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Women in Music UK 20th anniversary

Women in Music (WiM) sprang into existence 20 years ago this July, with a meeting of like-minded women who wanted to do something about the lack of visibility for women composers. 20 years on, we do at last have several high profile women composers, however the average person will still struggle to name them on the fingers of one hand.

Taking in all the different genres of music along the way, Women in Music has many achievements to be proud of (see our "history" page) however the driving force remains a group of women concerned about the low profile of women composers. You only have to read our latest Proms report below to see why.

Suzanne Chawner, WiM e-newsletter editor.

PROMS season 2007.

Last year's BBC Proms season was famously without any women composers or conductors at all (apart from a small piece by Thea Musgrave, which was given no publicity, and was not listed in the Proms booklet or on the Proms website). So there is some expectation that the 2007 season should make amends. The Director, Nicholas Kenyon, stated last year that the Proms "achieves balance over several seasons, not every season." So that should mean that in some years, women's achievements are represented on a greater scale than might be suggested by the numbers of women working in classical music.

Here are the figures for the 2007 PROMS:

Number of composers: 118
Number of living composers 30
Women composers: 5 (4.2%)

Thea Musgrave

Several of the works by women are BBC Commissions, although only one work (by Thea Musgrave) is a substantial work that is part of the main evening concerts. A second commission is a 2 minute brass fanfare by Judith Bingham, and the 3rd commission is a dramatised piece for children for an afternoon performance, by Rachel Portman. The other works by women composers (Elizabeth Maconchy and Judith Weir) are part of lunchtime or matinee concerts in the Cadogan Hall. In contrast, there are 26 substantial pieces included in the main evening concerts by living male composers, 3 in late night concerts and 6 in lunchtime or afternoon concerts. That is, of substantial works performed in the main evening concerts, 1 work by a living woman composer and 26 by living men composers. Is this the "balance achieved over several seasons" to make up for last year's none?

There are several women conductors this year, but surprisingly few women instrumental soloists.

Conductors/directors: 67
Women conductors: 2 (2.9%)
These were Marin Alsop and Susanna Malkki.
Instrumental soloists: 5 women out of 53 (9.4%)

This is considerably lower than most years.
Hmm - could do better???
Jenny Fowler

New Women in Music Management Committee

Following WiM's AGM, held on Saturday, 28 April 2007, at Conway Hall in London, we are pleased to announce the new WiM Management Committee.  They are:

Sarah Cole – new Chair (07-08)
Cheryl Frances-Hoad
Debbie Golt
Sonnja Grossner
Natalee Jeremic
Chetna Kapacee
Sarah Maidlow
Catherine Pestano
Catherine Pluygers – Treasurer
Margaret Lucy Wilkins - Secretary
Angela Willes – outgoing Chair (06-07)
Committee Observers
June Boyce Tillman
Jennifer Fowler
Julia Usher
New Chair, Sarah Cole, said:
"As chair of WiM 2007-8 I must start by thanking our previous Chair, Angela Willes for all the work she has put in during the last 5 years, work that has ensured that WiM continues to exist. Angela became Chair in 2002, just at the time when WiM was undergoing a transformation, due to the loss of core funding from the Arts Council. Women in Music then became a project-based organisation, and 2 major projects were completed successfully during these years, the second round of the Commissioning fund, and the Mentoring Scheme funded by EQUAL - Creative Renewal. For a time Angela continued as the only post holder in Women and Music, but of course our projects were ably run and administered by staff from Soundsense. We are now entering a new phase, with the end of these projects and the committee taking over entire responsibility for running Women in Music. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Kathryn Deane for her work in running WiM’s accounts so efficiently over the past 9 years. Many thanks are also due to Clare Adams, for her excellent work on the administration side.
One of the tasks which the committee is currently undertaking is to find a home for WiM’s archive materials. The archive includes some of the work generated by the Commissioning funds as well as copies of Women in Music Now magazine, and copies of A Guide to Orchestral Repertoire by Women Composers by Sophie Fuller. A new Centre for Women's Education has already expressed interest in housing some of our archive materials."

Gender and Musical Performance
A one day conference discussing aspects of Gender and Musical Performance is planned for 3 November 2007 at the Department of Music, University of Sheffield.
The conference starts at 9.45 am and costs £15 to attend.

Cheryl Frances-Hoad wins grant to write a piano concerto 

Women in Music has recently heard from composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad who has won a grant from Wicklow County Council's Per Cent for Arts programme to write a piano concerto.  Women in Music is proud to say that Cheryl found out  about the competition through our website.  Cheryl said: "I only entered this because I saw it on the amazingly brilliant WIM opportunities page - so, thank you so much! This will support me for about a year, so suddenly all my (rather chronic until 5 mins ago) money worries have disappeared! Your site really has quite a massive effect on people like me, who would otherwise not enter these competitions....thank you!"
The Competitions and Opportunities page, of particular relevance to composers, is assiduously edited and maintained by composer Jennifer Fowler, and we believe it to be the best and most comprehensive list of its kind.
See Cheryl's blog about the Wicklow Piano Concerto.

Errollyn Wallen awarded MBE
Women in Music would like to congratulate composer and singer/songwriter Errollyn Wallen on being awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in June. Errollyn, whose opera The Silent Twins ("an unequivocal hit" - The Guardian) is currently running at Almeida Opera, has been a long-time supporter of Women in Music. She is unusual in being equally respected as a contemporary classical composer and as a pop-influenced singer/songwriter.
See Errollyn's website for more information.

Women in Music UK
Women in Music has recently re-named itself "Women in Music UK". In the increasingly vibrant and globe-shrinking environment of the internet, WiM felt that this re-branding was necessary to distinguish us from other women in music organisations around the world. Other notable international women in music organisations with whom we have close ties include the International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM - based in the USA) and Donne in Musica, Foundation Adkins Chiti (based in Italy).
Women in Music would like to wish all its members and supporters a happy and healthy Summer.