At orchestras, signs of progress for women composers

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The New York Philharmonic gave the world premiere of Stride by Tania León (at center) in February 2020, led by Music Director Jaap Van Zweden. The premiere was part of the orchestra’s multi-season initiative honoring the centenary of the 19th Amendment. Photo by Chris Lee

“Clarice Assad has learned to look to the back of the room for the shy girls, the ones who are afraid to step up to the microphone and lead with their voices,” writes Kendra Nordin Beato in Wednesday’s (7/29) Christian Science Monitor (Boston). “The Brazilian American composer and performer … was commissioned to help a group of girls compose a pop piece based on Sojourner Truth’s speech ‘Ain’t I a Woman’ for [the Albany Symphony’s] American Music Festival ‘Sing Out! New York’ last year…. A recent study by the Institute for Composer Diversity reported that of the 4,066 works scheduled to be performed by 120 American orchestras in the 2019-20 season, only 8% are by women…. But there are signs of progress. The League of American Orchestras has been sponsoring emerging female composers since 2014. For the 2019-20 season, many orchestras planned special programs featuring compositions by women to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment…. Working with girls over the past decade—and the orchestra world’s season focused on women—gives Ms. Assad hope…. ‘But, you know, we don’t want one year to be the vote for us and then nothing. We want that to keep going,’ she says.”

Read Symphony’s article about orchestras commissioning compositions by women to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

 

July 30, 2020

Fort Worth Symphony to perform live, scaled-down fall 2020 season

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“The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra announced it will be performing live as planned this fall, but with a modified schedule and reduced audience capacity based on venue restrictions,” reads an unsigned article in Monday’s (7/27) Fort Worth Business Press (TX). “Due to these heavy restrictions, intended to protect patron safety, the FWSO has moved its Pops Series to the Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium. The Symphonic Series will continue to be performed at Bass Performance Hall. The symphony said in a news release that the organization has worked closely with venues and government health officials to ensure its live performances are safe for patrons, musicians, and staff. ‘We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is still here in Texas, unfortunately, which is why we modified our schedule to insure our patrons are safe and socially-distant while experiencing the power of live music,’ says [President and CEO] Keith Cerny.… Subscribers will be provided new seating arrangements to accommodate the venue capacity. Additionally, the FWSO has added a fourth Saturday matinee performance to the Symphonic Series to adequately meet subscriber demand.”

July 30, 2020

Pacific Symphony to stream archived concerts, with new interviews

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“Are you missing live Pacific Symphony concerts? You’re not alone, which is why Pacific Symphony is launching a free online symphonic series dubbed ‘Summer Replay’ that begins July 30 and runs every other Thursday evening at 7 p.m. through September 10,” writes Christopher Trela in Tuesday’s (7/28) Newport Beach Independent (CA). “Maestro Carl St.Clair conducts all the concerts in the series, and he’s always a joy to watch on the podium. St.Clair is entering his fourth decade as Pacific Symphony’s music director…. He’s guided the symphony to international prominence while helping to launch significant education and community outreach programs. Now, St.Clair is re-imagining the orchestra’s contribution to the community and pivoting to an online presence … via this four-concert virtual series, which highlights select Pacific Symphony performances of great masterworks featured in past seasons. The series host is Eileen Jeanette, the Symphony’s senior vice-president of artistic planning. She welcomes audiences to each program and interviews Pacific Symphony musicians before each concert begins. Her first interview is with St.Clair, who sets the stage for the concerts to follow.” “Summer Replay” programs feature music by Beethoven, Berlioz, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky.

