Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Affirmative Action" from a Different Angle

There has been a lot of chatter recently on NewMusicBox regarding the programming of female composers and whether or not an "affirmative action" approach is necessary. Amy Beth Kirsten's thoughtful and optimistic article on the state of gender in the composition world sparked an interesting debate about the subject of programming (with Kirsten making the argument that an affirmative action approach is no longer necessary). I disagree with this, but at first I did agree with Kirsten's idea that programming more new music in general would solve the gender disparity. On second thought, however, I just don't think this is true, especially since there are new music ensembles that don't program female composers in proportion to the demographic. Now, please bear with me because I admit this may be a bit of a kooky metaphorical argument for affirmative action, but here goes...

New music is underrepresented, right? I think we all can get behind that. We all can agree that orchestras and other traditional ensembles, for the most part, do not program nearly enough new music to satisfy the needs and talents of the contemporary composition scene. Furthermore, nobody in our community would say that the lack of representation of new music is due to a lack of quality compositions. We all know that the programming needs of orchestras and other groups are more complex than that. Presumably, therefore, new music is under-programmed for other reasons. Perhaps it would help to imagine "new music" as its own minority group in terms of general "classical" programming.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More Discussion About Women Composers (or the Lack Thereof)

I am very excited to share this fantastic article (and comments) from NewMusicBox by David Smooke. I really don't have anything to add to it because it eloquently discusses many of the issues that we've talked about on this blog in the past: about the appalling lack of women in the field of composition, both in sheer numbers and in performances and programming, and why, the gender make-up of competition winners, confidence issues in the world of composition as they relate to gender, etc. It even has statistics... and pie charts!!

It's really nice to know that people are talking about this important issue. Let's keep it up!

- Posted by Sarah