This was an exciting year for those of us following women’s work in music. We’ve already talked a bit about the tremendous opportunities and advancements women have made in conducting roles. But Let’s also take some time to look at the plethora of “Highlight” lists that have been shared online and see how they compare to our favorite stories and concerts:
Sinfini Music was very deliberate in highlighting the achievements that women have made in the UK in the past year – including the appointment of Xian Zhang, the first woman to have a titled role at a BBC Orchestra, Jessy McCabe, who successfully petitioned Edexcel to include works by women in their A Level Music curriculum, and Tansy Davies premiered a new opera, Between Worlds.
From The Guardian, Andrew Clements’ top 10 concerts included Tansey Davies Re-Greening, a new commission by the Nation Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (read the original review here). Tim Ashley included an exciting production we missed – the revival of Francesca Caccini’s La Liberation di Ruggiero done by the Brighton Early Music Festival (original review is here). However, no works by women appeared in Tom Service’s, Fiona Maddocks’, or George Hall’s list.
NPR’s list of top 10 classical albums for 2015 includes Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s In the Light of Air, featuring the International Contemporary Ensemble.
Thorvaldsdottir was also featured in Alex Ross’s annual year in review at The New Yorker, with mentions in the Performance category (“In the Light of Air” at the Ojai Festival) and in Recordings (“In the Light of Air” as recorded by the International Contemporary Ensemble). Ross also took note of Laurie Anderson’s installation at the Park Avenue Armory, and recordings of works by Rebecca Saunders, Liza Lim, Helena Tulve, and Paula Matthusen. Read more here.
It was disappointing to see that no works by women were included in Fred Plotkin’s list at WQXR’s Operavore blog acknowledging the new operas that premiered in 2015. There was no mention of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain, the first fully staged performance of Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers, or Tansy Davies’ Between Worlds.
As we move on from 2015 we can reflect on and be glad for the dozens of great concerts, new opportunities for women as conductors and performers, and greater attention being generally brought to the work of women in music – as well as to look ahead for more excellent programming in the year to come!