Even as women have achieved growing parity in the ranks of symphony orchestras and chamber music groups, their numbers suddenly thin out upon scanning the names of composers in a Playbill.
Q2 Music has analyzed several key areas in contemporary classical music. In the U.S., women hold only 15% percent of composition faculty positions; women constitute under 15% of living composers whose works were featured on recent orchestral seasons and new-music series; and in the history of prestigious composition prizes, women obtain top honors only 9% of the time. While a handful of established women have risen to garner these elite awards and lucrative commissions, emerging composers still struggle to break through and get their music heard.
With that in mind, Q2 Music is presenting Her Music, a 24-hour, no-repeats marathon of pieces by emerging female composers on Sunday, August 24. The day will spotlight and celebrate the dynamism and diversity of music-making around the globe, if still outside the major concert spotlight, and indirectly quash the notion of any discernible "female composer" sound. Voted by listeners into Q2 Music's 24 hours on the 24th monthly series, the marathon repeats Thursday, August 28.
A look at 20 of the top music schools in the U.S. (as named by U.S. College Rankings in 2012) in the chart below reveals that, in 2014, women hold only 15% of composition faculty positions, or 20 of the 151 current positions. In fact, over half of the elite schools have no women on their composition department faculty; and only the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia has a woman – Jennifer Higdon – as a department chair. In New York, the percentage of women in composition faculty for 2014 rises to 21% (or 14 of 67 positions), with almost 50% coming from the two SUNY faculties, at Stony Brook and Purchase.