ABSTRACTS FOR GENDER AND MUSICIANSHIP STUDY DAYS, JANUARY 25 2022
Santos Melgarejo, Adriana, Mendos Lluberas, Patricia and Sepúlveda Aceves, Gabriela
Fabricación, Aserradero and Fundición: Reactivating the compositions of Carmen Barradas (1888–1963)
In this short-lecture concert we explore the compositions of Uruguayan pianist Carmen Barradas (1888–1963) to bring visibility to her contributions to avant-garde and experimental music. Employing research-creation methodologies and bringing together our experities as media historians, musicologists and interpreters we discuss the historical context and the gendered structures that led to the invisibilization of her work. Specifically, we use reactivation, understood by Mónica Mayer and Karen Cordero) as a feminist approach to re-engage with archives that have been ignored in the dominanrt histories of art through intergenerational gatherings, curatorial projects, and exhibitions (2005, 2020). In this case, we build from Mayer and Cordero’s approach and combine archival research with musical analysis and interpretation to reactivate a selection of Carmen Barrada’s compositions for piano. Our process of reactivation begins with a brief overview of Barrada’s cultural milieu to locate her as a meaningful exponent of the avant-gardes followed with an interpretation of a selection of compositions for piano accompanied with musical analysis to introduce Barrada’s techniques to contemporary audiences.
Born in Montevideo to a family of Spanish immigrants, like many other female artists, Carmen Barradas is mostly known as the sister of the avant-garde painter Rafael Barradas (1890–1929) and not as an artist in her own right. Between 1915 and 1926, Carmen lived in Madrid and Barcelona along with Rafael and her younger brother the ultraist poet Antonio de Ignacios, where the three of them became actively involved in the intellectual and artistic milieus of both metropolis. During her stay in Spain, Carmen was influenced by avant-garde artists and the heterogeneous nucleus of intellectuals of the Generation of ’27. In her work she made direct references to the musical currents that were brewing at the beginning of the twentieth century including futurism and experiments with prepared piano techniques. She also developed a unique style of graphic notation, making her one of the earliest exponents in this field. Through our lecture-concert we hope to contribute with current efforts to disseminate her work and recover her meaningful contributions to the histories of experimental and avant-garde music and notation.
Keywords: Barradas, avant-garde music, Uruguay
Adriana Santos Melgarejo is a Musicologist with a master’s degree in Information and Communication from Universidad de la República. Based in Uruguay, she has been researching Carmen Barradas’ work for more than a decade. Currently she is producing a recording of Barradas’ work.
Particia Mendoza Lluberas is an uruguayan classical pianist specialized in vocal accompaniment. She holds degrees in Musical Interpretation (Piano) from the Musical Interpretation Technique at Universidad de la República, Uruguay, and a master’s degree in Interpretive Practices from the Postgraduate Program in Music at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Dr. Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda is a media artist and scholar. She is currently associate professor at Simon Fraser University, Canada and director of cMAS, a research-creation studio focusing on historical research and media art production. She is the author of the award-winning book “Women Made Visible: Feminist Art and Media in post-1968 Mexico” (2019).
Biography: Markus Virtanen is a doctoral researcher in the University of Arts, Helsinki, and a composer and music journalist. In his doctoral project titled Säveltävänä naisena maailmassa: säveltäjä Ann-Elise Hannikainen aikakautensa peilinä, Virtanen examines the world of Finnish classical music as well as its values and ideals from the perspective of Ann-Elise Hannikainen’s career as a composer.
Keynote: Anna Bull
Is classical music education a ‘conducive context’ for sexual harassment and misconduct?
In this talk I will ask whether and how classical music education constitutes a ‘conducive context’ for sexual harassment and misconduct. Liz Kelly has theorised a conducive context as a site where ‘institutionalised power and authority […] creates a sense of entitlement, to which there [is], limited external challenge’. She further argues that in ‘conducive contexts’, ‘institutionalised gendered power relations can also be identified […] where men’s status and authority, rather than inducing an ethic of care, can be used by abusive men to intimidate and silence’. Drawing on my own and others’ research into classical music’s institutions, cultures and education settings, I will explore the ways in which the ‘conducive context’ manifests in classical music education and outline challenges and ways forward for institutions in addressing this issue.
