Hartford Festival Returns, Celebrating Music of Women Composers | Connecticut Public Radio

Hartford Festival Returns, Celebrating Music of Women Composers

Mar 9, 2016

The music of women composers will be featured in several concerts this week. 

The 16th annual Women Composers Festival of Hartford kicks off Thursday with Lift Her Voice, an evening of dance, poetry, and music written by women composers.

Festival President and CEO Penny Brandt says gender bias is an issue for women composers, and that's why this festival is so important.

"In music, there has been this long-standing tradition of composers being the specific dead white men in wigs," Brandt said. "You know: J.S. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. People's idea is that these are composers and that's who you have to be to be a composer, and it's just not true."

Brandt also said musical organizations are more likely to award a commission to a male composer than their female counterpart.

The festival features lectures, workshops, and lots of music by women, including a "music marathon" on Saturday, a symbolic 12-hour event.

"There are all of these musical organizations around the world that will go an entire season without performing a single work by a woman," Brandt said. "For us, the 12 hours stands in as a representative -- that is, a full season of concerts that could have all been music by women composers."

This year's composer-in-residence is Jessica Meyer, a New York-based composer and violist who combines traditional instruments with electronic effects to create what has been described by The New York Times as "beautiful soundscapes of surprisingly varied colors and timbres."

The Women Composers Festival of Hartford gets underway Thursday evening and runs through the weekend.