Guest Post: Rhiannon Randle Rhapsody for Solo Viola

Henri Hill, Scordatura’s violist, has written this post about Rhiannon Randle’s Rhapsody for Solo Viola.

Randle’s Rhapsody for Solo Viola (2013) holds a special place in my heart. I’ve known Rhiannon for the best part of my life, we’ve grown up performing together and were lucky enough to go to the same university together too. It was in our second year of our Bachelors that Rhiannon wrote this wonderful piece. At the time I had no inkling of her decision to write it until she asked me to record it for her coursework, and her dedication ‘for HEH’ really overwhelmed me then (and still does now)! It’s not every day that you can truly say a piece was written with you in mind by such a wonderful and talented friend! As such, I always reminisce about that time whenever I revisit and perform this piece. And every time I do, I find something new in it, like the many faceted gem that it is. I think for me this is why I love to perform it as often as I can! On hearing that Rachel was setting up her amazing Scordatura: Women’s Collective concert series, Rhiannon was the first person I thought of whose work should be included. She is absolutely an ambassador, not only for women in music, but for the future of composition. Her extraordinary choral work Like a Singing Bird, a BBC commission for International Women’s Day 2015, was premiered live on BBC Radio 3’s The Choir by Sarah Connolly and the Girls’ Choir of St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge; Rhiannon is published by Stainer & Bell; the Ligeti Quartet are due to perform her latest string quartet and her operas are being performed as far as the USA! (Read more about Rhiannon at http://www.rhiannonrandle.com).

Even though I have been fortunate enough to have performed Rhiannon’s Rhapsody several times now since 2013, it never remains the same for me. As we both get older and Rhiannon continues to go on to great things, her style evolves and hopefully so does my playing, and I get a new perspective. What I really value is being able to take the Rhapsody to her to work on together, which is an extremely rare thing we have the opportunity to do as performers! Every time we look at it I learn something! What remains unchanged, and which I love, is the strong gestures and true all-out-there-for-you-to-feel emotion that Rhiannon’s compositions always so strongly feature. I can remember Rhiannon talking to me about her experience of composing a little time after a quartet coaching session we had together with the wonderful violist James Boyd “it’s like James said (about playing), it shouldn’t feel easy – you have to put everything into it”. This work showcases Rhiannon being true to her word. The sound-world itself hints fleetingly of Benjamin Britten (whom Rhiannon was researching at the time) and of Shostakovich, but while still being completely Rhiannon in style. Rhiannon uses the wonderful extremes of colour that the viola can give, making the opening Elegy sound as a sighing song-without-words. Her ability to incorporate gestures of emotional outbursts maintains this feeling that the viola is really singing or speaking to you, opening up to a close friend about something that is happening in their life. The second movement Moto Perpetuo is a dance on the edge of spinning out of control, with emotions bubbling to massive highs only to be subdued until it builds to breaking point, where suddenly fury is unleashed. The massive energy is gradually spent, to wistfully remember the opening Elegy. From this, the last movement Monologue – Conclusion emerges as an innate prayer whereby Rhiannon looks back almost nostalgically on the emotions of the Elegy, only to be interrupted periodically by emotional outbursts which now draw solely from the relentless middle movement. Rhiannon poses a question of which emotion shall resolve the piece. The final answer, begins seemingly with a last rush of extended feeling, wildly relinquishing all restraints. Only the chillingly dark closing chord leaves both performer and audience alike disturbed as to what it was they truly witnessed, as the raw emotion is contained, but is neither subdued nor resolved.

 

Scordatura Women’s Music Collective

SCORDATURA : “A term applied largely to lutes, guitars, viols and the violin family to designate a tuning other than the normal, established one… It offered novel colours, timbres and sonorities, alternative harmonic possibilities and, in some cases, extension of an instrument’s range.” Grove Music Online

Scordatura Women’s Music Collective is a group of musicians who want to extend the established repertoire by performing and championing music written by women. It is a great privilege for me to be working with such fantastic musicians to set up this initiative. With interests ranging from Baroque Historical Performance to contemporary composition to world music, members of the collective will be performing from a huge, varied and beautiful body of music. We don’t believe that music written by women needs ‘special pleading’ or should be kept separate from other repertoire. However,  the fact remains that music by women is woefully underperformed and many fine composers are relatively unknown to audiences. Through the ensemble we hope to redress the balance by increasing our own performance repertoires and sharing new discoveries with our audience. We hope we can inspire others to look a little further outside the established canon, and to do our small bit to further diversity in classical music.

