Last week I published a run-down of the shortlist for next year’s Gaudeamus Prize. Shortly after posting, comments began appearing on Twitter about the shortage of female representation in this list (2 out of 13). Thea Derks (@tdrks) was particularly concerned:
@moderncomp And again: only 2 of the 13 nominees are female…. Sigh… I thought we were living in the 21st century?
— Thea Derks (@tdrks) October 26, 2012
She went on to ask Gaudeamus directly how many women composers there were among the original scores submitted, and therefore get an idea of how representative this shortlist was of the gender make-up of composers who were engaged with the Gaudeamus prize.
Well, the staff of Gaudeamus Muziekweek (@muziekweek) are to be thanked for their efforts. Over the last couple of days they have hand counted 220 submissions by 189 composers, and today announced that of these 189 composers, just 36 were women:
— Gaudeamus Muziekweek (@muziekweek) November 2, 2012
And so while 2 out of 13 in the final shortlist may not be great, it is entirely representative of the submissions received, and the judges should be considered blameless for the number of women composers featured.
(Edited to add: Of course – and I had forgotten this – GP is judged blind in any case. So the fact that proportion of shortlisted female composers is roughly the same as proportion of entered composers shouldn’t be a surprise. But still, nice to see the stats working out.)
But this throws up a new set of questions: How representative are these figures of the general population of young composers? (They don’t sound right to me.) And if they aren’t, why aren’t more women entering competitions like this? And what difference does this make to the overall visibility of women composers in the wider new music culture?
Update: Composer Lauren Redhead has posted some interesting preliminary responses to the questions I pose above.