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Newark Public Library Presents the Music of Women Composers as Part of New Jersey Symphony’s Musical Matriarchs Program
Press Release March 16, 2007
Media only, please contact:
Heidi Cramer
(973) 733-7837 OR
Pam Goldstein
(973) 228-4559

The Newark Public Library will team up with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra to present a musical celebration of Women’s History Month featuring the works of eight female composers whose lives span four centuries. The performance, entitled Musical Matriarchs, is part of the Symphony’s REACH (Resources for Education And Community Harmony) program and will be held Thursday, March 29 at 6 p.m. in the Centennial Hall of the Main Library, 5 Washington Street, Newark.

"We love to hear beautiful music in our corridors and public spaces," said Library Director Wilma J. Grey. "We hope this partnership will grow and thrive and we can bring many more of what the NJSO calls "informances," performances with an educational component, to the Library in the future."

Four of the Orchestra’s string musicians: Adriana Rosin and Ann Kossakowski on violin, Lucy Corwin on viola, and Ted Ackerman on cello, will perform the works of women as varied as Ann Boleyn (yes, that Ann Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, who was beheaded for adultery) writing from her prison cell in the Tower of London to Montclair resident Hadas Pe’ery, 20, who is currently studying music at the Mannes College of Music in New York.

In addition to playing their works, the musicians will discuss the lives and roles of the composers and the cultural atmosphere of their eras. The discussion will highlight how prevailing attitudes toward women affected their lives and their compositions.

"Our own musicians create these informational concerts that combine music with spoken word," said Scott Harrison, the Orchestra’s manager of community programs. "The NJSO travels around the state to venues both private and public to present these informances for a variety of audiences."

The Orchestra plans spring performances of this and other informational concerts at area libraries, schools, hospitals and senior centers.

"As an institution that makes its home in Newark, it is very important to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra to partner with The Newark Public Library for programs such as Musical Matriarchs, right here in our backyard," said André Gremillet, NJSO President and CEO. "Not only is the Library a historic and beautiful venue for musical performance, it is also a center of culture and learning for the Newark community."

The featured composers also include Maddalena Casulana, an accomplished lutist and singer, famous for her three books of madrigals. She was born about 1544 near Siena, Italy and her career flourished from 1566 through 1583 in Vicenza.

Maria Margherita Grimani was an early 18th century Italian oratorio composer at the Viennese court. Her work, Pallade e Marte, a componimento dramatico, was the first operatic work by a women composer to be performed in the Vienna Court Theatre.

Another, Maddalena Laura Sirmen née Lombardini was born in 1745 in Venice and died in the same city in 1818. She was a noted Italian composer, violinist and singer. There appear to have been no other musicians in her family, and she became famous entirely through her own efforts.

Fanny Mendelssohn was a German composer, pianist and conductor and sister of the more well-known Felix Mendelssohn. She was born in 1805 in Hamburg, the eldest of four children born into a post-Enlightenment, cultured Jewish family. Some believe she was more talented than her younger brother, but was marginalized because of her gender.

Born in 1887 in Little Rock, Florence Bea Price was the first African American woman to win widespread recognition as a symphonic composer, rising to prominence (with William Grant Still and William Dawson) in the 1930s. After early training with her mother, she studied composition at the New England Conservatory in Boston.

The last of the featured composers, Ruth Crawford Seeger, step-mother of the famous folk artist Peter Seeger, had two important careers in a relatively short lifetime: that of composer and folk music specialist. As a composer, she was known in the 1920s and 30s as an American modernist. As a specialist in American traditional music, she transcribed, edited and arranged important anthologies in the 1940s and early 1950s. She was born July 3, 1901 in East Liverpool, Ohio, and died at the age of 52 in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The Musical Matriarchs program is free and open to the public. For more information, please call the Library at 973-733-7793.


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