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“Breaking the Bias,” inspired by this year’s theme of International Women’s Day, will feature 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 is 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.

In an effort to take action for gender equality, PROTESTRA will donate 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.

The concert will be available for online viewing from March 25 through April 8, 2022. Tickets to view this virtual concert are “pay-what-you-can,” with a suggested donation of $25 (minimum donation: $1). PROTESTRA’s mission is to keep classical music accessible to all audiences; those able to donate are encouraged to do so. If the cost of a ticket presents a financial burden to you, please email PROTESTRA at team@protestra.org to request free access.

The program will include:

  • 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 will be 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. This poignant piece was written during a tumultuous time in the composer’s life as she faced gender and racial barriers. PROTESTRA Assistant Conductor Christina Morris will conduct.

  • 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. The aria will be sung by 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 will conduct this delightful chamber piece for nine instruments.


This virtual concert will be recorded at <9B9>, the new home of 2B&2C: The Ken Cro-Ken Memorial Foundation and Whitebox. <9B9>, located at 9 Avenue B in Manhattan's Lower East Side, is a multidisciplinary art space dedicated to the transformative power of the arts. PROTESTRA is honored to be one of the first ensembles to perform in this new venue as part of <9B9>'s "Build-Out Series," which will highlight art and artists as the physical space progressively grows and evolves over time.

In addition to the musical selections, this performance will feature 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."

The virtual concert will be hosted by Artistic Director Michelle Rofrano, joined by other PROTESTRA team members. They will introduce the music and share statistical information to educate audiences on how we all can work to advocate for gender equality.