Although this blog will continue primarily to focus on the music I perform as a cellist (and there will be more posts soon, I promise!) I will also be profiling some of the composers featured in upcoming Scordatura concerts.

Elizabeth Maconchy, Divertimento, 1954

The best music is an impassioned argument. I can find no satisfaction in the coldly reasoned discourse. Elizabeth Maconchy

ElizabethElizabeth Maconchy ‘Betty’ Maconchy (1907-1994) was born in Hertfordshire, but grew up in the suburbs of Dublin. As Anna Beer has pointed out, many female composers gained access to a musical education through their fathers, brothers or husbands. Maconchy’s father was a solicitor, and her musical aptitude was discovered at the age of six when she was able to pick out the sounds of church bells on the family piano. She learned piano and harmony with local teachers in Dublin, and then moved back to England to study  at the Royal College of Music a the age of sixteen.  Before that point she had never heard a string quartet and only once heard an orchestra.  At the Royal College her talent as a composer came to the fore. She was a student of Vaughan Williams and her works were chosen for performance by a professional orchestra through the Patron’s Fund. She was also awarded a Blumenthal Scholarship and Octavia Travelling Scholarship, and narrowly missed out on the Mendelssohn Scholarship almost certainly because of her gender.  Hugh Allen, the head of the College, congratulated her on winning the next day only to find that the other jurors had changed their minds and awarded the prize to another student. Unperturbed, he observed that “if we’d given it to you, you’d only have for married and never written another note.” As Maconchy later wryly observed, she did get married but continued to write many notes.  Her daughter, Nicola LeFanu, later won the award.

Maconchy initially had great professional success, with a 1930s performance of her work The Land receiving great acclaim at the Proms. However, her graduation coincided with a particularly difficult period for young composers, and she struggled to have her works published and performed. This was not helped by sexism in the publishing industry (Lesley Boosey, of Boosey and Hawkes, refused to publish anything written by women other than ‘little songs’) or by her own health. She contracted tuberculosis at the age of twenty five, and although she continued to compose she was forced to remove herself from the London musical scene. Rather than accept the difficult climate for composers, Maconchy joined with a dynamic group of women to create their own opportunities in the form of the Macnaghtan-Lemare Concerts. This was a series which showcased the work of young composers and was highly collaborative. It was founded by conductor Iris Lemare, violinist Anne Macnaghtan and composer Elisabeth Lutyens. There was no hierarchy or committee, and musicians were happy to pay for relatively low fees. Maconchy was the most-performed composer in the series, which gave a vital opportunity for her to hear her works performed and to learn from the experience. As she later wrote:

“All composers need to hear performances of their work, not only for stimulation and encouragement but in order to learn the craft and advance their technique.”

It also provided the impetus for to compose her first String Quartet, a genre which became one of the most important parts of her output. A reporter from the Musical Times wrote in 1934 that the concerts presented music in a “most delightful, unconventional way”, and that “after an evening spent with them, one feels music is gloriously alive.”

Maconchy’s Divertimento for Cello and Piano was published in 1954. By this point in her life she was married with two young children, and composed primarily while they were asleep. The work is in five short movements, and displays key elements of her musical style. She was  influenced by Bartok and central European modernism. This is apparent throughout the Divertimento, with her use of short motives, and an ‘intervallic’ rather than tonal style of harmony. Rather than relating to a particular key, the harmony is created through the resonance of particular intervals.

The work opens with a Serenade. The cello plays a pizzicato ostinato over shifting chromatic harmonies, which are largely based on 4ths and diminished intervals. The piano’s lyrical melodic line has an improvised feel. When the cello takes the theme, this idea of improvisation is continued through an ambiguous metre and a series of rhythmic transformations. The ostinato is present throughout, but is developed in texture and by an almost Latin rhythm in the piano.

The Serenade is followed by a series of character movements. Golubchik, named after a Russian term of endearment, is based on the alternation of a triplet motif with a simple melody with a Russian feel. The Clock features mechanical pizzicato semiquavers in the cello and a ‘clockwork’ melody which is repeated throughout. Vigil again features repetition, with a chant-like melody over a simple 2-bar chord pattern. The piece finishes with Masquerade, an energetic movement built on a repeating bar cell of melody. This is followed by a more strident melody, before returning to the opening material with a final triumphant Presto.

