Blow Your Trumpets: Arise, Arise A celebration of music by women composers

Chandos Chamber Choir will celebrate the music of women composers at their forthcoming London concert on 4 July, at St Pancras Church. They will perform a wonderful selection of choral works by women composers through the ages, with an exciting programme ranging from medieval works through to contemporary composers including Kerry Andrew, Cecilia McDowall, Carlotta Ferrari and Chen Yi.

portraits of the featured composers
portraits of the featured composers (Top L-R: Laura Snowden; Roxanna Panufnik (photo ©Benjamin Ealovega); Clara Schumann; Kerry Andrew. Bottom L-R: Fanny Mendelssohn; Sally Beamish (photo ©Ashley Coombes); Libby Larsen; Cecilia McDowall)

The performance will take the audience on a musical journey charting the way in which female composers have challenged expectations of their role in society and music throughout history. Women, such as Hildegard von Bingen who pushed the boundaries of traditional monophonic Gregorian chant with her fluid, expressive melodies, and Clara Schumann who held her own against her composer and pianist husband Robert, despite her doubts as a young 20 year old: “I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose—there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I expect to be the one?”.

This timeline of music by female composers will be brought up to date with the premiere of a new work by guitarist and composer Laura Snowden. Laura has been paired with the Chandos Chamber Choir through the prestigious Adopt a Composer scheme, and choir and composer have been working together to develop some exciting ideas. In keeping with the theme of the concert, Chandos and Laura considered a number of texts, written by women, settling on a poem entitled Evensong by Cherry Smyth.

Laura says, “When a member of Chandos Chamber Choir suggested using the text of Cherry Smyth’s poem Evensong as a starting point for this new work, I immediately fell in love with the poem. Cherry’s words are so colourful and evocative, and seemed a perfect fit for the choir. It has been a wonderful process to work with the choir and their brilliant director James, and I’ve hugely appreciated their willingness to share and try out new ideas.”

This concert will be the culmination of the Chandos Chamber Choir’s work with Laura, with the performance being recorded for potential broadcast by Radio 3. Adopt a Composer is run by Making Music in partnership with Sound and Music, in association with BBC Radio 3, and funded by PRS Foundation and The Philip and Dorothy Green Music Trust.

Author: Karen Parkes

I'm a pretty much lifelong civil servant with a fairly broad range of expertise covering policy, strategy, corporate services but mostly programme management. I sing with Lewisham Choral Society as well as Chandos, and also in a small outfit called the Montagu Singers who perform a couple of times a year.