by Irene Urrutia Martín, Julie Mooser and Franziska Reith (08.03.2023)
Despite progress in achieving gender equality in various fields, there is still a significant lack of female representation in the world of classical music. To address this issue, many countries have established initiatives to support female musicians in their careers, including associations and music festivals. These efforts have helped increase visibility and empower women in classical music.
However, these associations and festivals may not be as well-known as other events. In this article, we share four initiatives from our respective countries that aim to promote the presence of women in classical music. We encourage readers to look for similar projects in their own communities to support and promote gender equality in music.
© Sebastian Vandrey für Susa Berivan
Les Femmes s'en Mêlent (LFSM) is a significant international event that showcases the musical creations of female artists. The festival was established on March 8, 1997, in Paris, with the goal of addressing the under-representation of women in the festival industry.
LFSM hosts concerts across France in cities such as Marseille, Grenoble, and Ile-de-France, as well as internationally in locations like London, Brussels, Madrid, and Montreal. This year, the Grenoble edition runs until March 11, while the Marseille edition runs throughout the month of April.
The festival's diverse programme features a range of music genres, including pop, electronica, jazz, classical, and rock. Several famous artists, such as Christine & The Queens, Cat Power, Soko, Daphné, Nouvelle Vague, and La Grande Sophie, have been discovered at LFSM, and foreign artists have performed their debut concerts in France.
Additionally, LFSM introduced the Les Femmes S'Engagent initiative in 2021, which includes workshops, conferences, meetings, screenings, and debates aimed at supporting the trajectories of women and non-binary individuals.
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The Asociación Mujeres en la Música (AMM) was founded in 1989 by composer Mª Luisa Ozaitaque. It is a national organization dedicated to promoting gender equality in all aspects of musical practice and study. With over 150 members in various music fields, the AMM strives to increase the presence of women in music by organizing concerts, festivals, meetings, round tables, and book and record presentations.
Among its notable initiatives are the Festival Mujeres en la Música de Getxo in Bilbao, Spain, and the "Música de Mujeres en las Aulas" project, which aims to bring women's music into the classroom.
The AMM seeks to make visible the obstacles that women musicians may face in their professional careers. They do so through a political, collective, inclusive, and collaborative approach, working alongside other associations and maintaining their economic, political, and institutional independence.
The publishing house was established in 1986 by entrepreneur Renate Matthei. It is incredibly popular because it remains the only music publishing house worldwide that exclusively has scores, books, and CDs by and about women composers in its catalog. The publishing house has published over 2,000 works by approximately 170 women composers from all corners of the world. One of the most renowned female composers represented by the label is Fanny Hensel, the sister of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, who has over 200 of her works published to date!
The creation of the publishing house in the 1980s generated significant momentum. Before then, it was a widespread prejudice that women were not capable of composing music. The musical creations of women, often overlooked, became available to a broader audience and sparked increased interest in research. The publishing house has won the German Music Publishing Prize multiple times for its editions of selected scores.
Donne, Women in Music, is an organization founded in 2015 that aims to promote and support women composers in the UK. They work towards increasing the visibility of women composers and their music, promoting gender equality in the music industry, and addressing the under-representation of women in music.
One of Donne, Women in Music's main initiatives is the "Women of the Future" concert series, which showcases works by living women composers from the UK and beyond. The series features performances by top musicians and ensembles, including the BBC Singers and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
In addition to their concert series, Donne, Women in Music, also offers various resources and support for women composers, including workshops, mentoring programs, and commissions for new works. They also collaborate with other organizations to promote gender equality in the music industry and create opportunities for women composers.
Donne, Women in Music, has made significant strides towards increasing the representation and recognition of women in music in the UK. Their efforts have helped to raise awareness of the contributions of women composers and create a more inclusive and equitable music industry for all.