Maconchy was a prolific and successful composer, but highly perfectionist to the extent that she withdrew several of her works. Her energy and dedication were not only focused on composition, but also on political causes and working to support and improve conditions for other composers. The Divertimento is hardly her most monumental work, but instead is a wonderful and imaginative set of miniatures. As Gordon Jacob described Maconchy in a report during her time at the Royal College, her music is “excellent in every way.”

Rebecca Clarke, Passacaglia on an Old English Tune, 1944

I’m awfully sorry now that I didn’t [write anything more] because I’ve always felt that I had it in me to write something really good, perhaps, if I’d only gone on with it. Rebecca Clarke, 1978

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) was an Anglo-American composer and violist. Self-depRebecca Clarkerecating to a fault, her music fell completely out of performance during her own lifetime, only to be rediscovered in 1976 due to an interview she gave with Robert Sherman about Myra Hess.  In the course of the interview, Sherman realised that Clarke herself was a composer and later dedicated a programme to the performance of her works.  By far her best known work is the Viola Sonata (also transcribed for cello), which is now featured on over fifteen recordings.  She left behind a small but compelling body of work, of which her Passacaglia on an Old English Tune (also originally written for viola) is a fine example.

Clarke’s initial musical studies were as a violinist at the Royal Academy of Music. She was transferred to the Royal College of Music by her overbearing father, apparently when her harmony teacher had declared his love for her.  Here she studied composition with Charles Stanford, and viola with Lionel Tertis.  Her characteristic lack of self-confidence is demonstrated in a comment on her studies with Stanford:

“That I was the only woman he accepted was a source of great pride to me, though I knew full well that I never really deserved it.”

Clarke forged a highly successful career as a violist, playing with musicians including Pablo Casals, Arthur Rubenstein and Jacques Thibaut.  In 1912 she was one of six female string players to be accepted into Henry Wood’s Queen’s Hall Orchestra, making her one of the earliest female professional orchestral musicians. (The male players were ‘disgusted’ according to Clarke, but eventually accepted their female colleagues.)  In 1925 she performed a recital of her own works at the Wigmore Hall, and she was a member of the English Ensemble, an all-female piano quartet with whom she toured extensively.  Her major breakthrough as a composer came in 1919 when she entered her Viola Sonata into the annual chamber music competition in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  Compositions were submitted anonymously, and Clarke’s Sonata was tied in the jury vote with a suite by Ernest Bloch.  The discovery that her sonata had been written by a woman was so shocking that there were numerous press rumours that ‘Rebecca Clarke’ must be a pseudonym for a male composer. There was even some suggestion that it was another name taken by Ernest Bloch.  In her programme note for a recital of the Sonata in 1977, Clarke confirms that she does indeed exist, and that the Sonata is her unaided work.

Clarke had an ambiguous relationship with her status as a ‘woman composer’.  In an interview with Ellen Lerner in 1976, she claims that the only reason her music had been relatively regularly performed at some points of her life was that ‘people were so anxious to be fair to women.’  However, in the same interview she tells of a concert she gave where, embarrassed by the number of her own pieces on the programme, she claimed that one of the works was by the composer ‘Anthony Trent’.  In press coverage of the concert, the work by ‘Trent’ was given more coverage than those by Clarke, despite her belief that it was musically inferior.

Clarke’s Passacaglia on an Old English Tune was written in 1941, when Clarke was stranded in the United States.  She had gone to visit her brothers before the outbreak of war in 1939, and was refused a visa to return to Britain.  The theme, attributed to Thomas Tallis, is the melody of hymn 153 ‘Veni Creator’ in the 1906 English Hymnal.  Liane Curtis, in her discussion of the Passacaglia, interprets many features of the piece as expressions of Clarke’s depression at being unable to return to London.  The piece is certainly deeply rooted in English music, and the use of a theme by Tallis is a clear link to Vaughan Williams, who Clarke described as “a friend… whose music I admired very much.”  Curtis speculates that the dedication to ‘BB’, which Clarke explained as a nickname for her niece Magdalen, may in fact be a reference to Benjamin Britten.  Clarke was deeply shocked by the death of her friend Frank Bridge in January 1941, and Britten was involved in organising his memorial service.  Although the Passacaglia was not included in that service, it is possible that it was written for that purpose.  It is certainly a distinctly sombre work.  It closely follows the structure of the original hymn, with the theme being passed between the viola (or in this case cello) and different registers of the piano.  Clarke transcribed the work for cello at the request of her friend and fellow member of the English Ensemble May Mukle, to whom I hope to return in a later post.  Curtis writes of the piece:

“The Passacaglia emphasizes both [Clarke’s] sense of longing and a determined hope, a spiritual hope, a spiritual transcendence à la Vaughan Williams, in her most emphatically British musical statement.”

