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Women in Classical Music Celebrated with NWPR Broadcast

By Philip Trapp on Mar 24, 2016 06:31 PM EDT

In our continuing coverage of women in classical music for Women's History Month, listen to Northwest Public Radio's three-hour special on the genre's female visionaries.

Hosted by the station's classical music expert Gigi Yellen, the extended broadcast features an abundance of selections from women composers throughout the history of classical music, including such greats as French prodigy Lili Boulanger and marimba expert Evelyn Glennie.

The program opens with May Aufderheide's turn-of-the-century proto-ragtime piano piece "Dusty Rag," before launching into an absolutely haunting version of Hildegard's chorale, "O Virtus Sapientiae," from Karen P. Thomas and Seattle Pro Musica Women's Schola.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in regard to the broadcast's content, and any classical music fan would surely enjoy the comprehensive 180 minutes of glorious compositions presented.

As we at Classicalite have previously reported, sexism in the classical music industry remains a hot-button issue. As a microcosm of society at large, it merely highlights the bias we see in all manners of business. As composer Hannah Kendall told publication Ghost, the perceptions instilled in the music world serve to uphold the status quo, rather than allow female talent the opportunity to shine:

"I think that the industry is generally run by men; by white middle-class, middle-aged men, and I think it just makes it difficult if you're outside of that network to break into it."

In spite of the prejudices often experienced, the NWPR broadcast truly makes for a captivating listen. The pieces presented are as harmoniously transcendent as the work from any classic or contemporary male composer. As NWPR's Yellen explained, she initially found it difficult to find compelling women composers beneath history's chauvinistic veneer, but once over the hurdle, discovered a wealth of such material from all corners of history: 

"How do you celebrate Women's History Month in classical music, when the genre's history names few women composers? At NWPR over the past year, one answer has been: find what music you can, and play it. Inspired by Women's History Month 2015, we took on a challenge to program at least one piece by a woman composer each day."

Be sure to check out the special, linked above, for three hours of great classical music.

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TagsWomen's History Month, Lili Boulanger, Evelyn Glennie, Northwest Public Radio