Boost for women composers in London and Liverpool

Boost for women composers in London and Liverpool


norman lebrecht

June 22, 2017

Work by ‘historic women composers’ are to be performed by four London orchestras in the coming seasons, thanks to a new booster fund. See press release below:

The Association of British Orchestras has announced the first recipients from a new fund, ‘Sirens’, with four awards made to UK orchestras for projects to raise the awareness of historic women composers.

Diana Ambache, whose generosity has made the scheme possible, said:

“The ABO Sirens programme aims to push towards fairness and a richer picture of our musical heritage. Good music is good music, and there’s plenty to enjoy, discover and rediscover with this scheme featuring fascinating and beautiful works by women from our history. This will change our musical appreciation to a much fuller experience.”

The Philharmonia Orchestra will include Maria Antonia Walpurgis’s Sinfonia to Talestri, Queen of the Amazon in their flagship Key Stage 2 concert and engagement project Orchestra Unwrapped. The funding will enable further exploration in schools of the extraordinary achievements of this German aristocrat-musician.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra will celebrate the work of Dame Ethel Smyth during its 2019/20 season.  The virtuosic Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra will introduce the work of this composer, political activist and suffragette, to a new generation.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will perform works by Germaine Tailleferre and Cécile Chaminade in three performances in Liverpool and Preston in 2018, conducted by Jessica Cottis. The project will also include adult learning workshops, work with the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company, including a conducting workshop with Cottis and composition workshops with female composers.

Southbank Sinfonia and conductor Rebecca Miller will celebrate Dorothy Howell, whose exhilarating music Henry Wood championed at the Proms, but was then lost to obscurity.  Selected pieces will be heard again in an open workshop in Autumn 2018 and consequent Spring 2019 concert, facilitated by access to a new family archive.

SIRENS The ABO Trust received a generous gift from Diana Ambache in 2016 to run a new fund, Sirens, which aims to raise awareness and appreciation of the music written by historical women from around the world. Annual grants will be allocated according to the range and value of each project. Each year over 10 years up to £19,000 will be shared between 4 to 5 projects for concerts, tours, recordings and education work deemed to be doing most to advance and promote the understanding of music by women.



  • SPR says:

    The concerts in Liverpool and Preston will be in March 2019 (not 2018) – just a typo in the release.

  • Gideon Flusser says:

    In addition, The opera Mamzer – Bastard by the Israeli composer Na’ama Zisser is scheduled for June 2018. Another woman composer!