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This, Too, Must Be Heard: 20/21st c. Female Composers with Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra


Hear live audio from this concert here:

Britten, Vaughan Williams, Thomas Adès...British composers whose names you’ve likely heard of, if not heard their actual music. However, what about 20/21st century female composers? UPNYC will present a program of Ethel Smyth, Doreen Carwithen and Dobrinka Tabakova--all US premieres--that highlights the importance and contributions of female compositional voices. 

Ethel Smyth, a suffragette, one-time-convict, and first (and only until 2016) woman to be performed at The Metropolitan Opera, was the bridge between English titans Purcell and Britten. Three Moods of the Sea was one of her final works before she retired from composition due to hearing loss (she would go on to write 12 best-selling books). Smyth’s orchestration was lost to time, but has been reconstructed for string orchestra using her piano-vocal score by Artistic Director Thomas Cunningham. Mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel will sing the evocative text by Arthur Symons. 

Dobrinka Tabakova represents a new generation of English-influenced composers. Originally from Bulgaria, she has now spent the last 26 years in London. Her writing illustrates a grounding in English traditions with an understanding of harmony and pacing all her own, that earned her her first Grammy nomination in 2014. Her Concerto for Violoncello and Strings combines virtuosity, folk-influence and textural mastery into a densely packed three-movement structure. Julian Schwarz joins us as soloist. 

Doreen Carwithen, also known as Mary Alwyn, was a dynamo film and orchestral composer who, despite strong early career success could not convince publishers to take up her works. Her piano concerto is one of a handful of early orchestral compositions before she married composer William Alwyn and stopped composing. With rich textures and driving rhythms, she proves herself a more than worthy heir to Vaughan Williams and Finzi. Thomas Bagwell appears as soloist. 

This concert is underwritten in part by the Elizabeth and Michael Sorel Organization, Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy and the William Alwyn Foundation.

Tickets $20/12 in advance, $25/15 at the door