Nan Washburn, Music Director and Conductor of the National Women’s Music Festival Orchestra

Here’s an update to start your week!

The National Women’s Music Festival begins this week, June 20 to 23rd, 2024 in Madison, WI. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Festival, the NWMF Orchestra presents a program of women’s work in music led by Music Director Nan Washburn. We previously reported on the festival here, the program of the orchestra concert is here.  And to see some of the impressive programming of the Festival  from a previous year, 2022, here are two contrasting examples:

First, the profoundly moving “Remember” by Cara Haxo, the winner of the NWMF Emerging Women Composers Competition (text by Poet Laureate Joy Harjo)

And the mysterious and exotic “Bedouin” from Three Arabian Dances  (1920) by Amanda Aldridge (arr. Nan Washburn)

In other news,

The North American Tour of Barbie the Movie: In Concert™ will kick off on July 2nd. The famed film will be screened above the Barbie Land Sinfonietta as they perform the award-winning score. The tour begins in Tampa, FL and includes events in 37 cities in 25 US states and Toronto, Ontario. The Sinfonietta is “an all-women and majority women-of-color orchestra and production company” founded by conductor and orchestrator Macy Schmidt in 2020. Its flagship orchestras include the Broadway Sinfonietta (New York, and the organization inaugural ensemble) and the Hollywood Sinfonietta (Los Angeles), as well as creative and production arms of the organization that design and promote its projects.

Oboist and Activist Katherine Needleman continues to shake up institutions entrenched in sexist practices, such as her recent Facebook post about the Verbier Festival (in Switzerland).  She draws attention to features such as the all-male cast of piano soloists (14 of them!) and nine all-male conducting “Mentors,” including two with prominent sexual assault charges.

Ravinia’s acclaimed Breaking Barriers festival will take place Wednesday July 24 – Saturday July 27, 2024. The third annual festival will feature a Pavilion concert, panel discussion, roundtables, and a composer workshop. This year’s festival is presented in collaboration with New Music USA, The Chicago Network (TCN), and the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship, some of whose members can be seen performing at other Ravinia summer events. Featured composers during the Breaking Barriers weekend include Amanda Lee Falkenberg and Augusta Read Thomas. The annual festival launched in 2022 with its mission to celebrate and feature women in classical music, particularly in underrepresented areas.

And happy Juneteenth!  We pointed out a few of the concerts going on.

These are just a few highlights of the many opportunities available to hear and see women making great orchestral music. Let us know who and what you’re listening to!  [email protected]