 

Judith Weir, Unlocked

The position classical music has in our society does make it rather removed from current affairs. It’s presented as this refuge from modern life, where you go to have a comfortable sleep, often in a concert.  I don’t think my music is removed from everyday life. Judith Weir (2005 Guardian interview)

In 2014Judith-Weir-Headshot-w257-credit-Chris-Christoloudou, Judith Weir made history by becoming the first ever female Master of the Queen’s Music.  Born to a Scottish family in 1954, she had composition lessons with John Tavener while still at school before studying at King’s College, Cambridge.  Tom Service has described her compositions as ‘addictive, scintillating music’, and she has used a wide range of sources for her work from Scottish traditional music to Chinese opera and Taoist texts.  ‘Unlocked’, written for Ulrich Heinen and first performed in Birmingham in 1999, is no exception.  Weir describes it as a set of five cello ‘fantasias’ based on American folksongs collected by John and Alan Lomax.  Many of these songs were collected from black prisoners in Southern jails, and ‘Unlocked’ explores ideas of captivity and the desire for freedom.  ‘Unlocked’ is for solo cello, and uses a range of extended techniques.  All song texts below are taken from John A. Lomax Our Singing Country.

1. Make Me a Garment

Mama, Mama, make me a garment

And make it long, white and narrow.

Mama, Mama, look on my pillow

And you will find some money

Get along boys, gather ‘round me,

Come pay my fine, come and get me.

My true love died the other day I

Believe I’ll die tomorrow.

 

‘Make Me a Garment’ was collected from a prisoner named Roscoe McLean in 1936.  John Lomax writes that McLean contributed many songs to the Folk Song Archive, but had been on the tuberculosis ward of the Florida Penitentiary.  Lomax writes that in his most recent talk with Roscoe “he could only whisper as he peered through the woven wire netting, sobbing his despair. He will never sing again.” This song is an example of a ‘holler’, a distinct type of African American folk singing. The singer vocalises with an open throat, improvising variations on a simple melody.

Weir uses the ornaments and freedom of melody of the holler, and follows Lomax’s notation of the rhythms sung getting gradually more complex as the piece progresses.  The song melody is disturbed by interjections of a menacing low E which is also used to frame the movement.

2. No Justice

Oh, we don’t get no justice here in Atlanta,

Oh, we don’t get no justice here in Atlanta,

For if you say the law ain’t right,

In the jail you’ll spend the night,

We don’t get no justice here in Atlanta.

Oh, if you say the judge ain’t right,

In the jail you’ll spend the night,

We don’t get no justice here in Atlanta.

Oh, we don’t get no justice here in Atlanta,

If you say the judge ain’t right,

In the gang you’ll stay all night,

You don’t get no justice here in Atlanta.

 

John Lomax records the singer of this song only as a ‘Negro man’ in the Milledgeville State Penitentiary in Georgia.  It is one of a number of protest songs about the treatment of black prisoners, and Lomax describes the man complaining of the cold and the weight of his chains.

Weir employs a number of unusual techniques to convey this angry, forceful melody.  At the very opening the cellist is required to play using only ‘finger resonance’ i.e. bringing the left hand fingers down on the string hard enough to hear the pitch of the notes.  She later asks the cellist to slam the left hand flat on the fingerboard to create a percussive effect, to press the bow right down into the string to create a ‘scratch tone’, to play legato with the wood of the bow, to stamp and to use the body of the cello as a drum.

3. The Wind  Blow East

Oh the wind blow east, the wind blow west,

The wind blow the Sunshine right down in town.

Oh the wind blow east, the wind blow west,

The wind blow the China right down in town.

Oh the wind blow east, the wind blow west,

The wind blow the Setting Star right down in town.

