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College of Music concert to celebrate women musicians

April 16, 2021
<p>Photo courtesy of the MSU College of Music. </p>

Photo courtesy of the MSU College of Music.

The Michigan State College of Music is hosting a livestream concert event to showcase the works of six women musicians Monday, April 19. 

Director Deborah Moriarty hopes the show, “Trailblazers: Celebrating Women in Music,” brings recognition to the women artists featured. 

“Women in music have been, for a long time, sort of ignored,” Moriarty said. “Not so much recently, but still, there’s a lot of emphasis … in conservatories and in colleges of music on the traditional music — Beethoven, Debussy, Bach — and we tend to be a little bit stuck in the past, and when we’re stuck in the past, we don’t really do women composers because they were not given the sort of recognition they should have been given in the past.”

“Trailblazers: Celebrating Women in Music” is the last show of the 11th season of the West Circle Series. There are four concerts a year, and each has its own theme.

The first concert of the season was “Lift Every Voice,” which saw performers play the music of international Black and brown composers. The second and third concerts featured the music of Beethoven and Mozart.

This concert features mostly American women composers from the 20th century, Moriarty said.

Among the women whose compositions are featured are:

  • Amy Beach, the first successful American woman composer of large-scale art music

  • Florence Price, the first African American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a piece played by a major orchestra

  • Lena McLin, a former music educator and composer

  • Ann Ronell, a lyricist and composer

  • Mary Lou Williams, a Black jazz pianist who recorded more than 100 records 

  • Keiko Abe, a Japanese composer who developed the marimba

“(There’s) lots of variety, and lots of looks at how women composers really should be mainstream,” Moriarty said.

Moriarty said she hopes people love the featured music. 

“I hope that the music communicates to them the way only music can communicate,” Moriarty said. “Music is a language, and it communicates in a very special way ... mostly, I hope that they feel the wonderful-ness of the music.”

She said she feels that the music people haven’t heard before is just as significant as the music they hear all the time. 

“I hope that intellectually they understand that there’s a lot of great music out there that they haven’t heard before, because I think a lot of this music they will not have heard before,” Moriarty said.

The concert will broadcast live at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 19 from the Fairchild Theatre. It will be available to stream from the College of Music’s livestream channel

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