Monday, November 10, 2014

Tomorrow: meet SEVEN fascinating composers who happen to be women

I am very excited about this event tomorrow afternoon. BASCA (the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Arrangers) has drafted me in to be a Dimbleby to a panel of no fewer than seven composers, all female, each born in a different decade, to compare - so to speak - notes. A more exciting, versatile, intriguing group one couldn't imagine. It's a rare chance to get them all into the same room, round a table, to tell it like it is. They are:

Betty Roe
Nicola LeFanu
Judith Bingham
Shirley J Thompson
Mira Calix
Cheryl Frances-Hoad
Dani Howard

The discussion takes place at the Jermyn Street Theatre at 1pm (finishing shortly before 3pm) and you can book on Eventbrite via the BASCA site, here.

This is a real one-off, so do please try and join us! Here's the info off the BASCA page...

Women In Classical Music

Jermyn Street Theatre
16b Jermyn Street - London
Map data ©2014 Google
Women In Classical MusicDate/Time
Date(s) - 11/11/2014
1:00 pm - 2:50 pm

jessicaduchenClassical music journalist and author, Jessica Duchen, will interview seven female composers of classical music in the intimate setting of the Jermyn Street Theatre.

  • Betty Roe MBE, Professor Nicola LeFanu, Judith Bingham, Dr Shirley J. Thompson, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Mira Calix and Dani Howard will be sharing their life and work experiences.

