Remembering Sonja Grossner 1942-2020

Women in Music were very sad to hear of the death of the composer and violinist Sonja Grossner on 12 April. Sonja was a long standing and active member of Women in Music and she made the effort to come to AGMs despite recent health issues.

Sonja wrote over 200 works and obtained a PhD at Birmingham Conservatoire. She was a passionate campaigner for equal opportunities for women in the arts.

Her "Double Concerto for Bass Trombone and Clarinet" was performed by the Orchestra "I Solisti Veneti" directed by Claudio Scimone in Italy in 2017 with support from Donne in Musica as part of their work highlighting the considerable wealth of fine female composers in Europe.

You can listen to her work "From Dark to Light" here:

There is a thoughtful obituary by Sheila Mosley about Sonja's life and her work with the People’s Arts Collective in Leicester which you can read here:

Nora Marazaite, Royal Northern Sinfonia Young Composer Competition winner, new commission, Middlesbrough Town Hall, Thursday 19th of March

Beethoven 2020: The Next Generation

Royal Northern Sinfonia Return to Teesside for Beethoven Retrospective

Following the successful launch of Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Beethoven-themed concert series in January, the celebrated orchestra is returning to Middlesbrough Town Hall for their second instalment of celebrations for the iconic composer’s 250th birth anniversary.

With Symphonies No. 1 and No. 3 having already been performed to acclaim in the first concert of the series, Thursday 19th of March will see RNS perform Symphony No. 2 along with one of Classical Music’s most well-known and universally admired pieces, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.  

People of all ages will be familiar with this landmark piece of music, with the opening four notes being quoted across classical and popular compositions, referenced in television and film, and famously serving as the opening for BBC Radio broadcasts during the Second World War.

Led by celebrated conductor, Marta Gardolińska, this is a rare opportunity to experience this iconic piece of music in a live setting, performed by one of the country’s leading classical orchestras.

Commenting on the forthcoming performance, Gardolińska said:

“I have been very much enjoying re-exploring the world of Beethoven's symphonies in preparation for this concert. It is a fascinating experience to dive into his language and trace how it developed from early signs of strong musical character in the 2nd symphony to the revolutionary dramatism of the 5th.  I can't wait to share this with the orchestra and audiences of our concerts.”

Accompanying the two symphonies will be a brand-new commission from Nora Marazaite, winner of the Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Young Composer Competition.

Speaking of the debut of her latest composition, the 25-year-old composer said:

“I can’t wait to hear my own piece premiered alongside Beethoven’s Second and Fifth Symphonies.

“The audience can expect an intense emotional musical journey from the evening, especially with the performance of Beethoven’s Fifth ending the concert.”

Gardolińska added: “I think juxtaposing Beethoven’s music with a fresh composition by a young composer who drew inspiration from his techniques will shine a new light on the symphonies.

“Needless to say, experiencing a premiere of a brand-new piece of music is always an extraordinary privilege as it invites us to listen in a different, unbiased way.”

Produced with the support of the EU funded platform, Classical Futures Europe, this concert series puts Beethoven’s work in the hands of the next generation of conductors and composers, with the aim of introducing a new audience to Beethoven’s work and demonstrate how the composer continues to be relevant today.

Commenting on the relevance of Beethoven in the 21st Century, Gardolińska said:

“Beethoven was a volcano of creative energy and a bold, unapologetic composer, and is relevant today because of the universality of his ideas.

“He strived for creative and social freedom and was unapologetic about it. He composed from a place of great integrity and faithfulness to his ideals, always striving to innovate and explore.

“In the 21st century we have understood and put a lot of weight on the importance of being creative for individuals as well as for societies. Beethoven as a composer is a role model for anyone wanting to be creative.”

Marazaite continued: “I believe that Beethoven's works will remain relevant for a very long time as they hold such a significant position in the symphonic repertoire.

“Even as tastes change with time, the compositional technique and innovation means the works continue to captivate audiences as well as be an important source of research and analysis.”

Hailing from Lithuania, the young composer draws on the compositional style of Beethoven along with elements of the traditional music of her home country to create something altogether unique.

Marazaite commented on her approach to this commision: “As a starting point, I chose some elements of Beethoven's Symphonies that were quintessentially his, such as the use of extreme contrasts, juxtaposing materials and textures.  

“I then used fragments of traditional Lithuanian songs as a starting point for the melodic themes and developed these ideas in three small movements.”

Taking place within the recently renovated Main Hall, this event will be reminiscent of Middlesbrough Town Hall’s early history, when the venue played host to a number of now iconic classical artists, including Russian pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninov, Austrian composer Johann Strauss and Sir Edward Elgar.


Beethoven 2020: The Next Generation will take place on the 19th March at Middlesbrough Town Hall.

Tickets are priced at £21.00 - £26.00 (+ booking fee).

