A few news items to start your week!

On June 24th the latest in oboist Kate Rendall’s ongoing quest for justice from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) was reported on social media. Rendall has been appealing to the NZSO to investigate a previous member—her former oboe teacher—on issues of serious sexual misconduct, for the organization to develop clear policies and procedures to investigate sexual harassment in its ranks, and to treat any accusers with respect and empathy. When her efforts to work within institutional procedures bore no fruit, she began working with journalist Zoe George to investigate the orchestra and tell her story. Rendall eventually obtained some NZSO documents pertaining to her issues through the Official Information Act of New Zealand—comparable to filing a Freedom of Information Act request in the United States, Europe, or Britain. For subsequent documentation, the NZSO has been trying to charge her $2215 NZD (approximately $1350 USD, £1067 pounds sterling, or €1256 Euro).

Katherine Needleman, a fellow oboist and tireless advocate for women’s fair treatment and representation in symphony orchestras across the globe, took the cause directly to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in a scathing open letter, readable here. She also opened a GoFundMe on Rendall’s behalf, with any funds exceeding the amount needed for obtaining NZSO documentation to be donated to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The NZSO waived the fee after public pressure, and the entire amount offends raised was donated to RAINN. A sample of some of the communication between Rendall and the NZSO is available via Katherine Needleman’s YouTube channel. This is an ongoing story.

Dr. Samantha Ege, piano
Credit: https://www.samanthaege.com

On July 7th, the music of Undine Smith Moore will be featured on a BBC Radio 3 Broadcast at 19:15 BST. US listeners may be able to catch the program live near lunchtime or early afternoon, depending on the time zone, or else stream it afterward via the BBC iPlayer (free) or other available services.  Musicologist, pianist and longtime enthusiast of Moore’s work Samantha Ege will lead the program.


Undine Smith Moore

Moore was an American composer and teacher who grew up in Virginia during the early twentieth century, and who has highly regarded as both a composer and teacher during her lifetime. She studied at Fisk University and Columbia University Teachers College, and later taught at Virginia State University, Petersburg (an historically black college) where she was instrumental in founding and directing the university’s Black Music Center at the Virginia State Department of Music. The Black Music Center brought leading black composers, musicians, and lecturers to the college. Moore’s style shows mixed influences from her upbringing, training in classical music, and keeping in touch with composers of the Harlem Renaissance. A constant throughout her musical career, and perhaps one reason why so many are enjoying rediscovering her music in 2024, is that she viewed music as a catalyst of progress and social justice, and she encouraged her students to do the same.

The New York Times recently reported on the results of Marlene Brüggen’s efforts to diversify the concerts of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Brüggen is the orchestra’s director of artistic planning, and she got the job based on her vision for concert programming. For the 2023 – 2024 season, the orchestra required that a piece by a women appear on every concert. Though they acknowledge that the programming has a long way to go before it achieves gender parity, the orchestra is proving that the kinds of changes that both musicians and audiences are calling for aren’t just achievable, but achievable in the short time frame of a single season.

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