The International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) Blog

Daring Divas 3: Finding Repertoire: Publishers to Explore, Part One

Posted in Julie_Cross by iawmblog on May 24, 2010

Greetings all!  There are quite a few wonderful resources for classical vocal music to explore, and I’d like to share a bit about each that I’ve found.  If I haven’t mentioned one that you know about, please do feel free to share their information in the comments section. The first two companies have absolutely huge catalogues with an amazing selection.

The first company is Classical Vocal Reprints, owned by Glendower Jones.  Mr. Jones is passionate about his repertoire, extremely knowledgeable, and always more than willing to share information about the music he has in his catalog.  If you call the company’s main line you will likely speak with him directly.  He is a generous man; in 2007 I participated in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Intern Program, and he generously donated multiple music scores to all twelve of us! He is the main publisher for Lori Laitman’s songs, and also carries the music of IAWM members Judith Cloud and Joelle Wallach.  In addition to Laitman’s music, I purchased a wonderful selection of spirituals by Jacqueline Hairston (niece of African-American choral composer/actor Jester Hairston) from his site, and highly recommend them for singers of all levels.  I also see that Jones carries the music of American composers Lora Aborn, Vivian Fung, Valerie Saalbach, Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, and Joyce Hope Suskind. He also carries some music of Beach, Chaminade, and publishes Baroque music through Green Man Press.   So much to explore…and when budget allows I cannot wait to explore the vocal music of many more of these composers.  The website: http://www.classicalvocalrep.com/

Company #2 has a similar wonderful owner: Walter Foster of Recital Publications.  He carefully selects each piece of music he carries, and is very accessible for dialogue if you are interested in the music of a particular composer. (He even put me in touch with an additional European publisher for a composer I was researching.) His focus is on late 19th and early 20th century art songs from many countries, with some additional genres such as concert arias, duets, and vocal chamber music.  I researched and discovered the music of Giulia Recli, Mary Turner Salter, Adela Maddison, Bertha Frensel Wegener-Koopman, Mathilde von Kralik, Yvette Guilbert, Helen Hopekirk, and others through Foster’s great reprints.  Many items in his catalog are public domain materials reprinted for modern use.  This is a bonus for recording and performance purposes!  In addition to the above composers, the following female composers are included in the RP catalogue: Frances Allitsen, Dina Appeldoorn, Adele Aus der Ohe, Agathe Backer-Grondahl, Amy Beach, Lili and Nadia Boulanger, Gena Branscombe, Cecile Chaminade, Henriette Coclet, Eva Dell’Acqua, Cécile Dufresne, Eleanor Everest Freer, Mme. Marie de Grandval, Marie Hinrichs, Augusta Holmes, Elisabeth Kuyper, Margaret Ruthven Lang, Liza Lehmann, Lise Maria Mayer, Catharina van Rennes, Clara Kathleen Rogers, Lady John (Alice) Scott, Hilda Sehested, Rita Strohl, Julie Weissberg, Maude White, Elsa Laura von Wolzogen, and others.  If I win the lottery I will purchase the complete catalogue!!!  In the meantime, there is much to explore and many female composers worthy of research and consideration.  I highly recommend this company and its incredible owner.  The website: http://recitalpublications.com/

In order to do each publishing company justice, I will continue this discussion in another post.  Stay tuned, and please comment if you have any experiences to share or any composers you recommend from the above publishers. Thanks for reading!

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Julie Cross, Treasurer of the IAWM, is a mezzo teaching voice, diction, and vocal literature at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. She blogs about how performers choose repertoire.

Encounters with Contemporary Women Composers 3

Posted in Theresa_Sauer by iawmblog on May 9, 2010

In Rushworth, Australia with a population of 1000, there’s a woman who is doing incredible research concerning musical scores and composition.

