Gold Coast Chamber Players announce special concert featuring women composers throughout history

The Gold Coast Chamber Payers will present a pilot for what is envisioned as a potential ongoing project. “Threads” is a concert scheduled for March 5, 2017 at 3PM at the Lafayette Library Community Hall, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., which will feature the music of women composers from throughout music history, with an emphasis on those women composers who made groundbreaking advancements that opened doors for others. The concert will be previewed in Palo Alto on March 4, 2017 at 7:30PM at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Ave.

 The concept for the project is inspired by the recent death of Susan Groag Bell, a feminist leader and former scholar at The Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. Ms. Groag Bell, a family friend of GCCP Artistic Director Pamela Freund-Striplen, was an important historian in women’s studies and an advocate for gender equality. “Threads” will bring the issue of gender equality onto the concert stage, presenting music by women who have left a major imprint on their time in history.

 hile we take for granted today that women have careers in the arts, for centuries women were regularly barred from a professional role in music (with the exception of being opera singers) and most other art forms. Many women of immense talent were relegated exclusively to the role of performing as amateurs for the enjoyment of family and friends. The concept of a woman being a professional pianist or violinist was beyond acceptability.

Threads” focuses on the music of women who have forged important roles in the field of music, at times having to break through the societal prejudices and perceptions of the “appropriate role” for women. Composers whose works will be presented on the 2017 “Threads” concert include:

 

·        Hildegard von Bingen - one of the most productive writers of the Medieval era, literary and musical, and the first woman composer whose name is known. Selections of Hildegard’s music will be arranged for voice and viola.

 

·        Clara Schumann – the first woman to have a major career as a concert pianist in the 19th century; due to the fact that she was also a mother to eight children, she eventually abandoned her work as a composer. Romance for violin & piano (1853)

 

·        Geraldine Mucha – a Scottish composer who left London in 1945 to move to Prague with her Czech husband, and remained there for the rest of her life. “For Erika” for viola and piano (American premier).

 

·        Amy Beach - first successful female American composer of large scale art music. Piano Quintet in F# minor (1909).

 

·        Nadia Boulangerfirst woman to conduct many major orchestras in America and Europe, taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century. Three Pieces for Cello and Piano (1915).

 

·        Lili Boulanger - child prodigy composer (and younger sister of Nadia) who was the first woman to win the Paris Conservatory’s Prix de Rome award. Premature death in 1918 at the age of 24. Two Pieces for Violin and Piano (1911 & 1914).

 

·        Thea Musgrave- Scottish-American composer, considered to be one of the most prominent opera composers of the 20th century. Songs for Contralto and Piano.

 

·        Jennifer Higdon- prominent American composer, one of the most performed composers working today, and only the fourth woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Piano Trio (2003)

 

Violinists Livia Sohn and Rebecca Jackson, violist Pamela Freund-Striplen, cellist Ani Aznovoorian, pianist Bernadene Blaha and contralto Karen Clark are featured. Aimed at providing the audience with a descriptive thread, the singer who will perform the music of Hildegard von Bingen will also serve as a narrator throughout the concert.

The Gold Coast Chamber Players are known for their engaging and vibrant performances. Audiences have been responding with such enthusiasm that tickets are in great demand. 

The Lafayette performance on March 5 at 3PM includes complimentary champagne, a pre-concert talk at 2:30 p.m., and a reception with the musicians following the performance.  Tickets are available at www.gcplayers.org and by phone at (925) 283-3728.  Limited seating, please reserve early. 

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