News and music to start your week!

I Care If You Listen featured two women composers last week. First, Pulitzer Prize Winner Du Yun (pictured above) shared a list of listening suggestions – a great way to expand our weekly playlists.  They also spoke with composer and singer Mari Esabel, whose vocal works use texts that address gender identity and immigration, among other topics.  Read her responses to Five Questions here.

While some ensembles have announced the postponement of music making until Fall 2021, others are forging ahead in new ways. Take the Houston Symphony, for example. They livestreamed a performance this past weekend featuring works by Reena Esmail, Florence Price, and Ethel Smyth. Read more about the event in the Houston Press, which presents an innovative solution to music making in the time of Covid 19.

Another organization that is forging ahead in creative ways is Castle of Our Skins – a concert and educational series “dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music.”  Their eighth season, which features poetry readings, music performances, and conversations, is beginning virtual with hopes of returning to in person events in January 2021.  We all have a chance to learn more from Ashleigh Gordon – the co-founder and Artistic/Executive Director – in a digital series at Framingham Library beginning in October where we can expand our knowledge of Black representation in music through zoom sessions.  Find more information below!

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As they continue to guide musicians to do the necessary work in recognizing the white supremacy that dominates in western classical music, New Music Box has a fantastic piece by Adam Marks about why Artist-Driven Change is Exactly What We Need Right Now.  Marks offers easy but important suggestions that all musicians can engage with in order to move forward intentionally.

And, at long last, a survivor’s voice is being trusted.  The experiences that violinist Lara St. John had (35 years ago at the Curtis Institute of Music) of sexual abuse were ignored and brushed away continually.  The experience was corroborated and published in the Philadelphia Inquirer last summer, and just this week recognized as “credible” by the board of trustees at Curtis. NPR has the updated story. Yet this is pretty much “too little, too late,” as St. John first shared her experiences to the Dean of Curtis when she was 15 years old, and her abuser – Jascha Brodsky – died before St. John could experience any validation of her complaints, let alone justice.  As more stories have come to light, with survivors finding courage in the #MeToo movement, the classical world must grapple with the truth of the past and be committed to move forward toward overdue justice.

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