Carmen Chan recently had an exhibition at the Shepparton Art Gallery entitled, ‘Do You See What I Hear? Exploring Cross-sensory Experiences in Visual and Musical Arts by a Variety of Interpreters of Graphic Scores.’ At this exhibit were five scores, an audio-visual production of Benjamin Boretz’s ‘Talk’, and some junk instruments she had collected. Two of the scores were exhibited with music, where viewers could listen through headphones, and there was also a performance where visitors played all five scores.

Carmen’s research project is centered at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia where she is doing post-graduate studies.  She is mainly interested in how unconventional notation acts as a guide to improvisation. This originated from her experience as a performer in percussion, which eventually led to score making and, in a broader sense, composition. By inviting the public to interpret music from visual materials, she is essentially promoting experimental music making activity. Carmen says, “I was influenced by reading about Cornelius Cardew and his Scratch Orchestra, and I’m trying to explore avenues that allow experimental music activities to happen within a broader community.

I wanted to know more details about her background. She received training in percussion performance at the University of Melbourne under Tim Hook.  Next she went to Musikhögskolan i Piteå in Northern Sweden with the intention of practicing ‘standard’ repertoire in isolation.  There, she met Gary Verkade, a Professor in Organ, and studied improvisation, interpretation, graphic notation, history, analysis and as Carmen says, ‘everything music’. She began to make her own scores when she was studying Cardew’s ‘Treatise’ with Verkade.

She thought that the most exciting score at the exhibition was the one on the wall and it was completely unplanned, but it worked really well in terms of asking viewers what music they could play ‘from it’, and then inviting them to give it a go.  She also put pianos – one upright, one junk, and one prepared in front of the score so people could read the score as they played.

I asked Carmen about the junk instruments and why they were included in the exhibition. She replied, “The junk instruments worked fantastically, both ‘visually’ and for the ‘exotic’ value for music making. The reason for using non-traditional instruments is to disassociate potential interpreters with the idea of trained professionalism, in order to promote creativity.

Carmen is planning on moving this project from the gallery setting at a University into a more community-minded setting, which does not have values of status and authority associated with it.  She is very hopeful to engage with more people.

And so, I wished to pursue this idea of scores and the concept of composer. What actually makes a composer? Carmen says, “I suppose I’m not entirely sure about being called a ‘composer’, because I don’t compose music as such, I just make scores, and invite people to interpret them.  I’m more of a score-maker, if that’s a word.”

But what do you think about that? Does a score need to have detailed or even minimally guided direction for performance in order for the creator of the score to be considered a composer?

…new territory being explored by an amazing woman in an amazing place.

The recordings of interpretation will be broadcast on Radio Monash soon…for more information on Carmen please visit http://arts.monash.edu.au/music/research/student-profiles.php

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Theresa Sauer is the author/editor of Notations 21, an anthology of innovative visual notation from around the world. She is the Director of the Notations 21 Project. She lectures, curates exhibits, produces concerts, and also composes music using innovative music notation. She is in the process of developing a documentary about Notations 21.

For more information visit: website notations21.net and blog http://notations21.wordpress.com/

Peggy McIntosh’s “five interactive phases”

Posted in Susan_Borwick by iawmblog on May 9, 2010

Almost thirty years ago, Peggy McIntosh of the Wellesley Women’s Research Centers spoke on incorporating women into the college curriculum at one of the first national conferences on women’s and gender studies.  My, how attitudes and possibilities have changed since 1983!  Yet McIntosh’s ideas still offer a lot.

Let me apply McIntosh’s “five interactive phases” or gender-informed attitudes to women and music:

Phase 1.  Womanless music
People in this phase simply don’t address the fact that women are in music.  Their values tell the story of men in music as if only men exist in music.  For example, they present music history as if women have had no part in it—no Hildegard of Bingen or Joan Tower.  Musicians in phase 1 are now rare, yet they remain powerful.  Thirty years ago, they were the vast majority.