This is a song from the Bahamas, describing the effects of a hurricane.  Three ships, the Sunshine, China and Setting Sun have been blown ‘right down in town.’  This is the only song of the piece with no direct link to prison or prisoners, with the Lomaxes collecting it in 1935 from a ‘group of men and women with a drum’.  Weir writes that the movement represents the prisoner’s dream of a better life.  She asks for the music to be ‘dreamy and faint’, and for a mute to be used throughout.  Rather than a hurricane, the wind in this still and beautiful movement seems to be gentle and warm.

4. The Keys to the Prison

Mama, they’re gonna give me the keys,

To this jailhouse, yes, the keys to this old jailhouse.

What do you mean, give you the keys to this old jail,

When the turnkeys have them hung around their necks

Yes, right around their necks.

Mama, I mean they’re coming to get me about nine this evening,

Yes, and they’re going to hang me at about ten tonight,

Yes, about ten tonight.

 Les Clefs de la Prison is an original composition by a fifteen year old Cajun girl names Elide Hofpauir. Lomax describes it as “a swift and acid dialogue between a condemned man and his father and mother [which] stands alone of its kind among American folksongs.”  The young man sings of how terrible it is to know in advance that he is going to die, and that his mother should be the one to retrieve his body.

Once again, Weir adapts the song to alter its meaning.  She takes the initial excitement of the opening lines, and writes that the piece is “the prisoner’s fantasy that the prison doors are suddenly wide open and the guards have all gone.”  The piece is fast and agile, and ends with a simple version of the melody in artificial harmonics.

5. Trouble, Trouble

Trouble, trouble, I had them all my day,

 Trouble, trouble, trouble, had them all my day.

Well, it seem like trouble go’n’ let me to my grave.

Well, I’m gwine back South, Mamma, where de weather suit my clothes,

Well, I’m go’n back South, babe, where de weather suit my clothes,

Well, I’m gonna lay out on dat green grass, an’ look up at de sky.

Well, so many a day, Mamma, laid in my cell an’ moan,

Well, so many a day, Lawd, laid in my cell an’ moan,

Well, I’m thinkin’ about my baby, Lawd, an’ yo’ happy home.

Well, Mamma, Mamma, here an’ listen to my second mind,

Hey, hey, Mamma, listen to my second mind,

Well, I don’t b’lieve I’d ‘a’ been here, wringin’ my hand an’ cryin’.

 

This movement is a transcription of a blues song sung by a man names James Hale from Alabama.  Weir treats the song simply, alternating the melody with tremolo played over the fingerboard.

 

Nadia Boulanger, Trois Pièces for Cello and Piano (1914)

[Music is a] furious, total passion.  I don’t much want to talk about all this because it’s personal, but the fact is that music is never out of my head.  I hear notes, I always hear notes, I am always thinking of notes.  It isn’t a special skill, it’s a fact. Nadia Boulanger

Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) is frequently recognised as one of the most importantNadia Boulanger composition teachers of all time. Her students included Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, and Elliot Carter and as a teacher at the Conservatoir Americain in Fontainbleu she attracted so many American students that Virgil Thomson joked that she was a ‘one woman graduate school so powerful and so permeating that legend credits every American town with two things – a five-and-dime and a Boulanger pupil’.  Her other musical activities included conducting and editing, and she made the earliest recording of music by Monteverdi.  However, she gave up composition in her own right in the 1920s, claiming that she only wrote ‘useless’ music. The Trois Pièces written in 1914 do not support this harsh self-criticism.

As with so many female composers, Nadia Boulanger was born into an intensely musical family.  Her father Ernest was a composer and singing teacher, her mother was a singer and her sister Lili was also a celebrated   composer.  Although she claims to have hated music as a very young child, Boulanger began attending classes at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of seven, officially entering at the age of nine.  By the time she was sixteen, she had obtained every possible first prize in her studies.  She was determined to win the prestigious Prix de Rome, the highest composition prize for students at the Conservatoire.  She entered on four occasions, first reaching the final round in 1907.  She caused a scandal in the 1908 competition, writing an instrumental rather than a vocal fugue.  Saint-Saens, one of the judges that year, publicly called for her to be disqualified but she was eventually allowed to progress to the final round.  She won the second prize, and although she refused to ascribe her failure to win to sexism, others believed that she had been discriminated against.  Her sister Lili became the first woman to win in 1913.

