Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Seen-Unseen Concert of 2023. Conductors Christopher Wilkins and Damali Willingham. Top r: Undine Smith Moore, Lower-r: Shirley Graham (DuBois)

Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy is happy to announce the five winners of our 2023 Performance Grants:

Professional Ensembles
Boston Landmarks Orchestra
Worthington Chamber Orchestra (Ohio)

Community Ensembles
Seattle Philharmonic
Horizon Ensemble (Boston MA)

Youth Ensemble
Denver Young Artists Orchestra

We received 26 applications for this program, which in its post-pandemic revision, offers five awards of $5,000, with funds dispersed over three years, and programming developed in collaboration with members of the WPA board and staff. All the winning ensembles are leaders in programming that illustrates principles of diversity and inclusion: representing gender diversity, diversity of race and ethnicity, varied backgrounds, varied levels of recognition and popularity, and including music from a range of chronological eras.

More about our winners:

Boston Landmarks Orchestra offers free outdoor concerts throughout the summer, consistently featuring music by women and BIPOC composers. In 2023 this included the monumentally important “Seen-Unseen: The Symphonic Legacy of Black American Women.” Music Director Christopher Wilkins shares the podium with  young guest conductors, and the orchestra offers robust music classes for young people.

Denver Young Artists Orchestra is led by Music Director Wilbur Lin, who is committed to reinvigorating and re-energizing the orchestral tradition. DYAO are committed to diverse programming on every program, as well as to including offbeat selections by well-known composers. The young musicians of the three orchestras of the DYAO Association are excited by their role in pioneering (re)discoveries and righting historic injustices, as well as by the musical excellence of their performances.

Horizon Ensemble, a community orchestra founded in Boston in 2021, programs new and recent music by young composers alongside historic rediscoveries and other adventurous works of the past. All of their concerts stream live, and are available on their YouTube channel. Founder and Music Director Julian Gau creates a welcoming environment, with interactive concerts and “Pay what you want” pricing.

Seattle Philharmonic, a community orchestra, is dedicated to illuminating both hidden historic gems and recent works, with the aim always to present the best possible music, familiar and unfamiliar. For instance Music Director Adam Stern has championed composer Ruth Gipps (1921–1999), giving US premieres of several of her works, and a recent concert included the violin concerto by Serbian Isidora Žebeljan, her final work before her death at age 54 in 2020.

Worthington Chamber Orchestra (with Music Director Dr. Antoine T. Clark) places a mission-based emphasis on supporting unjustly neglected and overlooked repertoire, in addition to programming new works, for instance by Jessie Montgomery and Korine Fujiwara, and the US premiere of a work by composer Ljubica Marić (1909-2003). The orchestra engages with the community  through a range of educational initiatives.

We look forward to collaborating with these five orchestras and letting others know about their innovative and insightful approaches to creating an orchestral tradition that reflects the true diversity of human experience.

Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy was founded in 2008 to demand equity for women composers and celebrate the legacy of The Women’s Philharmonic (1980-2004).  We began our Grant Program in 2012, and initially gave small grants to encourage the performance of works by women composers.  Following a pandemic-era hiatus, we resumed the program in 2022 with a small number of larger grants, given to highlight ensembles who are programming of music by women and other marginalized groups as a cornerstone of their work to make the classical tradition more welcoming and inclusive, counteracting the past practices of sexism and racism.