Music by Women Festival shines light on female composers

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The W hosted their annual International Music by Women Festival with multiple concerts playing music by female composers.

Artistic Director Julia Mortyakova said the goal of the festival is to bring more exposure to female composers.

“If you go to any concert, you are probably not going to see a woman composer in the program at all, if you do it is like a big victory. Every time I go and I see a woman composer in a program I am like ‘Yes!’ and it shouldn’t be that way. There should be an equal representation of men and women on concert programs,” Mortyakova said.

But they don’t just want to play pieces by current female composers but also historic ones.

“The historic women composers a lot of them have had very successful careers during their lifetime, and then somehow they were magically erased from music history, while their male counterparts had an equal amount of success and were on par with them during their lifetime somehow stayed and the women were erased. It’s a historical injustice that we are trying to correct,” Mortyakova said.

The festival also served to spread this mission globally.

“The festival serves as a catalyst for all the advocacy for women composers that happens throughout the year. These performers and presenters come from all around the world. We have people from Australia, from Poland, from all over the United States and they come here, they get inspired, exchange their information, they may hear a piece they want to play or find out about a composer they didn’t know about, they may meet a composer who might give them their score to play, and they take this music back to their own communities,” Mortyakova said.

Visiting composers Olga Harris and Diana Blom spoke about what they love about the festival.

“I think while women are getting more opportunities, I think there is always plenty more chance to spread women composer’s music,” Blom said.
“I enjoy the festival because we have a relationship, we can listen to a lot of music written by females and of course we can establish friendship,” Harris said.

This year was the eighth annual festival.

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