We are welcoming  composer, pianist and soprano Tamara Cashour  to our blog as our New York City-based correspondent.  Tamara sends her first installment:

In 2020, Juilliard continues to ride the crest of the Zeitgeist by presenting an all-women composer concert series for their annual FOCUS festival, a festival which has typically espoused a single thematic idea, such as 2019’s tribute to International Radio Commissioning, 2017’s Music of Latin America, or the Music of Post-WWII Japan (2015). Going way back in the archive, 2008’s concert was a comprehensive tribute to a single composer–Elliott Carter–in his centennial year.

Those FOCUS series were certainly inclusive of women composers, but, as a big demographic whose time has indeed finally come  in many arenas–from politics to science, to global affairs, medicine, and yes, Art–women are also now making notably salient strides in the concert hall.  We increasingly find the names of more and more women composers among those of their male contemporaries on top-tier concert programs, as well as others. Yet, it has been a struggle to get there, as this years FOCUS series emphasizes — what 20th-century women composers had to fight for, 21st-century women composers are now the beneficiaries of.

2020’s FOCUS pays hommage to (primarily) those women composers who came of age and began composing in the early 20th century, who took up the fight to be heard and known as legitimate concert composers on par with their male counterparts.  Of note:  five of the featured composers are still living and composing!  As this year’s co-curator (the first time Juilliard FOCUS has chosen one) conductor-composer Odaline de la Martinez states:

“We’re making a point about standing up for women composers and recognizing women who fought hard for what we have today.”

Indeed, the 2020 FOCUS series occurs 100 years (more or less) after women’s suffrage achieved the vote in both the US and Britain, and of course, women are still fighting in other areas of the world for basic rights of personhood, equality, justice, and freedom of expression. It is thus fitting that Juilliard acknowledges the achievements of our precursors and predecessors, the sine qua non of 21st-century female compositional achievement, to whom we owe a great debt.

2020 FOCUS takes place over a week, from January 24-31, 2020.  The six concerts feature music by 32 women composers from 15 countries.  The New Juilliard Ensemble opens the series on 1/24 and Juilliard Orchestra plays the final concert on 1/31. Concerts 1/27 through 1/30 feature various chamber ensemble works. (There are no concerts on either Saturday, 1/25 or Sunday 1/26.)  Concerts from the 24th-30th are held at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre (Juilliard main entrance on W. 65th St between Broadway and Amsterdam) and tickets are free and available online.  The concert of 1/31 takes place at Alice Tully Hall; tickets for that concert may be picked up at the Alice Tully Hall box office, located right on the campus of Juilliard @ W 66th and Broadway.  All concerts begin @ 7:30 p.m.  See you there!

More information is available at the following links:

COMPREHENSIVE INFO:  https://www.juilliard.edu/event/140256/focus-2020-trailblazers-pioneering-women-composers-20th-century

PRESS RELEASE:  https://www.juilliard.edu/news/143951/focus-2020-presents-trailblazers-pioneering-women-composers-20th-century-january-24-31

JUILLIARD JOURNAL ARTICLE:  https://www.juilliard.edu/news/144766/trailblazers-celebrating-women-composers-focus-2020

PROGRAM:  https://www.juilliard.edu/sites/default/files/focus_atrium_card.pdf

Juilliard School of Music

Juilliard School of Music

PROGRAM NOTES:  https://www.juilliard.edu/sites/default/files/1.24-31_focus_2020.pdf




Thank you to Gloria Gottschalk, Media Relations Manager @ Juilliard School, and Susan Jackson of The Juilliard Journal for their assistance in obtaining information about the 2020 FOCUS Series!