The Association of British Orchestras’ Sirens scheme today announces its second year of awards made to raise the awareness of historic women composers in orchestral programming. The scheme looks for distinctive projects with significant and/or repeat performances, and a public engagement element. The successful applicants for funding in the 2019/20 season are Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music and Aurora Orchestra.

Trinity Laban will present a concert (12 December 2019) including major works by two close friends: Elizabeth Maconchy’s The Land – based on a poem by Vita Sackville-West – and Grace Williams’ Symphony no 2. This will form the basis of an intergenerational creative music project exploring issues of place and literature as well as gender, working with local schoolchildren plus a group from their “Inspired not Tired” older people’s programme.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a concert at Cadogan Hall (22 April 2020) featuring music by the French composer Lili Boulanger. D’un matin de printemps and D’un soir triste will be framed by works written by Boulanger’s compatriots and influencers Fauré (her teacher), Ravel and Saint-Saëns. The RPO also plans to tour this programme to UK regional venues.

The Academy of Ancient Music will be raising awareness of music by women from both the early and late eighteenth century. Music by Maria Grimani marks the transition from Baroque to the Classical period and will be heard in London and Cambridge (October 2020). The work by Marianna Martinez is the only Classical period symphony written by a woman, and will be heard in Bury St Edmunds, London and Cambridge (18, 19. 20 November 2019) in performances directed by Viktoria Mullova. Films with artistic commentary will make the performances available to the widest audience possible.

Aurora Orchestra will present Louise Farrenc's Symphony no. 3 in G minor (1847) at Kings Place (14 December 2019). As the Paris Conservatoire’s first female Professor of Piano, Farrenc (1804–1875) was a highly influential figure. Yet despite its quality the symphony is rarely performed. Famously Farrenc argued for equal pay; it is therefore apt that the work will be presented as part of a concert marking the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act.

“Frequently ignorance is the main issue around music by women. The essential thing is for people to hear their works. When these pieces are heard, there is no more reason for omitting them. Roll on inclusion...” Diana Ambache
The ABO Trust received a generous gift from Diana Ambache in 2016 to run a new fund, Sirens, which aims to raise awareness and appreciation of the music written by historical women from around the world. Annual grants will be allocated according to the range and value of each project. Each year over 10 years up to £19,000 will be shared between 4 to 5 projects for concerts, tours, recordings and education work deemed to be doing most to advance and promote the understanding of music by women. To date the scheme has supported performances of works by Germain Tailleferre, Cécile Chaminade and Dorothy Howell and Maria Antonia Walpurgis.

Orchestras are encouraged to use The Women of Note website as a resource, which lists orchestral music by historical women composers. The awards panel for the current round comprised Diana Ambache, Helen Wallace, Kings Place, Edwina Wolstencroft, BBC Radio 3, Philip Cashian, composer, and Fiona Harvey, ABO.



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