News and music to start your week!

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with (L to R) Emily Fons (mezzo), Jennifer Higdon (composer), Miguel Harth-Bedoya (conductor), RBG, Isabel Leonard (mezzo), Gene Scheer (librettist), after a performance of the opera Cold Mountain, at Santa Fe Opera in 2015.

We are mourning the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – one of the greatest legal minds and champions for equality in American history.  Let us remember her life and work, and recommit to carry on in the fight for equality and democracy in her honor.  We can recall her passion for opera, and also note some of the musical tributes that have been composed in her honor.  In the picture above she is seen with composer Jennifer Higdon, after a performance of the opera Cold Mountain.  Here, RBG’s well-known love of opera coincided with her advocacy for women, in her support of this monumental new work about a crucial time in American history.

Ginsburg has also been celebrated in music: in 2019, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music commissioned and premiered When There Are Nine, by composer Kristin Kuster, setting poems by Megan Levad, celebrating Ginsburg’s life and the pivotal civil rights issues that she has faced. You can listen to the entire performance of this thrilling premiere, with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, and vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth.

A 2018 discussion with Ginsburg is heard in this Podcast (at Glissando: Classical Music is for Everyone).  RBG talks about her love for the opera and about friends and family that have been part of her story. From there we learned about the CD in tribute to Ginsburg, Notorious RBG in Song, featuring the song-cycle THE LONG VIEW, which illuminates Ginsburg’s personal  life through her letters, remembrances, and even Court opinions. It is composed (and sung) by soprano Patrice Michaels.  Also on the album is Stacy Garrop’s moving “My Dearest Ruth,” setting the letter the Justice’s husband, Martin Ginsburg, wrote before his death in 2010. And enjoy an aria from Derrick Wang’s opera Scalia/Ginsburg! The CD is a product of the award-winning Cedille Records.

The New Yorker  music critic Alex Ross discusses white supremacy in classical music, considering the  the many conversations that have been underway this spring and summer.  He also includes discussion of Rae Linda Brown’s vital biography of Florence Price, The Heart of a Woman.

The Koan Quartet has released the premiere recording of Johanna Beyer’s String Quartet IV.  Read a review of the new recording, and learn more about Beyer’s life and largely forgotten legacy as an experimental composer, in an article from Sequenza 21, where you can also learn how to download the recording via Bandcamp.

Learn more about historic and contemporary women composers in a free six week online course called Musical Herstory, offered by composer Kendra Harder.  The course is presented by the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, and the weekly one hour classes will be held over zoom.  The first class was held on Sept. 17, but there are five more to follow.

NewMusicBox explores how audition requirements inherently exclude, by insisting that students applying to graduate programs are familiar with a set repertoire that excludes works by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color).  Read on to learn more about the inherent problem, and possible solutions – including means of making the “standard” repertoire more inclusive.

What did we miss?  What are you reading or listening to?  Let us know at [email protected]!