In this series, OnMilwaukee checks in with female composers from around the globe who are participating in a rare, women-composed concert put on by Present Music called "In The New Chamber."
It’s no secret that female composers are often overlooked and underemployed. For the first time in it 145-year history, The Met recently commissioned a woman to write an opera. And out of the 1,445 classical concerts that will be performed around the world by the end of the year, 95 percent won’t include a single piece composed by a woman.
Present Music – Milwaukee's internationally acclaimed new music ensemble that commissions, performs, records and tours the work of living composers – significantly surpasses this lack of recognition year after year. In 2018 alone, 50 percent of the pieces performed were female-composed.
The ensemble kicks off 2019 with, once again, extremely modern chamber music that’s rarely performed elsewhere. "In The New Chamber" features music entirely from women and non-binary composers living in places from Iceland to Australia.
The concert, curated by Present Music’s Eric Segnitz, takes place Feb. 21-22 in the Jan Serr Studio, 2155 N. Prospect Ave. (6th floor). The show starts at 7:30 p.m. The Thursday night performance is fancier and includes an intimate reception along with the concert, and the Friday night show is more casual. Tickets are available here.
OnMilwaukee recently chatted with composer Sonia Possetti, an Argentinian composer whose piece "Bullanguera" will be performed during "In the New Chamber."
OnMilwaukee: How long have you been a composer?
Sonia Possetti: I began to compose when I was a little girl, as a hobby, like a game of creating songs. I had no idea that I could be a composer in my adult life, but the first time that I played a piece composed by me, I felt that it was my true mission in life.
Did anyone in particular serve as a mentor or inspiration?
At home, I listened to popular music with my parents. They liked to listen to Astor Piazzolla and it was his music that inspired me to be a composer.
Why hasn't more female composers' work been recognized or performed?
Well, women are finally having more visibility in the world. But historically women have been neglected in all kinds of jobs, including the music industry.
But I think that step by step we are walking toward change. Next March, I will play a new piece with the National Symphonic Orchestra in Buenos Aires. It will be the first concert of the 2019 season, and it’s very unusual for the symphony to play music composed by a woman. This is a step in the right direction. I hope in the future it will be a lot more common.
Who are some of your favorite composers, living or dead?
Oh, I have a lot of favorite composers. Astor Piazzolla, as I already mentioned, and also Bach, Ligeti, Scriabin, Jobim, Gismonti and a lot of musicians from different musical genres.
What do you love about composing?
It’s a trip to compose. When I compose I enter into another dimension. It’s a sensory state that I enjoy being inside of.
What would you say about your music to someone who loves music, but listens primarily to "rock 'n’ roll" type music?
I would tell them to keep an open, curious mind and try to feel new and different sensations when listening to different music. I’m sure something inside you will move.
For tickets to "In The New Chamber" go here.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.