If you attended a major symphony performance anywhere in the U.S. last year, chances are you did not see any works by women composers.
In fact, if you’re like most Americans, it’s quite conceivable that you have never seen a live performance of a symphonic work by a woman composer—and it’s not because women aren’t writing music.
According to a survey of 89 American symphony orchestras (ranging from regional ensembles to full-time, major orchestras), women composers accounted for only 1.7 percent of the total pieces performed in the 2015-2016 concert season. And of the performances of works by living composers, women accounted for just 14 percent.
To say that women are underrepresented in classical music would be an understatement. Women are clearly not being heard—the question is, why is nobody listening?
As a new music media outlet, Second Inversion is in a unique position to help combat this inequality. Since our inception we have worked tirelessly to provide educated and unbiased coverage of music by both men and women alike, with the firm belief that good music is good music, regardless of the gender of the composer, conductor, or performers.
We will continue to provide thorough and balanced new music coverage—but we would also like to challenge ourselves and our listeners to think more critically about issues of gender and diversity in the music that they program, perform, and consume.
Second Inversion is proud to launch our Women in (New) Music series: an ongoing exploration into the past, present, and future of feminism in classical music. This multimedia series will highlight feminist issues within and beyond the classical music sphere, inviting female-identifying musicians, artists, and writers from all areas of the field to share their own experiences.
Our goal is to showcase a broad and diverse range of perspectives, collaborating with one another to craft a series that is inclusive, empowering, and thought-provoking for all of our readers, listeners, contributors, and colleagues. It is our hope that this series will eventually grow into an entire online library of interviews, guest blog posts, photos, videos, editorials, opinion pieces, artworks, creative projects, and more, accessible as a free resource for anyone interested in exploring the intersection of feminism and music.
We look forward to the critical discussions and challenging ideas that this series will ignite, and hope that you will join us in this dialogue with an open and analytical mind. Together, we can better educate ourselves and others in the classical music community about issues of systemic gender discrimination in classical canon—and together, we can ensure that not another concert season passes with less than 2 percent of women’s works on the program.
Because ultimately, good music transcends all politics of gender and sexuality, and together, we can preserve and propel a music tradition made richer by women’s contributions.
We welcome all questions, concerns, feedback, and ideas on the Women in (New) Music series. If you are interested in contributing or have questions about how you can get involved, please contact Maggie Molloy at firstname.lastname@example.org.