Biography: Dr Anna Bull is a Lecturer in Education and Social Justice at the University of York, and a founder and director of The 1752 Group, a research and campaign organisation addressing staff sexual misconduct in higher education. She is currently Principle Investigator on the ESRC-funded research project ‘Examining Institutional Responses to Sexual Misconduct: Higher Education After #MeToo’. Her research interests include class and gender inequalities in classical music education; and staff sexual misconduct in higher education. Her monograph Class, Control, and Classical Music was published in 2019 with Oxford University Press and in 2020 was joint winner of the British Sociological Association Philip Abrams Award.
Femininity, Power, and the Framing of Amy Winehouse’s Career
Despite releasing only a small body of work in her short lifetime, Amy Winehouse’s influence casts a long shadow over the music industry. Yet there is a contradiction at the heart of discourse surrounding her: whilst she is widely admired for her soulful vocals and witty, insightful song-writing, she is frequently presented as a tragic figure, variously addicted to alcohol, drugs, and bad men, and succumbing to an early death.
The sonic qualities of the voice are treated as a wellspring of meaning by audiences, who often believe that the voice expresses something essential of the singer. I draw on Emily J. Lordi’s work on the links between Billie Holiday’s vocal timbre and commentary on her biography1 by examining newspaper articles from across Winehouse’s posthumous career to demonstrate how commentators have perceived her vocal timbre as inextricably tied up with her personal troubles. A common theme in retrospective examinations of Winehouse’s life is the perception of her voice as an audible manifestation of internal struggle.
The framing of this is frequently reductive, positioning Winehouse’s timbral expression as a passive quality rather than one requiring talent and skill. Crucially, it presents her as having little power over the trajectory of her life or her musicianship. This seems to serve ideological ends. During her lifetime, she was regularly vilified for transgressing the boundaries of idealised femininity. I argue that by taking the sound of her voice as evidence of innate vulnerability or sadness, these sources remove her agency in order to rationalise her “unfeminine” behaviours.
 Emily J. Lordi, Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013), 141.
Keywords: Power, femininity, posthumous fame, timbre, Amy Winehouse
Biography: Alice Masterson graduated from an MA in Music (University of York, 2018) with distinction. She is currently in the third year of a PhD supervised by Dr Áine Sheil (Music) and Professor David Beer (Sociology) at the University of York, where she holds a Sir Jack Lyons Research Scholarship and in 2021 was awarded a Humanities Research Centre Doctoral Fellowship. Her thesis explores the posthumous legacies of female musicians who were vilified for their lifestyles while living, particularly the ways in which they seem to find public ‘redemption’ through death.
“You Are Just So Used To Tolerate Anything” – Gendered and Sexual Misconduct, and Abuse of Power in the Classical Music Scene in Finland
This paper, based on interviews with fourteen Finnish white ciswomen professional musicians, offers an in-depth reading on how social fabrics and condition create predispositions for abuse of power, and gendered and sexual harassment. I ask how understandings of gender and sexuality, traditional hierarchies, and common practices of classical music allow for gendered and sexual misconduct, and abuse of power. With gendered and sexual misconduct, I refer to a wide range of behaviour that the participants of this study reported. This includes harassment, grooming, sexual coercion, expecting or promising sexual acts for favours, as well as bullying, and unwelcomed comments that are referring to the person’s gender, such as generalized sexist statements. With abuse of power I refer to emotional abuse such as belittling, humiliation, intentional denial of attention, harsh and cruel comments, and setting up for failure. To understand underlying inequality, I analyze the beliefs and social surroundings of sexual misconduct through the notion of ‘imaginaries’, as defined by feminist philosopher Moira Gatens (2003 , 2004; Churcher & Gatens 2019). I use the notion to examine how beliefs about gender and sexuality, power hierarchies, representations, metaphors, and images are represented in the experiences of sexual misconduct, and abuse of power in this research material. By drawing upon Jennifer S. Hirsch and Shamus Khan’s (2021 ) understanding of power I analyse how power is distributed through associated imaginaries and in the socio-cultural conditions, such as social spaces specific to classical music practice. I argue that certain prevailing imaginaries, portray women as being sexually available to authoritative men and facilitate to normalize of gendered and sexual misconduct, as well as abuse of power.
Keywords: classical music, sexual harassment, gendered harassment, abuse of power, imaginaries, power hierarchies
Biography: Anna Ramstedt (M.Mus. and M.A.) is a pianist, piano teacher and PhD student in Musicology in the University of Helsinki, Finland. In her multidisciplinary dissertation she focuses on inequality, whiteness, and gendered and sexual misconduct within the classical music scene in Finland. The academic years 2020–2022 she is spending as a visiting PhD Student in University of Utrecht (NL), participating especially in courses arranged by the The Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies.