July 30, 2020

Delays in opening of new Steinmetz Hall affect Orlando Philharmonic’s plans

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“The long-awaited final hall of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will not make its debut until 2021—the exact date still unknown,” writes Matthew J. Palm in Tuesday’s (7/28) Orlando Sentinel (FL). “As the coronavirus pandemic continues, officials said they had no way to predict when the public would be able—or ready—to return to live performances on a large scale…. Construction at the $606 million center has continued during the pandemic, and Steinmetz Hall is expected to be substantially completed by the fall. The new hall will provide an acoustically balanced venue for performances involving live orchestral music, such as those by the Orlando Philharmonic, Opera Orlando and Orlando Ballet.… ‘The opening of Steinmetz Hall … will be planned at a future date determined by a number of factors: safety criteria, audience confidence, the acoustical tuning of the hall, economic viability and workforce readiness,’ stated the letter [from Phillips Center officials].… The Orlando Philharmonic has four concerts, from September to November, scheduled in [the Center’s] Bob Carr Theater or Steinmetz Hall. A spokeswoman said the orchestra was committed to performing in some way and was studying its options.”

July 30, 2020

U.K. government to distribute $1.9 billion to help the arts during pandemic

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“The U.K. government has revealed how its planned £1.57 billion ($1.9 billion) Cultural Recovery Fund will be disbursed across arts sectors,” writes Naman Ramachandran in Tuesday’s (7/28) Variety. “Of the total amount, the government has currently released £880 million ($1.14 billion), which has been split into two funding rounds. The first round of £622 million ($805.3 million) will be distributed immediately, while the remaining £258 million ($334 million) will be reserved for a second round of funding later in the financial year to meet the developing needs of organizations. In the first funding round, Arts Council England will oversee £500 million ($647.3 million) to support theaters, music and comedy venues and museums. This allocation includes £2.25 million ($2.9 million) in immediate support for grassroots music venues…. As part of the Arts Recovery Fund, grants of up to £3 million ($3.88 million) will protect important cultural assets and ensure arts and heritage continues to play a key role in levelling up the country. A new independent Culture Recovery Board will … help administer the program, advising on the largest grant as well deciding the beneficiaries of the £270 million ($350 million) repayable finance element.”

July 30, 2020

NYC Steinway factory reopens

Media View

“It’s a symphony of manufacturing on the production line at the historic Steinway & Sons piano factory once again,” writes Clodagh McGowan in last Wednesday’s (7/22) NY1.com. “For 150 years, pianos handcrafted to withstand the test of time have been made in this Astoria factory. But for the first time in the company’s history, the doors closed for nearly four months, due to the coronavirus pandemic. ‘During Work War II, we had a very minimal staff in here building various things for the war effort,’ said Ron Losby, the president and CEO of Steinway Musical Instruments. ‘But we were never closed.… Even during the 1918 flu pandemic, we remained open.’ … The company was forced to furlough the majority of its workers in March, though the factory partially reopened earlier [this] month, bringing back about 20 percent of its total workforce. This week, the company is at now officially at full production, with more than 200 artisans and craftspeople.… While the factory is following new sanitary and socially distancing guidelines … production is back on track…. According to Losby, sales have been surprisingly strong, about 60 percent of normal, despite the pandemic and the economic fallout.”

July 30, 2020

Hartford Symphony’s free, outdoor chamber concerts, July 30-Aug. 25

Industry Buzz

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut will perform five live concerts in its HSO Summer Splash! Series of hour-long chamber events in and around Hartford in July and August. The first concert in the series is set for July 30 (rain date August 4) at 6:30 pm at Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center and will feature the HSO Brass Quintet. Additional concerts are scheduled for August 12 at 12 p.m. on the Wadsworth Atheneum lawn in Hartford; August 12 and 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington; and August 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center. Concerts are free and open to the public, but guests must register for tickets in advance, and no walk-ups will be permitted. Attendees are required to wear masks unless they are in a designated seating area with household members; seating areas will be marked and are a minimum of 6 feet apart at all performances. Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development social distancing measures are required for these events. Capacity for the Simsbury Meadows events is 300 people. Capacity for the Hill-Stead Museum and Wadsworth Atheneum events is 100 people. For more information visit the Hartford Symphony’s website.

July 30, 2020