Women's Work Concert Series in NYC

Allan Kozinn, from The New York Times, recently reviewed a concert performed in conjunction with the sixth annual Women’s Work concert series presented at the Greenwich House Music School.

The March 18th concert featured piano music performed by Jenny Lin, who chose an international array of works. The composers heard included Rozalie Hirs, from Amsterdam, Gabriela Ortiz, of Mexico, Tzu-Ling Sarana Chou, of Taiwan, and American composers Laura Kaminsky, Laura Schwedinger, Missy Mazzoli and Julia Wolf.

The relatively short review provided some insight to the thematic and harmonic structure of the works, but did not provide much commentary either to Lin’s performance or the merits of the works themselves, except for occasional references to the similarities that can be heard in the more modern works and members of the dead, white, male, canon. Kozinn did (oh so briefly) recognize the increasing number of composition students and of works by women being heard in concert halls throughout the United States. Of the works heard on the March 18th concert, Kozinn also acknowledged

“That they are written by women is the least notable thing about them, and that, in a way, is a measure of the progress women have made in recent decades.”

Though I cannot disagree with the progress that is continually being made and absolutely appreciate Kozinn’s inclination to not categorize women’s works separately, I have to feel disappointed by the gross assumptions that made it into the article’s headline: “Composers of One Sex but Numerous Styles.” I mean, really!! The problematic nature of this could be discussed at great length, and is reminiscent of the classification of “Lady Composers” that were still a part of musical dialogue until only several decades ago. One would think that a more appropriate headline, perhaps including the acknowledgement of Women’s History Month or this very successful series, wouldn’t have been that difficult to put together.

Another concert in the Women’s Work Concert series will be presented on March 25th at the Renee Weiler Concert Hall (46 Barrow St., NYC), entitled Female Persuasion.  The works performed will be representative of modern and historic composers and include: Lenore Von Stein’s “Why Michelle” and “in the absence of”; Tui St. George Tucker’s “December”; Anne Tardoes’s “Uxudo Songs”; Beth Anderson’s “Dark Songs”; an aria from Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre’s “Cepahle et Procris”; and Cecile Chaminade’s “Portrait: Valese Chantee”.