Remoulding the Musical Museum: The Call for Social Justice and The Helsinki Philharmonic’s Response to Demands for Gender Equality
Symphony orchestras face mounting expectations as to their role in society, especially with respect to issues of social justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and gender equality. How do orchestras deal with changing expectations and claims of inequality in their repertoire? The focus of this presentation is my ongoing fieldwork relating to the Helsinki Philharmonic’s equality project The Forgotten Histories of Finnish Orchestral Music HUOM, launched in 2021, with an articulated ambition to revive historical female composers and rehabilitate their works on concert programmes. Borrowing concepts from the scholarly literature on museums and their role in society, this paper discusses the Helsinki Philharmonic’s institutional response to calls for a more balanced repertoire, and the chosen form of collaboration with feminist activist musicologists. I suggest that the focus and scope of the project may foster increased awareness about Finnish historical female composers nationally and internationally, suggesting a positive long-term impact on concert programmes in terms of gender equality, although the immediate effects on the orchestra’s own concert programmes are limited. The presentation is offered as a working paper, inviting comments, help and ideas from colleagues for developing thoughts further.
Biography: Musician and music theorist by training, Wilhelm Kvist began his career as music journalist and critic whilst studying at the Sibelius Academy. At the time of graduating, he was called to work as staff journalist and editor of music at the main Swedish-language daily newspaper in Finland, Hufvudstadsbladet. In 2020, he was awarded the foremost prize for Swedish-speaking journalists in Finland, the Topelius Prize, following his article series on the gender breakdown in concert programmes presented by symphony orchestras in the Helsinki region, igniting a fiery debate. Currently on study leave, Kvist researches the Helsinki Philharmonic’s ongoing equality project History’s Unheard Orchestral Music as a part of his forthcoming doctoral dissertation on gender inequality in orchestral concert programming under the supervision of Professor Susanna Välimäki at University of Helsinki. Currently, he enjoys a grant by the Swedish Cultural Foundation.
Gender, Hierarchy and Power in 19th-Century Music Education: The Conservatories of Brussels and Paris
In the 19th century, the institutionalization of the worlds of music and music education was marked by the emergence of numerous conservatories across Europe. Some of them – Paris, Brussels, London, etc. – were even open to students of both sexes, in order to meet the demands of the stage and of teaching, thus becoming some of the first institutions of higher education open to women. Yet this gathering of male and female teachers and students in one place was accompanied by a concentration of power relations and hierarchical systems based on gender. In this presentation, I propose to look at the influence of gender on the power relations and hierarchies – both real and symbolic – that are fostered? within these institutions. I will focus on the case of the Brussels Conservatory, using some further examples from its Parisian model.
First, I will consider how gender affected teachers’ position within the hierarchical organization of the faculty and their options for professional development. These considerations will be linked to questions of prestige depending on the gender of the teacher and of their students, within a system in which male and female education were kept distinct. Lastly, I’ll examine more personal relations of power unfolding between male professors and their younger female students.
Keywords: Music education, women, inequalities, institutions, power
Biography: Fauve Bougard is a PhD candidate in musicology at the Université libre de Bruxelles (Laboratoire de Musicologie). After completing a master’s thesis (2018) on Belgian composer Juliette Folville, she is now pursuing her interest in the history of women in music through doctoral research on women’s musical education at the conservatories of Brussels and Paris during the nineteenth century. Her project has been kindly funded by a Seed Money grant (ULB, 2019–20) and, since October 2020, by an ‘Aspirant’ grant from the Fonds national de recherche scientifique (FNRS).
Treacy, Danielle and Westerlund, Heidi
Gender exclusion and multicultural discourse: Activism through public pedagogy in Nepali music education
The multicultural discourse permeating the fields of music and music education categorises diverse musical practices based on ethnicity and geographical location, and guides teaching practices and curricula to adhere to the norms, principles and values of the ‘musical mappa mundi’ as authentically as possible. This dominant discourse takes for granted that all musical traditions are fundamentally good, thus ignoring their often deeply-rooted exclusionary mechanisms, such as gender exclusion. It is therefore unable to provide tools for teachers to counter social inequalities and the unwanted consequences of musical practices.
