 2018

“The Women’s March and #MeToo movement have helped raise the volume for women’s voices,” writes Tom Huizenga on Tuesday (6/19) at National Public Radio. “But one place where women still struggle to be heard is in America’s symphony halls…. [Composer] Jennifer Higdon [is] lucky; her music gets played a lot.… ‘Half of humanity is made up of women,’ she says. ‘So why is it we only see one to two percent of the programming of women?’ One answer … comes from Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. ‘If you go back in time, this was not a viable career for a woman to become a composer,’ Rosen explains. ‘And so, you have a canon that, by definition, does not have a lot of women composers in it.’ … For orchestras to simply check off the female composer box once or twice a year isn’t going to cut it either, according to Rosen. ‘If you don’t have a consciousness that says, “We value diversity in all its manifestations,” the default is going to be you’re going to end up with a lot more white men,’ Rosen says.…. It’s up to us ticket holders, [Higdon] says… ‘If you want to hear something by a woman, say something,’ Higdon insists.”

Posted June 20, 2018

Pictured: Composer Jennifer Higdon (in silver tunic) with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the world premiere of her Low Brass Concerto, February 1, 2018. The Philadelphia Orchestra also performed the concerto in April 2018, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform it in 2019. Photo by Todd Rosenberg