Akron Symphony Explores Female Composers with “Stand Beside Her” Project

Sat 10/19 @ 8PM

Considering that the Akron Symphony Orchestra has been deeply committed to programming music by traditionally underrepresented composers or artists, this year’s selection of the “Stand Beside Her” project was a logical choice.

“What I was noticing, in addition to there being a lot of women composers coming to the floor in our planning, 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19thamendment,” Akron Symphony Orchestra violinist and Development Manager Kimia Ghaderi said.

“So it’s the perfect year to going off our goal toward featuring more women composers and composers from diverse backgrounds to give them the spotlight for this year.”

Taking its title from Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” “Stand Beside Her,” which takes place at E.J. Thomas Hall, features the work of six influential women composers/artists:

  • “The Wreckers Overture” by Ethel Smyth, part of “Symphonic Shakespeare” (Oct. 19)
  • “Coquetos” by Gabriela Lena Frank, part of “The Four Seasons” (Nov. 16)
  • “Made in America” by Joan Tower, part of “Appalachian Spring” (March 18)
  • “Masquerade” by Anna Clyne and Juba Dance, “Finale” by Florence Price and “Impressions of Cheonmachong” by Kyle and Brooke Jee-in Newmaster, part of “Symphonic Dances” (May 16)

“After all of our classic series concerts this year, we’re going to be having TalkBacks with a panel of musicians where audience members can come join us in the lobby after concerts and talk to musicians about a number of different topics,” Ghaderi said.

“We’ll talk about everything from the musician’s experience with that specific program to their background as musicians, how they got started and what else they do.”

In an effort to edify the audience prior to each performance, Akron Symphony Orchestra Music Director Christopher Wilkins provides a preview from the podium statement regarding the specifics, historic background and composers about the pieces.

Something else that has Ghaderi excited about the “Stand Besides Her” repertoire is the newness of the material.

“One of the interesting things about this project is that it’s giving us all the opportunity to play pieces that we don’t have prior experience with,” Ghaderi said. “The idea long-term is that these pieces aren’t so much of these novelties that we’ve never seen or heard before, but they do gradually become part of the regular canon.

“Eventually we don’t have to differentiate women composers from male counterparts. That it’s just all part of the general canon of performed repertoire, and it gets the attention it really deserves.”

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