Based on our research on intercultural music teacher education in the Global Visions project, in this presentation we will share examples from Nepal of activist strategies aimed at including women and girls in music practices and transforming society at large. Using these examples, we will highlight how change needs to be thought of in terms of systems (Meadows 2009). The examples underscore, for instance, the significant role of male musicians and families in the process of changing social structures in musical traditions, and how musical performance can be seen to ritualise change and be used strategically as public pedagogy where education and politics intersect. Overall, the presentation will argue that multicultural discourse is based on a romanticized view of ancient traditions and what Zygmunt Bauman called retrotopia. Instead, practices in music and music education could be understood in the nexus of various societal processes that both sustain exclusion and promote inclusion, depending on how musicians and music teachers understand their role as change agents.
Biographies: Danielle Shannon Treacy is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the project Music Education, Professionalism, and Eco-Politics at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on the ethical and methodological deliberations involved in intercultural music teacher education policy, practice, and research, and collaborative learning and reflective practice in higher arts education. She has published peer-reviewed international journal articles and book chapters, and is co-editor of the journal Nordic Research in Music Education. She currently teaches at the Sibelius Academy in the Doctoral School of Music Education, Jazz and Folk Music and the Global Music Department.
Heidi Westerlund is a professor at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland. She has published widely in international journals and books and her research interests include higher arts education, music teacher education, collaborative learning, cultural diversity and democracy in music education. She is the co-editor of for instance Collaborative learning in higher music education (2013, Ashgate) and Expanding Professionalism in Music and Higher Music Education–A Changing Game (2021, Routledge) and she is the PI of Music Education, Professionalism, and Eco-Politics (EcoPolitics, 2021–2025) and the Co-PI in Music for social impact: practitioners’ contexts, work, and beliefs (2020–2022).
Composing canons? Examining the professional habitus and mechanisms of exclusion in composition pedagogy
The teaching of classical music composition takes place in relation to tradition, and a central part of the teaching is the analysis and imitation of musical styles and composers. In the composition studies at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki this historical imitation takes place within the compulsory courses called satsioppi (Harmony, Counterpoint, and Stylistic Composition). Satsioppi is studied for several years with the aim of providing students an understanding of “the complexities of historical styles” and helping them to “explore and develop their creative abilities within the framework of well-defined stylistic contexts” (Uniarts 2021). The satsioppi studies can thus be viewed to have a central role in contributing to the students’ musical expertise and professional identities.
This presentation explores composition pedagogy in the framework of professionalism and the
professional habitus. The presentation is based on a recent case study I conducted with Riikka Talvitie among composition pedagogy students. In the study we examine the meanings the students give to satsioppi in terms of their studies and careers as composers. By using the concept of habitus (Bourdieu 1977), we study the ways in which expert knowledge and skills as well as socially ingrained values, norms, and dispositions are embodied and reproduced in and through the satsioppi studies.
Drawing on the results, I discuss the intricate relations between the composition pedagogy based on imitation and the formation of canon in classical music. I emphasize the importance of understanding the choices of styles and composers to be imitated as political acts “with far reaching consequences for concerns like equity and social justice” (Bowman 2007). Understanding musical exclusions not only as a matter of aesthetic, but also sociopolitical and pedagogical significance further highlights the crucial role of composition pedagogy in revealing and critically examining hidden norms and systematically advancing diversity and social justice.
- Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge University Press.
- Bowman, W. (2007) “Who is the “We”? Rethinking Professionalism in Music Education” Action,
- Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 6(4): 109–131.
- Uniarts (2021). Harmony, Counterpoint, and Stylistic Composition.
Keywords: canons, composition pedagogy, gender equality, professional habitus, social justice
Biography: Heidi Partti works as Professor of Music Education at the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki in Finland. Her research interests are initiated by a need to better understand the surrounding world to help the music education profession understand and response to the rapid changes and global challenges. Heidi’s articles on topics such as music-related learning communities, digital technology, composition pedagogy, and the development of intercultural competencies in music teacher education have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and edited anthologies. She is passionate about questions related to equality, ethics, and socio-ecological justice, and has recently led the Yhdenvertaisesti säveltäen (Equity in Composing) project along with the composer Riikka Talvitie.