To book tickets, call the box office on 01642 729 729 or visit Middlesbrough Town Hall’s website:

(Press release from JAC Media Online Ltd, Albion House, Stepney Bank, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 2NP)

The Glasgow School of Art Choir is commissioning seven female composers in its Composeher project

With backing from Creative Scotland and individual supporters of a crowdfunding campaign, the Glasgow School of Art Choir has commissioned seven leading female composers from Scotland, England, Australia and the USA to create a set of entirely new choral works. These are being worked on now and will be premiered by the GSA Choir in Glasgow in May 2021.

The seven commissioned composers are Dee IsaacsCecilia McDowallPippa MurphySarah RimkusAilie RobertsonRebecca Rowe and Jane Stanley.

Women in Music will post further information about the workshops and concerts as they become available.

More about this project follow these links

Tailleferre Ensemble Celebrate International Women’s Day Monday 9th March 7:30 pm Conway Hall, London

Tailleferre Ensemble presents:

Tailleferre Ensemble Celebrate International Women’s Day

Monday 9th March @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

'The Tailleferre Ensemble will play a concert of wind music by women to mark International Women’s Day, and explore the variety of music composed by women since the Suffragette movement through to today.

The programme will consist of two halves, one of music from the last 100 years, and the second of contemporary music. The first half will include works by Ethel Smyth, Rebecca Clarke, Florence Price and Amy Beach. Ethel Smyth is renowned for being imprisoned for her membership of the suffragette movement and conducting a suffragette choir in Holloway Prison with her toothbrush. She also composed ‘The March of the Women’, commonly known as the suffragette anthem. Rebecca Clarke broke down many barriers to women writing music, and is often regarded as the most distinguished British female composer of the inter-war generation. Amy Beach wrote the first orchestral symphony to be composed and published by an American woman, and Florence Price fought for black women’s suffrage.

In the second half we will pair these works with contemporary pieces, to highlight the effect that these pioneering women had on artistic life and culture today – thanks to their efforts, female composers are treated as being on a much more equal footing with their male counterparts, although there is some way to go. Contemporary composers we are including are Cecilia McDowall, Rhian Samuel and Diana Burrell.

The Tailleferre Ensemble is a new chamber collective founded by Nicola Hands and Penelope Smith, dedicated to promoting women in music. The group is a flexible chamber ensemble made up of female musicians, who offer recitals of differing style and instrumentation, but who wish to shine a light on lesser-known composers and underline the importance of women in music. Since starting up in May 2019, they have performed in various venues, in and around London, to positive acclaim. On 9th March they will come together as a wind quintet, to perform works both composed and arranged for this instrumentation.

Please do join us in our artistic celebration of this important day.'

To reserve tickets please email:-
[email protected]





Doors open at: 7:00 pm

This event is in the Main Hall on the ground floor. For accessibility info:

MESTIZA - The voice of Catarina Domenici - Thursday 27 Feb, 7.45pm St James' Sussex Gardens London

'If you are in London, please do join us on Thursday 27th February to listen to the works by the wonderful Brazilian composer and pianist, Catarina Domenici who will be joined by DONNE's founder & curator, soprano Gabriella Di Laccio to present the UK premières of her new Song Cycle: Letters to my Mother as well as Amazonia, Ciranda and piano solos.'

Villiers Quartet & Lucinda Cox – Lunchtime Concert – Ailsa Dixon & Ethel Smyth – St George's Bristol Thursday 20 February 1pm

'A special concert celebrating British composer Ailsa Dixon (1932 – 2017).

Villiers Quartet
Lucinda Cox

Ailsa Dixon  Nocturnal Scherzo
Ethel Smyth  String Quartet in E Minor
Ailsa Dixon  The Spirit of Love

A recent revival of interest in the composer Ailsa Dixon has led to the performance of new works, including a set of songs for soprano and string quartet, ‘The Spirit of Love’, receiving its premiere at this concert, performed alongside the composer’s Nocturnal Scherzo and Ethel Smyth’s String Quartet in E minor.

Event supported by the Gemma Trust and the Music Reprieval Trust'

Illuminate Women's Music, Royal College of Music 15th Feb 3 pm with pre-concert talk by Dr Angela Slater 2 pm

Illuminate Women's Music, Royal College of Music 15th February

Beach Pastorale for Woodwind Quintet op 151
Kaija Saariaho Mirrors
Bosmans String Quartet
Price Second movement from Sonata in E minor
Caroline Shaw Valencia for string quartet
Angela Elizabeth Slater The Sun Catcher
Jennifer Higdon Dark Wood

Illuminate promotes the work of emerging women composers and performers.
Dr Angela Slater brings her fascinating concert series to the RCM with an afternoon dedicated to the inspirational work of both emerging and established female composers, performed by RCM musicians.

HEAR MORE: Illuminate pre-concert talk: Dr Angela Slater and Dr Natasha Loges in conversation at 2pm in the Recital Hall.