Question: How can music by women composers be performed on more concerts?
Answer: Perform it.
That’s what the Columbus-based string quartet Chamber Brews is doing. And they're joining a growing number of professional ensembles in their quest to showcase music by composers who, by virtue of their sex, their race and/or their socioeconomic background, have traditionally been underrepresented on classical music concerts.
Just as Chamber Brews strives to bring classical music into non-traditional venues, the quartet also aims to make sure the composers represented on their programs reflect the diversity of 21st-century classical musicians and the 21st-century audiences they wish to reach.
“Our decision to program many female composers is really a commitment to promoting and playing works by people that look a lot more like we do, ” said violinist and Chamber Brews co-director Devin Copfer. “And for me personally it’s about finding representation with creators, so that I can then find my voice within this work.”
Chamber Brews will set both aspects of its mission in motion when the quartet performs Redefining Space, a concert of music by women composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 at Snowden Gray Mansion in downtown Columbus.
Snowden Gray Mansion has long been home to some of Columbus’ noted jazz acts. The mansion’s Grand Parlor will create an unusual and intimate backdrop for works by Laurie Anderson, Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, Dutch-Jewish composer Henriette Bosmans and other noted women artists.
The music and the story of the little-known Bosmans resonated especially strongly with Chamber Brews.
“Around World War II, (Bosmans’) music was actually banned,” Copfer said. “She made a living creating intimate house concerts. And that’s what we are doing – we’re creating music in spaces that are perhaps a little unconventional for string quartets and a little more intimate – so the fact that she was defining her space and where her music could be performed, that was actually really empowering for us as a group.”
There has arguably never been a better time to showcase music by women composers. The year 2020 will see the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and, even back in 2017, this coming year was hailed in the realm of politics as “The Year of the Woman.”
Watch the video above to hear Chamber Brews perform selections from Redefining Space, music by female composers in the 20th and 21st centuries. Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 in Snowden Gray Mansion.