The relatiNadia Lilionship between Nadia and Lili Boulanger is important in understanding their respective career choices.  Caroline Potter has argued that Lili was ‘allowed’ to have a public career as her chronic ill health meant that ‘as she was unlikely to live long, she would not be a professional threat to her male peers.’  Nadia, on the other hand, was publicly ambitious.  She was also financially responsible for the family, and took on her first official teaching position in 1907.  She believed that Lili was a genius, describing her as the ‘first important woman composer in history’, and following her death in 1918 devoted herself to promoting her works.  It was not long after Lili’s death that Nadia abandoned composition.  The loss of another important figure in her life, the pianist Raoul Pugno, in 1914 may also have been an important factor in the end of her composition career.  Pugno had been her mentor and close associate, and without him she found it more difficult to have her works performed.  Boulanger was also a firm believer in the existence of musical genius and of ‘masterpieces’.  In an interview she gave later in life, she explained her decision: ‘When I decided to abandon composition, it was because I knew that I would never be a great genius.  My music could perhaps have been played, but music played because it is by a good friend doesn’t interest me at all.’

Whether or not the Trois Pièces can be counted as works of ‘genius’ (whatever that is defined as), they are certainly worth being played.  The short pieces are in E-flat minor, A minor and C-sharp minor respectively.  They were written in 1914, and published by Heugel a year later.  Boulanger later withdrew the second piece.  The first movement is dreamy and distant, with a beautiful cello melody over a harmonically static, gently rocking piano accompaniment.  Despite a passionate central section, it returns to its opening mood before apparently floating into mid-air.  The second piece has the simplicity of a folk song, an impression strengthened by the fact it is in the Aeolian mode.  The third piece in C-sharp minor, by contrast, is lively and energetic.  Potter writes that it is reminiscent of Poulenc, and compares it to Lili’s writing for cello.  It is the most balanced between the two instruments of the set, and features a central section in 5/4 before returning to the opening material and ending with a flourish.

Jeanice Brooks writes that Boulanger’s compositions alone cannot justify ‘the iconic status she enjoyed in 20th-century musical culture’.  Her extraordinary stature as a teacher and her decision to give up composition early in her career justify this statement.  Caroline Potter argues that Boulanger could be taken seriously as a teacher in a way that could not have happened as a female composer at that time.  Ultimately as composer, teacher, conductor, editor Boulanger was an outstanding musician who left an impressive legacy.  Despite her self-criticism, her compositions are part of that legacy.

About the Project

I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up on this idea; a woman must not desire to compose – there has never yet been one able to do it.  Should I expect to be the one? (Clara Schumann, 1839)

Given that female composers were not prominent in the Western classical tradition (or others for that matter) there would be very few female composers that could be included. (Head of Music, Edexcel, 2015)

Both Clara Schumann and the Head of Music at Edexcel are wrong – women have been composing music for as long the ‘Western classical tradition’ has existed.  Many, such as Francesca Caccini, were highly successful in their own lifetimes.  Despite the restrictions placed on them, women have continued to compose throughout history.  However, further barriers have prevented female composers from gaining a place in so-called music history.  As Marcia Citron among others has pointed out, a place in the ‘canon’ meant professionalism – publication, repeat performances, regular access to the musical establishment.  Without access to the composers of the past, women like Clara Schumann were left isolated, not realising that there was a historical precedent for them to follow.

One would hope by 2016 that times would have changed.  Although there is a huge amount of excellent work being done bringing music written by women to greater prominence, for example Radio 3’s excellent day of women’s music on International Woman’s Day, much is left to be done.  The response by the Head of Music at exam board Edexcel to student Jessy McCabe’s petition to include female composers on the A-level Music Syllabus demonstrates that not enough has changed.  The exam board did relent, adding five works by women to the 2016 syllabus.  The ABRSM Cello syllabus features not a single woman after Grade 4 (Trinity does better, with Elizabeth Maconchy  and Nadia Boulanger featuring in Grades 6-8).  Young musicians’ perceptions are shaped through the music they learn for exams and hear at concerts.  If they do not hear and play music by women, they will continue to assume that composers are long-dead men. This is turn will make them less likely to seek out works by women.

This project is extremely small scale, and I do not expect it to change the world.  However, I hope to expand my musical knowledge and learn some interesting pieces, and hopefully challenge the perceptions of my students and audiences.  I have an exciting list of composers I am starting to work my way through, and have ordered a satisfyingly large pile of music. Any suggestions of composers and pieces to look at would be gratefully received!