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.

Jennifer Fowler's CD, Lines Spun, receives an excellent Review

WiM Founder Member Jennifer Fowler has a wonderful CD - extraordinarily her debut featuring only her music - called Lines Spun played by the Lontano Ensemble released by Divine Arts Recording Group

A highlighted quote says: 

“What better way than this for a composer to celebrate her eightieth birthday – and a lifetime of creativity!”

Women in Music congratulates Jenny Fowler on her success. Read the review here

Lines Spun. Music by Jennifer Fowler

Artist/s: Lontano, directed by Odaline de la Martinez, Raphaela Papadakis (soprano), Lauren Easton (mezzo-soprano). Lontano: Rowland Sutherland (flute), Clare O'Connell (cello), Natalie Bleicher (piano), Janey Miller (oboe), Andrew Sparling(clarinet)

Category: ClassicalNew Music
Label: Divine Arts Recording Group. Métier msv 28588

Reviewed by Gwen Bennett

“What better way than this for a composer to celebrate her eightieth birthday – and a lifetime of creativity!”

"Expatriate Australian Jennifer Fowler was born in 1939 in Bunbury,Western Australia. Tertiary education at the University of Western Australia nurtured her talents which were soon recognised through composition prizes, performances and broadcasts. She travelled overseas for further education and experience and subsequently spent most of her life in London as a freelance composer. Her works include orchestral, ensemble, solo and choral music. Over the years she has won many awards, received many commissions and international performances. Amazingly, this CD is the first to be dedicated entirely to her output. It presents a nicely balanced program of three vocal works interspersed with three instrumental pieces..."    Read on on  here 

Diversity Arts Network Meeting - New Projects and Commissions - Tues Jan 28th, Whitstable, 2-4pm and Wed Feb 12th, Gravesend, 2-4pm

Diversity Arts Network  

New Projects  

Tues Jan 28th, Whitstable, 2-4pm

The Horsebridge Arts Centre, 11 Horsebridge Road, Whitstable CT5 1AF


Wed Feb 12th, Gravesend, 2-4pm

The Woodville, Woodville Place, Gravesend DA12 1DD


Wishing all our members a Happy and peaceful 2020 and looking forward to seeing you at one of these DAN sessions. 


Calling all local creatives, performers, producers, artists, designers, writers,  arts organisations, diverse community groups, museums and libraries.  The Diversity Arts Network is seeking to develop 3-4 new projects and commissions using local artists, arts organisations and venues in partnership with  DAN consortium members.  

DAN has been awarded funds from the Arts Council to develop its membership consortium in the South East.  As part of this we will be undertaking a mapping of all local organisations and artists including arts and community organisations, museums, libraries and any other relevant networks.  We will be gathering information on projects that members have been involved in that link to the diverse sector and the challenges that they have faced.  

DAN will share learning from this research,  and explore opportunities for partnerships and collaborations with NPOs and non NPOs locally, nationally or both.  Conclusions from the research will form the basis of a future local strategy that will result in more consistent and dynamic programming, partnerships and collaborations of diverse artists and arts/cultural organisations. 

Overall the data will provide the Network with a valuable resource and  recognised position in the locality as a body taking a central role in contributing to the Creative Case.

This data collected will include information on venues, performances spaces and  promotors/bookers across the region with potential to work with, support and programme artists from culturally diverse backgrounds.  The mapping will be used to more accurately access the art-form types and ranges of experience of diverse artists and arts/cultural organisations in the region.

If you are interested in being part of DAN and developing new partnerships, projects and commissions with local artists and organisations we would be interested in hearing from you. 

There will be opportunities for all attendees to talk about their projects and to network.  

A light lunch will be provided from 1.30pm. 

We would like to thank The Horsebridge Arts Centre and The Woodville for their support in co-hosting these sessions with us. 

Please register on Eventbrite at:

Gender balanced radio show The Daffodil Perspective 17th January 2020

Herstory Rewritten exploring the life and music of Romantic composer, pianist, teacher and trailblazer Louise Farrenc in this week's show.

A is for Auerbach in the start of my A-Z of contemporary composers, every show featuring composers at the forefront of the classical scene.

A brand new world premiere of Florence Price by pianist Lara Downes.

Plus new albums by Nicholas Phan, Yolanda Bruno, Paula Gudmundson and music by Reicha, Ades, Arutiunian, Lili Boulanger and more gender balanced fun.