Composer Betzy Holmberg Deis (1860–1900): Feminist historical and biographical study
In this paper, I will discuss the life and career of the composer Betzy Holmberg Deis (1860–1900). Holmberg Deis is one of the many Nordic late- or new-romantic women composers, who succeeded to construct a noteworthy career in the 19th Century male-dominated and gender-prejudiced field of composing concert music. Born in Germany to a Norwegian-born mother and a Finnish father, educated in Norway, Denmark and Germany, and pursuing a career in Central-Europe, Holmberg Deis lived a cosmopolitan and transnational life, common for many Nordic women composers of the 19th and early 20th Century.
Holmberg Deis focused on orchestral and instrumental chamber music, and her symphony No. 1 (1884) was well received in the press. Yet after Holmberg Deis’s death, her figure and output were completely forgotten and left outside of the music history writing and concert culture. As typical is for many women composers of her time, most of Holmberg Deis’s compositions, as well as biographical literary remains, have disappeared.
In this paper, I will outline a biography of Betzy Holmberg Deis and an overall picture of her as a composer. My aim is to find out what can be known about her life, musical education, career, compositions and their performances and reception during her lifetime. Methodologically the research represents feminist music history and agency biographical research. The research material consists of historical original materials from several archives, mainly in Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Germany.
The purpose of my research is to produce new knowledge on the history of Nordic music by focusing on a women composer, previously omitted from the music history writing. Holmberg Deis’s orchestral works are lost, but three of her chamber music compositions have survived. These represent an original contribution to the Nordic late- and new-romantic repertoire.
Keywords: Betzy Holmberg Deis, music history, women composers, biographical research, feminist music research, Nordic music, 19th Century
Biography: Susanna Välimäki is associate professor of art research and head of discipline in musicology at the University of Helsinki. Välimäki is the author of four books: Subject Strategies in Music: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Musical Signification (2005), Miten sota soi? Sotaelokuva, ääni ja musiikki (How Does a War Sound? War Films, Sound and Music) (2008), Muutoksen musiikki: Pervoja ja ekologisia utopioita audiovisuaalisessa kulttuurissa (Music of Transformation: Queer and Ecological Utopias in Audiovisual Culture) (2015), and Syötävät sävelet: Vieraana säveltäjien pöydissä (Tasty Tones: A Culinary History of Classical Music) (2017). Their current research project deals with Finnish women composers born in the 19th Century. Välimäki also works as a music critic and produces radio and television programmes for Finnish Broadcasting Company. Välimäki is a founding member of the research association Suoni, which develops activist music research.
Revealing the hidden history and legacy of pioneering electronic composer Janet Beat (b. 1937)
The hidden histories and unsung voices of women electronic composers remains marginalised from history and the musical canon. This paper aims to readdress this imbalance by highlighting the concealed history and legacy of early electronic composer Janet Beat (b. 1937). Discussion will explain why Beat should be upheld as a pioneer electronic composer, by underlining her impact on the early field, her pioneering creative practices and key compositions. In addition, this paper will also highlight Beat’s legacy as an early electronic music educator and collaborator. Understanding Beat’s place in the field is a step forward in illuminating female representation, showing the falsehood of the male selected history that has portrayed this musical genre as a male dominated creative practice. This paper will outline the gender discrimination Beat experienced throughout her career, which occurred as acts prohibiting her from creating music due to her gender. Context will be provided on how Beat overcame these gender barriers to continue making and performing music. It has taken until 2021 for Beat to finally have her first ever dedicated release of her electronic compositions on the LP ‘Pioneering Knob Twiddler’, gaining wider recognition as a composer and pioneer of electronic music.
This paper introduces my work to date engaging with the repertoire of Janet Beat, which is part of my PhD study into ‘Exploring homage in electroacoustic music: exposing the hidden histories and work of early women electronic composers in Europe (1940–75)’. Within this study, homage is used as a means to create new compositions to shine a spotlight upon forgotten and marginalised female figures in electronic music between 1940–75. This period is considered the founding period when the first studios and ‘schools’ of electronic music began to appear in Europe, along with the first outputs of musique concrète and electronic music.
Keywords: women in sound, Janet Beat, electronic composition, gender, music making and artistic practice
Biography: Wendy Smith is currently conducting a practice-based PhD at The Open University (UK) supervised by Dr Manuella Blackburn and Dr Sean Williams. This PhD aims to explore the concept of ‘homage’ as a device and approach within compositional practice, specifically to highlight and celebrate the music and output of early women electronic music composers. Wendy’s engagement with the Scottish Music Centre (UK) has facilitated some of Janet Beat’s (an electronic composer) compositions becoming digitalised and added to their online store, enabling a wider audience to listen and perform Beat’s music. Researching women in sound has provided both inspiration and creative focus for the basis of Wendy’s compositional work. Wendy has presented research on women in sound at a number of academic conferences, including the Women in Music Since 1913 Symposium (2015) and the First International Conference on Women’s Work in Music (2017).
