BBC Radio Three’s trails for its plans for International Women’s Day – a whole day’s worth of programmes focussing on women in classical music – set me to wondering about SCS and women composers.
Our Archive Page provides a rich source of information about our story so far. My limited knowledge of classical music suggested that a fifty – fifty representation of women composers would be too much to expect. What about ten percent? Oh dear! According to our archive Strathaven Choral Society has sung music by female composers on ……. Zero occasions. Never.
Googling ‘women choral composers’ throws up 163,000 results; delete the word ‘women’ and there are 2.66 million results.
Hildegard of Bingen heads most lists of female composers of choral music and there’s a sprinkling of mentions of Lili Boulanger, Fanny Mendelssohn, Judith Weir, Thea Musgrave and quite a few more. Now an admission: I don’t know much of the work of most of these women (well, I listen to Radio 3 and they’re devoting only 1/365 of a year to women composers) and so I cannot argue that SCS has been missing some great music. Would the quest for gender equality be sufficient reason for poor quality repertoire? I don’t believe so and therefore I am neither complaining nor campaigning. Rather I simply offer a little food for thought on this International Women’s Day.
To finish on a positive: this year’s Making Music Adopt a Composer pairs six composers with amateur music groups and SCS is delighted to be working with Mark Carroll. Of the five others, three are paired with female composers.