Women's History Month

black-an-white formal photo of Harriet Neff Murphy
Ronald Murphy

A piece of music written more than 70 years ago by an Ohio composer but only recently brought to light will finally be heard this Saturday and Tuesday evenings on Classical 101, as part of  Women of NoteThe American Sound’s celebration of women composers during Women’s History Month.

color photo of the members of Monarch Brass standing outdoors and holding their instruments
Jan Duga / myiwbc.org

“The monarch butterfly is fragile and yet can fly 2,000 miles to get from point A to point B,” said Susan Slaughter, former principal trumpeter with the St. Louis Symphony, in a recent phone interview. “It’s beautiful to look at, and the sound that we want to make is a beautiful sound.”

As the first woman ever appointed principal trumpet in a major American orchestra, Slaughter knows all too well how far point A can be from point B for many aspiring professional women brass musicians. She founded the International Women’s Brass Conference and Monarch Brass to help women brass instrumentalists on their sometimes treacherous journeys in the profession.

color photo of the members of Genghis Barbie with their horns
Spencer Lloyd / genghisbarbie.com

It’s 2009, and the Great Recession is draining bank accounts and devouring dreams everywhere. In New York City, four freelance French horn players suddenly find themselves out of work and wondering what to do next.

“It kind of came to me in this random moment—I was like, ‘Oh, my God, we have to have a horn quartet with these four people and play pop music.’” 

color photograph of Carol Jantsch wearing a short black dress, and sitting next to her tuba
Christopher Kadish / publicity photo

Ask Carol Jantsch, principal tuba player with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the first woman ever to hold the tuba position with a major orchestra, if anyone during the early years of her tuba studies ever discouraged her from playing the tuba because she was a girl, and her answer might surprise you.

color photo of two library shelves containing children's books
San Jose Library/Creative Commons/Flickr

If you had taken your daughter to an orchestra concert fifty years ago, almost all of the musicians she would see on stage would have been men. Not anymore.

All this month, during Women’s History Month, The American Sound will feature performances by noted American women conductors and online stories showcasing the conductors’ careers and accomplishments. Tune in Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on Classical 101, and follow this blog as the series unfolds.