Breaking the Bias:
A Concert for Women's History Month

March 31-April 14, 2022

Recorded at <9B9> & Streamed Online

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About

“Breaking the Bias,” inspired by this year’s theme of International Women’s Day, featured works for chamber ensembles written by women composers. These composers and their works are representative of women overcoming gender-based discrimination in the field of classical music throughout history, from the 17th century to the present day. The purpose of this concert was to highlight a wide variety of women composers, celebrate women’s achievements in the face of systemic and cultural barriers, and raise awareness about intersectional biases against women of diverse backgrounds.

Program

  • A Room of One’s Own by contemporary Swedish composer Britta Byström, after the feminist essay by Virginia Woolf. The work is written for string ensemble and is conducted by PROTESTRA Artistic Director Michelle Rofrano.

  • Andante Moderato for String Orchestra by Florence Price, one of the most prominent African-American composers of the 20th century. Conducted by PROTESTRA Assistant Conductor Christina Morris, this poignant piece was written during a tumultuous time in the composer’s life as she faced gender and racial barriers.

  • Che si può fare? (What is one to do?), an Italian aria by renowned Baroque composer Barbara Strozzi. The most-published composer of secular music in 17th-century Venice, Strozzi was highly respected for her work yet also the target of jealousy and slander from her male peers. Featuring mezzo soprano and PROTESTRA Organizer Michaela Wright.

  • Choro Medley by Chiquinha Gonzaga, one of Brazil’s most influential composers and the creator of the choro genre. PROTESTRA will premiere a medley of three choro-style dance pieces—Lua Branca, Atraente, and O Abre Alas—originally composed for piano and newly arranged for small ensembles by Mitzy Nonaka and Pierce Yamaoka.

  • Nonet in E-flat major, Op. 38 by French Romantic composer Louise Farrenc. The only woman to be given a full-time professorship at the Paris Conservatoire in the nineteenth century, Farrenc used the success of the Nonet’s premiere to demand equal pay to her male colleagues. Michelle Rofrano conducts this delightful chamber piece for nine instruments.

In addition to the musical selections, this performance featured a new large-scale painting by Scottish-based artist and sculptor Roberta Fulford. "Rooted, flowing, wild" derives its title from Virginia Woolf’s quotation: “I am rooted, but I flow.” Fulford created the painting specifically for this performance “to consider the strength and pragmatism the featured composers faced in remaining rooted in their work and their belief in themselves despite bias and mistreatment."

Charities

In an effort to take action for gender equality, PROTESTRA donated a portion of ticket proceeds to Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), a Brooklyn-based nonprofit celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. GGE works intergenerationally, through a Black feminist lens, to achieve gender and racial justice by centering the leadership of Black girls and gender-expansive young people of color to reshape culture and policy through advocacy, youth-led programming, and shifting dominant narratives.