Jessica will delve into each composers’ working experiences, as well as their inspirations, to discover what it means to be a female composer in a traditionally male-dominated area of music. If you have a question for the composer(s), you should ask in advance by email to
Ticket price (excluding booking fee)
  • BASCA member: £9.50
  • Non member: £12.00
  • (Students of BASCA’s Academic Supporters: £7.50)
***** BIOGRAPHIES *****
BettyRoe1Betty Roe’s versatility has enabled her to build a highly successful career as a composer, musician, singer, conductor and teacher. She studied piano and cello at the Royal Academy of Music as a Junior Exhibitioner and Senior Student (GRSM) where she gained LRAM, ARCM and FTCL Diplomas.
In 1970 Betty founded Thames Publishing with her late husband, John Bishop. As well as her own extensive list of works, Thames has published many English composers, of both contemporary and historical interest.
Betty was elected an Associate of the RAM in 1991 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1993. In January 2011, Betty was awarded an MBE for her services to classical music and composition.
NicolaLeFanu1Professor Nicola LeFanu has composed around one hundred works which have been widely played, broadcast and recorded. Her catalogue includes a number of works for strings, and chamber music for a variety of mediums, often including voice. She has a particular affinity for vocal music and has composed eight operas, which have been staged in UK, Ireland and USA. Her new opera, ‘Tokaido Road, A Journey after Hiroshige,’ was premiered at the Cheltenham Festival, July 6, 2014.
She is active in many aspects of the musical profession, as composer, teacher, director etc. From 1994-2008 she was Professor of Music at the University of York.
She was born in England in 1947 to Irish parents; her mother was the composer Elizabeth Maconchy. LeFanu studied at Oxford, RCM and, as a Harkness Fellow, at Harvard.
JudithBinghamBorn in Nottingham in 1952, and raised in Mansfield and Sheffield, Judith Bingham began composing as a small child, and then studied composing and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was awarded the Principal’s prize in 1971, and six years later the BBC Young Composer award. Recent composition prizes include: the Barlow Prize for a cappella music in 2004, two British Composer Awards in 2004 (choral and liturgical) one in 2006 (choral) and the instrumental award in 2008.
Judith Bingham was a member of the BBC Singers for many years, and between 2004 and 2009 she was their ‘Composer in Association’, during which time she wrote a series of choral works. Several of these were for the BBC Singers, but there were also pieces for other professional, amateur and collegiate choirs, including Salt in the Blood, written for the BBC Symphony Chorus to perform at the 1995 Proms.
In 2007 she was made a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music for distinguished services to church music.
ShirleyJThompsonThe music of composer Shirley J. Thompson is performed and screened worldwide and often described as “beautiful and powerful” (Le Figaro). A visionary artist and cultural activist, Thompson is the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony within the last 40 years.
Her work, ‘New Nation Rising, A 21st Century Symphony’ performed and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, was originally commissioned for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. The concept was latterly assumed as a framework for the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. She has also composed extensively for TV/film, theatre, dance and opera production.
Shirley J. Thompson is Reader in Composition and Performance at the University of Westminster and has served for over 10 years on several national arts institutions, including the Arts Council of Great Britain. She is a member of BASCA’s Classical Executive Committee and has been named in the Evening Standard’s ‘Power List of Britain’s Top 100 Most Influential Black People in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015’.
works-30-cover-rgb-Cheryl Frances-Hoad was born in Essex in 1980 and received her musical education at the Yehudi Menuhin School, Gonville and Caius College (University of Cambridge) and Kings College London. She was Music Fellow at Rambert Dance from 2012 – 2013, and from 2010-12 was the first DARE Cultural Fellow in the Opera Related Arts in association with Opera North and the University of Leeds. Cheryl won the BBC Young Composer Competition in 1996 at the age of 15 and since then her works have garnered numerous prizes and awards, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize (UK, 2007), the Sun River Composition Prize (China, 2007), The International String Orchestra Composition Competition (Malta, 2006), The Bliss Prize (UK, 2002), the first Robert Helps International Composition Prize (University of Florida, 2005), the Mendelssohn Scholarship (UK, 2002) and the Cambridge Composer’s Competition (UK, 2001).
Most recently in 2011 Cheryl was awarded a PRS Women Make Music award to write a new brass quintet for Onyx Brass, which was toured around the UK as part of the 2011/12 Music in the Round season.
MiraCalix1Mira Calix is an award winning composer, artist and performer based in the United Kingdom. She is signed to Warp Records, on which she has released five albums.  Although her earlier music is almost exclusively electronic in nature, in more recent years, she has incorporated classical orchestration into her work for installation pieces, film soundtracks, theatre and opera. Mira has been commissioned to write new works for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic-Ensemble 10/10, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Aldeburgh Festival,Bang On A Can, London Sinfonietta, Opera North and The Manchester International Festival amongst others.
In the autumn of 2009 she won a British Composer Award for her composition, ‘My Secret Heart’. The installation, commissioned by Streetwise Opera, and featuring the voices of a 100 strong choir, was also the recipient of a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 2009 and was a finalist in the arts category of the National Lottery Award in 2010. Mira is currently working on a collaboration with artist Conrad Shawcross and a large scale cross media installation to premiere at the Sydney Festival 2015.
Dani-HowardDani Howard is a scholar at the Royal College of Music, London, supported by a Douglas and Hilda Simmonds Award and the Henry Wood Trust. She has had her compositions performed internationally in Europe and Asia in prestigious concert venues including the Royal Academy of Arts, National Gallery, St. Martin in the Fields and Cyberport HK among others. Recent commissions include a work for solo percussion for performance in the BBC Young Musician of the Year Percussion Final and a fanfare for large brass ensemble for the RCM Graduation Ceremony.
Most recently Dani won third place in the International Antonin Dvorak Composition Competition Junior Category in Prague, and was awarded winner of the Sound:Vision Competition presented by the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) and IdeasTap. Dani has developed a keen interest in percussion writing, and a working relationship with the RCM percussion department led to the premiere of Introspection for 24 percussionists in May 2013. Earlier this year she was commissioned to write a Percussion Octet which was performed on tour in Basel, Switzerland. Throughout 2014 she has had two compositions aired on BBC Radio 3, and one televised on BBC Channel 4.

[** BASCA reserves the right to cancel this event at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control. We also reserve the right to alter or change the programme and line-up without prior notification.] 
Photographer credits: Lisa & Darren Coleman / Patrick Douglas Hamilton / Andreea Tufescu Photography