Jankowska, Linda and Young, Katherine
Co-composition in boundarymind as a feminist methodology
boundarymind is a long-distance collaboration by Linda Jankowska and Katherine Young. The evening-length electroacoustic sound piece and aggregating multi-media installation explores and transgresses the geographical, cultural, psychological, and musical boundaries that impact how we share—and modulate—our past, present, and future selves through collection and interaction with our material world. Every-day objects with sentimental meaning and memory-evoking power have been shared—recorded and remixed, filmed and animated, collected and woven into a three-dimensional tapestry. When the piece is fully realized—performed and installed for in-person experience—these objects and sounds, weaving by Molly Roth Scranton and film by Kera MacKenzie, will be installed into an immersive space, and audience members will be invited to contribute their own objects-memories-sounds.
We have actively foregrounded collaborative processes that resulted in co-authorship in boundarymind and consider our act of co-composing a feminist methodology. Friendship, ‘tender listening’ (Tokarczuk, 2019), sharing of intimate stories, distributed creativity and social virtuosity became the bedrock of our compositional thinking. Departing from two seemingly separate areas of music creativity – performance and composition – we worked closely together for over eight years, through email correspondence, Skype calls and crucial meetings in person in Poland, Germany, the UK and USA. We gradually enmeshed our process to the point where it has become no longer possible to discern who could claim ownership over ideas in boundarymind. We share tasks and responsibilities, compose, perform and produce the project together. Virtually absent from the history of Western Art Music, co-composing and co-authorship can bring much needed change to the composition-performance division still upheld in this field.
The acknowledgement of collaborative methodologies that defy Western Art Music’s single authorship convention requires introspection, retrospection, a practice of fairness and an ethos of collectivism. Among artists who recognise their interconnectedness, understanding of the act of collaborating draws on concepts such as compost, response-ability (Haraway, 2016) and mycorrhiza (Tsing, 2015). Furthermore, environmental metaphors such as contaminated entanglements (Fraser, 2021) and eco-systems of co-creation (Kölbel, 2017) strive to describe the variegated intertwinings of human and non-human agents without necessarily ascribing hierarchies to the way they come about. In our view these terms more amply and inclusively encompass the chaos and interdependence of collaborative dynamics.
- boundarymind introduction (who we are; reasons behind embarking on a long-term collaboration; conceptual ideas behind boundarymind) (3 min)
- boundarymind’s methodology (3 min)
- our collaborators (2 min)
- conceptual ideas behind considering co-composition in boundarymind a feminist methodology (5 min)
- boundarymind’s mvt 3 presentation (12 min)
- Q&A with the conference participants (5 min)
Keywords: co-composition, collaboration, co-authorship
Linda Jankowska is a musician whose practice orbits around long-term collaborations and multifaceted modes of working with sound that stretch her limitations. Primarily a violinist, she works at an intersection of instrumental performance, improvisation, and composition. She is also an active concert producer, contemporary performance researcher, and educator. Linda is a founding member and co-artistic director of Distractfold Ensemble. She is a PhD candidate at University of Huddersfield and Senior Lecturer at Leeds Conservatoire.
Katherine Young makes electroacoustic music and sonic art using expressive noises, curious timbres, and kinetic structures to explore the dramatic physicality of sound. Collaboration is central to her practice. The LAPhil, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt, Third Coast Percussion, Ensemble Dal Niente, Bludenzer Tage zeitgemäßer Musik, and others have commissioned her music. Her collaborators include Wet Ink, Ensemble Nikel, WasteLAnd, and Yarn/Wire. Katherine teaches at Emory University. She is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in Music Composition.
