What better way to kick off Women’s History Month than a festival of work by women composers? The Women Composers Festival of Hartford will hold their annual event this weekend (March 1 & March 2, 2024) on the campus of Central Connecticut State University. Each year WCFH brings together musicians, composers, scholars, and music enthusiasts to share knowledge and music from both well known and neglected composers throughout history. A particular highlight is listening to the featured concert by the Ensemble-in-Residence – this year Balance Campaign – as well as performances of works by and conversations with the Composer-in-Residence – Kirsten Volness. 

Photograph of the members of the sextet Balance CampaignAs stated on their website, Balance Campaign is:

a contemporary classical sextet that believes in relevant programming and thoughtful collaboration as a powerful force for change towards equal representation in new music.  A laboratory of sound and experimentation, they collaborate with musical voices that are too frequently undervalued or excluded from the classical canon to create programs of diverse musical stories.

The untraditional sextet includes piano, percussion, violin, cello, flute, and clarinet. The ensemble is committed not only to a diverse repertoire, but to educating and inspiring the next generation of performers, offering workshops and opportunities for young composers to have their works heard. 

Kirsten Volness is a quickly rising American composer with international acclaim and seemingly countless accolades. In addition to her impressive list of compositions – many of which are inspired by nature, myth, spirituality, and environmental and sociopolitical issues – Volness is a deeply committed educator and active performer and producer. 

Along with numerous performances, including the always joyful marathon of music by women composers, the Festival hosts a scholarly symposium, where scholars can share their research. As the impetus for the festival is promoting and sustaining the work of women composers, it is only natural that there is also a composition workshop, where preselected composers from across the country, and their works, benefit from the eyes, ears, and expertise of an esteemed mentor – this year, Dr. Jessica Rudman. 

It is particularly notable that WCFH is very intentional in making their festival highly accessible for those with visual, mobility, or hearing impairments. Even better, no matter where you are in the world, you can purchase access to all of the events live streamed for only $10. Access the PDF program and purchase tickets (either in person or for the live stream) here