Ailsa Dixon, composer, 1932-2017 - a guest post by Josie Dixon

Among the many women composers side-lined in musical history who are becoming the focus of new interest, Ailsa Dixon (1932-2017) only began to receive her share of recognition in the last months of her life.  While there were a handful of performances during her most fertile period of composition in the 1980s and ’90s (most notably by Ian Partridge, Lynne Dawson, and the Brindisi Quartet), there followed several decades of almost complete neglect.  Then, in 2017, a work that had been lying in manuscript for thirty years was chosen for premiere as part of the London Oriana Choir’s Five15 project highlighting the work of women composers.  These things shall be received its first performance in the spectacular glass-roofed concert hall surrounding the keel of the Cutty Sark just five weeks before the composer’s death.

Five 15 at the Cutty Sark, July 2017.  Photo: London Oriana Choir / Kathleen Holman

It was sung again at memorial concerts in London and Bristol, and is now showing signs of entering the choral repertoire, with subsequent performances by choirs in Oxford and Cambridge and festivals from Little Missenden to Romsey Abbey.  With its vision of a future when ‘New arts shall bloom’, it seems especially apt that it came to light in the context of the enterprise to give due prominence to the work of women composers.  

Ailsa Dixon (centre) at the premiere of These things Shall be in July 2017, with fellow composers Dobrinka Tabakova (left) and Cheryl Frances Hoad (right).  Photo: London Oriana Choir / Kathleen Holman

Born Ailsa Harrison, she came from a musical family background: next to the piano in the cottage where she grew up was a portrait of her musical ancestor Feliks Yaniewicz (1762-1848), the Polish composer and violinist who co-founded the first Edinburgh Festival.  She played the violin in the London Junior Orchestra, studied the piano with Hilda Bor, took her LRAM, and went on to read music at Durham University in the early 1950s.  It was here that she first began playing the lute, which she later studied with Diana Poulton.  There was no formal tuition in composition, but by the time she left university she had written her first work for string quartet (a Scherzo recently rediscovered in her archive), though it was not until some decades later that she returned to composition in earnest.

Ailsa (with lute) and contemporaries at Durham in the early 1950s

The intervening period was spent teaching and singing, but her musical life took a new turn in 1976 when she undertook a production of Handel’s Theodora. This was an all-consuming project, and left her with such withdrawal symptoms that afterwards, to fill the gap, she began to conceive an opera of her own, Letter to Philemon (based on an episode in the life of St Paul) which was performed in 1984 and proved to be the start of her most fertile period as a composer.

In the following two decades she wrote three works for string quartet (Nocturnal Scherzo, Sohrab and Rustum, and Variations on Love Divine), chamber works including a set of 3 fugues on Biblical subjects, and Airs of the Seasons, a sonata for piano duet (4 hands).  Among her vocal compositions are a variety of songs and duets, including settings of two Shakespeare sonnets for soprano and tenor, a cycle of 5 Songs of Faith and Joy for mezzo soprano and guitar, a set of 3 songs for soprano and string quartet entitled The Spirit of Love, and Shining Cold, a vocalise for high soprano, ondes martenot and strings. 

Many of these works went unperformed in her lifetime, but recent discoveries in her musical archive have stimulated a raft of new performances, including posthumous premieres of Airs of the Seasons at St George’s Bristol in 2018 and The Spirit of Love (in February 2020).  Plans are underway for a recording of her complete works for string quartet by the Villiers Quartet.  Her manuscript scores are now being digitised as part of a project in Finland to preserve the work of neglected female composers, and there are plans to deposit her archive at Heritage Quay, where the British Music Collection is held.

Religious themes are a strong element in Ailsa Dixon’s works, while literary texts (from medieval Latin lyrics to Shakespeare, Matthew Arnold and Walter de la Mare) inspired many of her compositions.  When asked about her musical influences in an interview in the ‘Meet the Artist’ series shortly before she died, she cited ‘Fauré (for his harmonic suppleness), Britten (for his powers of evocation and empathy), and Bartok (studying his compositional processes at Durham stimulated an interest in his lively variations of time signature and the elasticity of musical motifs)’, while observing that ‘the Greats preside over it all’.  Her interest in counterpoint is especially prominent in the three instrumental Fugues and the quartets, and was often deployed to figure the interplay and resolution of conflicting emotions, as in the Nocturnal Scherzo, and a farewell fugue sung by four characters in Letter to Philemon

Frances Wilson wrote of her musical style in a review of Airs of the Seasons, ‘The opening chords… are reminiscent of Debussy and Britten in their distinct timbres, and the entire work has a distinctly impressionistic flavour. Ailsa’s admiration of Fauré … is also evident in the harmonic language, while the idioms of English folksong and hymns, and melodic motifs redolent of John Ireland and the English Romantics remind us that this is most definitely a work by a British composer with an original musical vision.’    

More details at   To subscribe to occasional newsletters featuring recent and upcoming performances of Ailsa Dixon’s works and news on the availability of scores, please use the Contact page on her website.