Canadian composer Laura Pettigrew is internationally recognized for her compositions – which include works for voice, large ensemble, chamber ensembles, and film. Pettigrew is also actively involved several organizations working for equal representation for women’s work in music. From her biography:
As a woman composer Laura is an avid supporter of the Adkins Chiti Foundation, Donne in Musica (Women in Music), member of Association of Canadian Women Composers, Canadian Music Centre, Canadian League of Composers and International Women’s Brass Conference promoting and encouraging composers and musicians to ensure equality prevails for women and men alike.
She was recently also interviewed by the Regina The Star-Phoenix about her work and experiences having her works performed in Canada and Europe, her work just being performed as part of an International Women’s Day celebration in Italy.
Pettigrew spoke openly about her experiences as a woman working in music, as well as the work she is doing to correct the problems she sees:
Ironically, even though her work is celebrated in Europe, Pettigrew struggles to have her works played in Canada.
“Women’s works are not being performed,” she said.
Pettigrew said she was thrilled to have her Legend of Draco premièred by Regina Symphony Orchestra to an appreciative audience last October. But she noted as she leafed through the brochure showcasing the RSO’s 2015-2016 season, that “the entire season is men … And that happens right across the country.”
“There’s huge gender discrimination,” she said. “This is the 21st century; something has got to change.”
The works of women composers should be showcased based on merit, Pettigrew said, “because they are talented, not just because they are women.
“But great talent is not enough.” she said sadly.
When it comes to who receives grants and sponsorships, Pettigrew said she would like to see the process changed, so funding is awarded based on merit, not influenced by gender or an individual’s popularity. “Everything needs to be anonymous. That’s the only way it will be fair.”
Pettigrew is working to help raise awareness about Canada’s women composers. As a resident scholar for the Adkins Chiti Foundation, she collected and compiled data on Canadian composers.
“There’s a lot of talent in Canada … I would like to see women’s works valued and performed.”