It’s international women’s day once more. So it’s also time for another Radio Rambler playlist highlighting the best new music written by women. Just like last year, I’ve tried to pick tracks by composers who aren’t so well known, or who write music that is especially original or interesting, or that challenges any preconceptions of what ‘female’ music might be.
About a month ago the debate about why there are so few female composers was reignited by Kerry Andrew in this Guardian article. For my money the short answer is a lack of female role models and teachers. As was noted during that debate (by Aaron Cassidy, I believe), Huddersfield has a higher-than-normal ratio of female to male composers in its music department … and a higher-than-normal ratio of female to male composition students. If we want change, we need to celebrate those great women composers that we do have.
And that means celebrating their diversity too. Singling out only those whose music is approachable and easy on the ear isn’t the answer: that way lies pigeonholing, stereotyping and a new wave of suppression. Also boredom. Challenging the world needs challenging music.
This playlist is my small contribution.
So to it:
Wendy Mae Chambers: Mass for Mass Trombones: Introit
Meredith Monk: Unison
Chaya Czernowin: Winter Songs III (album reviewed here)
Liza Lim: Ochred String
Cathy Berberian: Stripsody
Malin Bang: Alpha Waves (album reviewed here)
Daphne Oram: Four Aspects
Alwynne Pritchard: Matrix
Galina Ustvolskaya: Grand Duet
In-Sun Cho: Klang Aus der Ferne
Rebecca Saunders: Blue and Gray
Pauline Oliveros: Mnemonics III
Sofia Gubaidulina: Fachwerk
Unsuk Chin: Xi
Beth Anderson: Joan
Eliane Radigue: Kailasha
P.S. Another small contribution comes from composer Chris Swithinbank, who has been taking a look at female representation at IRCAM.