The importance of a quest for Hélène Cixous’ Écriture feminine (women’s writing) in contemporary music today
This research attempts to look closer at issues of the exclusiveness of the academic system in contemporary music and aims to stress the importance of the existence of environments for the development of other’s writing (not just women’s, not just binary) in contemporary music, that is straying away from institutionalized discourses. In the first part, I present the analysis of the path to statistical gender equality that was witnessed in Serbia from the 1940s to this day, mainly based on studies of musicologists Adriana Sabo, which I updated with numbers from recent years. Her study is presented in order to underline how the political and economic situation of a country can influence the distribution and presence of genders in professions, which was clearly shown in the number of professional composers at certain times in Serbia. According to the numbers of important roles and positions female and male composers have in cultural and educational institutions in Serbia, today, it appears that gender equality has been reached, and Sabo’s analysis can explain why and how it happened. Therefore, the time has come to question whether statistical gender equality opens the academic system of contemporary music to other’s writing. Does it provide us with fresh and unfamiliar variations of other kinds of music writing? Does it manage to diversify the old historically-established academic system that was built and developed by white cis males, centuries ago? Can we hear alternative writings, or do they learn to fit inside the system and continue the found tradition? How open are institutions to non-standardized and non-academic languages of music creation? Finally, and more specifically, what could be the evidence of traces and examples of other’s writing in contemporary works of music and why do we need to look for them?
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Keywords: contemporary music, gender equality, academic system, diversity, women’s writing
Maja Bosnić (1985, Serbia) is a composer, performer and Assistant Lecturer in Composition at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade. She obtained a PhD degree in Music Composition at Goldsmiths, University of London (UK), MA in Music Pedagogy (Belgrade) and is currently studying for PhD diploma in Transdisciplinary Studies of Contemporary Arts and Media (FMK, Belgrade). Bosnić’s works have been performed in festivals, such as: Musikprotokoll, Impuls (Austria), CTM Festival, Darmstädter Ferienkurse, Festival Junger Künstler Bayreuth (Germany), Music Here and Now, International Review of Composers, April Meetings, KOMA (Serbia), IYAF festival, Laban (United Kingdom), Sites + Subjects (Bulgaria), Timsonia (Romania) and Delian Academy of New Music (Greece). Her works have been performed around Europe with the support of Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade, Goethe-Institut and European Cultural Foundation.
More information: http://majabosnic.net
A Woman’s Heart: Feminism, Women, and A Communal Voice
A Woman’s Heart is a compilation album released in 1992 featuring musicians Mary Black, Eleanor McEvoy, Maura O’Connell, Dolores Keane, Frances Black, and Sharon Shannon. Labelled “the best-selling Irish album of all-time”, the all-woman compilation produced three more albums with recordings from additional singers, and in 2020, performed a special orchestrated version in the National Concert Hall Dublin. Reflecting on the success of A Woman’s Heart from its debut in 1992 to present day, this article examines socio-cultural, economic, and political characteristics of both Irish society and the music scene which have contributed to the compilation’s feminist reception and presence of the “communal voice”. I draw on the work of Sydney Gail Recht (1998) and Susan S. Lanser (1992), who have both considered the concept of the “communal voice” in relation to the writing styles of Virginia Woolf and Zora Neale Hurston. In this paper, the communal voice is used to describe the characteristics of the album which provided and encouraged insights into a range of experiences of people living in Ireland, specifically women who felt oppressed. Drawing on contemporary music scholarship, feminist scholarship and ethnomusicology in the form of indepth interviews with singer-songwriters Eleanor McEvoy and Cheryl Wheeler, this research also refers to topical material from contemporary media and politics to inform the analysis. In contributing to an understanding of the role of women in the Irish/ Irish traditional music industry and Irish society, the research also goes further, demonstrating how A Woman’s Heart reflects concurrent changes in both society and scene.
Keywords: Irish traditional music, Feminism, Women, Ethnomusicology
Biography: Joanne Cusack is a button accordionist, FairPlé activist, doctoral researcher and Graduate Teaching Assistant at Maynooth University. Awarded a doctoral teaching studentship from Maynooth University, her research examines how musical activity/participation in music/ the music industry reflects changes in society and politics in Ireland relating in particular to the role of women in Irish traditional music. Joanne has presented on her research both nationally and internationally, and in 2021, published a peer-reviewed article in Ethnomusicology Ireland. Joanne is also a co-founder of the activist organisation, FairPlé, which advocates for gender balance and equal representation for all in the promotion, performance, production and development of Irish traditional music. Joanne has organised and been invited to speak at several events pertaining to equality in the music industry. In addition to her studies and activist work, Joanne currently lectures for the music department at Maynooth University and in 2019, was awarded the “Postgraduate Student Teaching Award” in recognition of excellence in postgraduate student teaching activities.