New Philadelphia boss orders up more women composers

New Philadelphia boss orders up more women composers


norman lebrecht

August 16, 2018

Yesterday was Matias Tarnopolsky’s first day in the office as president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Today, this lands:

(Philadelphia, August 16, 2018)—The Philadelphia Orchestra and American Composers Orchestra (ACO) will partner for a one-day showcase on September 6, 2018, during which the Orchestra will rehearse works by six women composers as part of a collaborative working session. The selected composers, all of whom have been commissioned previously through ACO’s programs, will have their works read and recorded by The Philadelphia Orchestra in a rehearsal led by Assistant Conductor Kensho Watanabe at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. In addition, the composers will participate in meetings with Orchestra leadership and roundtable conversations with the Orchestra’s Artistic Committee and mentor composers, and will receive feedback from co-facilitators, ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and native Philadelphian Melinda Wagner….

The six invited composers––selected from the alumnae of ACO’s Underwood, EarShot, and Jazz Composer Orchestra Institute programs––will travel to Philadelphia to work collaboratively with the Orchestra. The composers are Melody Eötvös (pictured, 2014 Underwood New Music Readings), Hilary Purrington (2017 Underwood New Music Readings), Chen-Hui Jen (2012 EarShot Readings San Diego Symphony), Robin Holcomb (2016 Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings Naples Philharmonic), Xi Wang (2010 Underwood New Music Readings); and Nina C. Young (2013 Underwood New Music Readings).

Philly has been notably remiss until now in featuring women composers.


  • boringfileclerk says:

    Still now transgender or non-binary composers being commissioned. And why haven’t they commissioned anyone from Fannett Township

  • Paul Wells says:

    So the new guy organizes a partnership with another orchestra, books the hall three weeks hence, secures the participation of six composers, lines up a conductor, facilitators and mentor composers — all on his first day? Prodigious. Or maybe it was going to happen already, had been in the works for months, and the headline is as farcical as they usually are here.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    There is no reason why women composers should be absent from the repertoire of orchestras. For example, here’s but a tiny list of possibilities for composers whose pieces should be played. Note that, if my previous lists were dominated by Brits, this one will be mostly – but by no mean exclusively – U.S. – centric.

    Amy Beach, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Florence Price, Gloria Coates, Joan La Barbara, Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, Cindy McTee, Tania Leon, Cristina Spinei, Augusta Read Thomas, Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, Joan Tower, Melinda Wagner, Elaine Barkin, Gloria Coates, Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, Jennifer Higdon, Pamela Z, Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, Michelle van der Bb, CC Catch, DD Davis, Vikki Carr, Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, Connie Chung, Connie Chung redux (first time because the lady absolutely can stand on herself. Second time because she also has to stand in for her husband, Maury Povich who is excluded for obvious reasons. Same reasons that unfortunately force us to exclude Chuck Norris, Craig T. Nelson, and Gérard Depardieu – plus he’s French. I mean his name is Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu , for sanity’s sake! When you have nothing to say, you say it in French.)

    The list continues with Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, Kate Mara, Rooney Mara, Looney Mara, Salvatrucha Mara, Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, the Kardashians, the Bachelorettes, the Dance Moms, the Soccer Moms, the Hockey Moms, the Chemtrail Moms, the Missy Mazzoli Moms (I suppose that’s only one of those), the rest of the moms and daughters or no moms at all (I guess this covers just about everybody), Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, Rory Macdonald (oops, wrong list, never mind sorry!), the singing Johns with rhyming names: Tomlinson, Mitchinson, Robertson, Lawrenson, Dobson, Cameron, etc. (what’s going on here? I am starting to confuse names. Stop this insanity!).

    And we end with Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, Larry David, Missy Mazzoli, and anybody who can do the splits.


  • Bruce says:

    Wow. Posts like this really seem to bring the crazies out of the woodwork.

  • barry guerrero says:

    Not to say anything against women composers, but . . . there already exists a TON of really good orchestral compositions – written by males (whether that was a conspiracy or not, is now nearly irrelevant) – that almost never get performed.

    Let’s just a pull a few names out of a hat: when’s the last time your local orchestra played a work by Koechlin? Kurt Atterberg? Aulis Sallinen (not to be confused with Esa-Pekka Salonen)?, Honneger? Henri Sauguet? a Milhaud symphony (and not just “La Creation du Monde”) etc. These are all good people who seldom or never get played. There are hundreds of them.

  • Conducting Feminista says:

    This is a sign that women are completely taking over everything in this world and men are being pushed to the wayside, just as God herself intended.

  • SVM says:

    Subtext in the above statement: women are second-rate, so they can be fobbed-off with some mentoring (unlike men, women need a “mentor”, apparently), assistant conductors, and a special scheme that does not result in a public performance, rather than being incorporated into the season proper as proper composers worthy of standing alongside their male colleagues.
    Meanwhile, most of the younger generations of living male composers (who are not responsible for the imbalances of earlier generations) are getting even fewer opportunities to work with orchestras than the younger generations of living female composers.

    Finally, has the concept of artistic merit been abandoned? If a work deserves to be heard, it should be programmed for its own sake, irrespective of the sex or gender of its composer. And, by the way, Philly has managed to promote works by female composers before *on merit*: back in 1976, the composer Thea Musgrave conducted the orchestra in the USA première of her Concerto for Orchestra as part of a season opening concert.