The International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) Blog

Daring Divas: An Introduction

Posted in Julie_Cross by iawmblog on January 21, 2010

What does it mean to be a female performer?  What does it mean to focus on women’s music throughout your performing career?  How do others perceive you as a woman performing women’s music, or a woman performing music in general?  How do you choose and program repertoire?

A friend once said that one could identify mediocre singers by their focus on the music of women composers and/or new and contemporary music.  This opinion is not unique to my friend: many musicians have heard it before, whether spoken directly or implied.  How does this affect those who wish to focus on such music?   Furthermore…women’s music has continually been labeled as a separate entity in many performing circles. How do women composers infiltrate the mainstream?  Where is the balance between “niche focus” and assimilation?  How many groups are regularly programming the music of women composers?  Are there any generational tendencies?

I’m a voice professor and performer who tries to find balance on these issues.  I try to introduce my students to the songs of women composers while assuring that they study the so-called “standard” male composers as well for their own depth of knowledge base.  I sing some song recitals consisting solely of female composers, some of male composers (by default), and most incorporating both genders.  As a female singer, I encounter fewer biases considering voice types than those who play various instruments.  I will be writing from the perspective of a vocal performer, but will converse with others for an instrumental point of view.  There are many wonderful publishers and recording companies/artists who focus on the music of women, and I will mention their offerings from time to time as well.  I have a passion for song literature, and will discuss themed recitals, women poets whose words have been set to song, and issues of women singing songs originally intentioned for men (such as Schubert’s Winterreise.)

I’m thrilled to be able to blog about these issues, to unearth preconceived notions, tendencies, thoughts, concerns, celebrations, and joys about performing women’s music, choosing repertoire of female composers, and being a woman in the performing arts world.  There’s so much to discuss!  It is my goal to approach these topics with a positive, proactive attitude.  We are not victims, but dedicated musicians interested in the highest possible artistic integrity for all in our field.  This is essential!   If you have any special requests for discussion, please feel free to leave a comment.  I can’t wait to begin to navigate through these questions and more, to set up a large-scale dialogue about women and the performing world.  Let’s begin!


Julie Cross teaches voice at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and is Treasurer of IAWM.  She recently recorded a CD entitled Songs of Forgotten Women, with songs of Giulia Recli, Bertha Frensel Wegener-Koopman, Mathilde von Kralik, and Adela Maddison.


One Response

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  1. Liane Curtis said, on February 1, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Where can we buy your CD?

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