How Are We Celebrating Women’s History Month?


By: Sarah Marczynski

In: Catch All


Composer Gender in Concert Performances

March is Women’s History Month and on March 8, many celebrated International Women’s Day by lauding the accomplishments of women and by pointing out the many issues that still affect women.

The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is doing it’s part to celebrate Women’s History Month with a performance this Thursday of Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto.  Not only is the concert featuring a piece by a female composer, the soloist is a female, CSO concertmaster Holly Mulcahy, conducted by a female conductor, Kayoko Dan. The CSO also has a full-time staff of all females.  We are woman, hear us play and administrate classical music!!

While women at the helm is obviously not a rarity in Chattanooga, it is in many other orchestras and arts organizations around the country.  And it’s perhaps even more of a rarity in the classical composition field.  On the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s “Stories” page, Ricky O’Bannon posted “By The Numbers: Female Composers, an article detailing the small numbers of female composers from a BSO study of 21 different, mostly large sized, orchestras.

15% of the compositions performed were by women composers; a number that may not be surprising, but perhaps should be.  We’re probably not overlooking compositions by women on purpose; rather overlooking them because they would be considered “new” or “unfamiliar to the audience” music, much like many compositions by men.

Cultural organizations are frequently found performing works by African American composers during Black History Month or Latin inspired works during Latino Heritage Celebrations.  What do we do to celebrate females? What do we do to celebrate and include ALL cultures?

As organizations begin to program 2015/16 and beyond and as you look to future community engagement and educational programs and celebrations of culture, look at how to include a diverse, year long celebration of all peoples and cultures.

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Sarah Marczynski
Sarah joined the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera in 2010 working with the Marketing and Development staffs and quickly became interested in community engagement and education. She holds a Master’s of Public Administration focusing in Nonprofit Arts Management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where her capstone and other work under Dr. Christopher Horne examined attendance patterns in high-art cultural institutions and network relationships between local arts agencies and cultural partners. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Vocal Music Education from UTC, where she studied under Dr. Kevin Ford and Ron Ulen. Sarah has been active in the Chattanooga arts community, serving as the founding chair of the Chattanooga Young Artistic Network (CYAN), graduating from the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute, and working with the Chattanooga Boys Choir, the Choral Arts Society, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Chattanooga Bach Choir. Outside of the arts world, Sarah pretends to be an excellent cook (but she's broken 2 ovens), reads Jane Austen novels, and watches way too much House of Cards.
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