Phase 2.  Women in music
In the second phase, a few extraordinary women who succeeded in a man’s world are accepted as having value.  Madonna, Amy Beach, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel—these are seen as proving that, if a woman is talented enough or fortunate enough, she can earn importance.  The implication, though, is that most women are not talented or fortunate enough.  Many musicians today are stuck in phase 2.

Phase 3.  Women as a problem or issue in music
Emotions define phase 3.  Some, typically women, are angry or hurt or frustrated—that is, emotional—about the way women are treated or not included.  Others are angry or frustrated—that is, emotional—that some people raise gender issues at all.  Opinions collide.  Feelings are heightened.  Some younger women today (“third wave”) see older women (“second wave”) as sitting in phase 3.  “Why are they so angry?”

Phase 4.  Women as music
In this phase, people are so fascinated with women and music that they center on them.  “Women and music” courses illustrate this phase, for they provide a way for women to be the subject of study in a curriculum otherwise almost devoid of them.  Some phase-4 people spend much of their career in the world of women-and-music: teaching women and music courses, advocating for women and music, providing models for other women to enter music and succeed.  They find fulfillment in phase 4.

Phase 5.  Women and people of color and all multiplicities of identity are given equal status in music
Nowadays this last phase is a goal rather than a reality.  It is the inclusive world of music, and it allows for musical merit to determine success.  Trust me, our world of music shifts greatly in phase 5.

McIntosh points out that a flipflop in attitudes takes place between phases 3 and 4:  Women are fully valued in music in the last two phases.  McIntosh also points out that we move back and forth from phase to phase, rather than climb a ladder through the phases.

Since 1983, Peggy McIntosh’s work has grown into the related world of multi-cultural and gender-fair curricula.  Women in music have, too, as we’ve learned to apply our experiences as women to those other groups who have been excluded from fully participating in music.

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Susan Borwick is a musicologist, theorist, and composer teaching at Wake Forest, and she’s also the Secretary of IAWM. Her areas of specialization include women’s and gender studies, and spirituality and the arts. She blogs about teaching “women and music” in a liberal arts setting.

Young Children and Improvisation

Posted in Eliška_Cílková by iawmblog on May 6, 2010

My musical career started when I was four years old. I started to play piano because I loved listening music and we had an instrument in our living room. I played by ear before I learned to read music. I played anything I heard and enjoyed.

At the age of five, my mother took me to basic music school to hone my skills. This was shortly after the fall of Communism in the Czech Republic. I had to play Czerny’s Etudes, and Baroque and Classical works: boring pieces I didn’t like as a five-year-old. Several times I wanted to quit but fortunately, I came in contact with new instructors who nurtured my love of music.

When I was fifteen I entered a music school in Prague that included composition and improvisation in the curriculum. I was quite surprised at the difference! I loved it. Nowadays, improvisation is a part of curriculum at most music schools in the Czech Republic.

Improvisation has become an important component of music lessons. And what’s more, it’s very helpful. My friend is a teacher of improvisation. She told me there many ways to teach improvisation. For example, she paints pictures and then shows it to the students (5-6 years old) and says, “Play, play, what you see”.

She told me a story about a very talented seven-year-old girl. She improvised a thunderstorm. She started to play the deep tones: that was thunder. Next, she moved to the right part of the fingerboard and she quickly played high tones: that was rain. Than she started to add more and more tones and used the whole fingerboard. Finally she played a C minor chord which resolved to C major: that was the sun.

Parents of my friend’s students children have said, “Our children are better at classical piano than before and it’s because they do not only concentrate on reading notes and moving their fingers. They listen to what they play. That’s thanks to studying improvisation.”

Improvisation is very beneficial for everyone, for every instrumentalist or singer. It develops color imagination. I’m very happy that improvisation is more readily taught in music lessons.

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Eliška Cílková recently moved to Bratislava, Slovakia where she is in her first year studying composition at Academy of Music. She blogs about her experiences as a student at the Jazz Conservatory in Prague.