in: News & Features

March 9, 2017

Women Composers in Stellar Lineup

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Mariana von Martines by Anton von Maron

The Second Annual Alfredo and Dimitra Diluzio Concert will be presented by the Women and Music Mix of the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center on Sunday March 12, at 3pm in the Slosberg Music Auditorium

News about International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month seems to be everywhere—except Boston’s classical music scene. If you want to go beyond the Spotify classical playlist of IWD that starts with “Hildegard von Binge” [sic], if you want to attend a concert that showcases rare and remarkable music by four very different female composers, it’s all happening Sunday afternoon at Brandeis University. Organized by the music scholars of the Women’s Studies Research Center, the second half of the program features two psalm settings by Marianna von Martines (1744-1812). That eminent historian Charles Burney would describe Martines as “having the greatest genius in music” and view her as the embodiment of Saint Cecilia should have meant that the modern musical would would take more note of her music. It has not, but to remedy this situation is one of the goals of the concert.

The psalms In Exitu Israel de Aegypto and Quemadmodum desiderat cervus are performed by the period ensemble Eudaimona, co-led by Vivian Montgomery (harpsichordist and scholar at the WSRC) and violinist Julia McKenzie. That these psalms are both settings of Italian translations (rather than the traditional Latin) reveals Martines’s close association with the philosopher and librettist Metastasio. For Burney, Martines was one of the Muses whose music embodied its equal relationship with words, the relationship that Metastasio espoused. The result is vocal works that are dramatic and sensitive in expressing the nuances of the sacred texts. Montgomery has gathered a stellar band (eight instrumentalists and five singers) for this enterprise, including soprano Kathryn Aaron in a rare Boston-area performance and mezzo Carrie Cheron.

The first half of the program is strikingly different, and also rare. Rhonda Rider (cello) and Sarah Bob (piano) take on Ruth Lomon’s Metamorphosis (1984), a work of piercing intensity (and marked virtuosity) that pushes the expressive vocabulary of the cello. The revered Lomon (b. 1930) is a locally based composer, and another WSRC scholar. Rider and Bob also offer Amy Beach’s meditative Dreaming, written for piano in the late 19th century and later arranged by the composer for cello and piano. It is included in honor of Beach’s 150th anniversary. In between the two works is a selection of songs by Rebecca Clarke, sung by Brian Church (baritone) with Sarah Bob. Clarke has been a research subject of mine for many years (even more than I have been a resident scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center).

3 Comments

  1. At the moment I am listening in at the dress-rehearsal for the Martines and my heart is just absolutely overflowing with how beautiful the music is. It is not hyperbolic to compare it with the best of Mozart, nor to say I think we have some of New England’s finest musicians here (who are sandwiching this performance in between their many, many other gigs).

    Speaking of Mozart, Martines was a friend and colleague of his (they performed four-hand piano works at some of Martines’s famous weekly salons), and she studied with Haydn. The painting by Maron was commemorating Martines’ being admitted to the renowned Bologna’s Accademia Filarmonica in 1773, the first woman to receive that honor. The original painting is in the Vienna Museum.

    Comment by Liane Curtis — March 11, 2017 at 2:21 pm

  2. Those interested in “bingeing” even more on Music by Women are invited to Cappella Clausura’s CARAVAN OF SONG this weekend. CC presents an evocative journey: Troubadour songs of life and longing in the medieval court and convent, paired with exotic settings by Abbie Betinis of poetry by the 14th century Sufi mystic Hâfez. With 6 exquisite voices and guest instrumentalists Carol Lewis (vielle), Olav Chris Henriksen (lute, oud), Na’ama Lion (medieval flute) and George Lernis (percussion). Led by Amelia LeClair. Mar 18 & 19, in Boston and Newton. Clausura.org.

    Comment by Carole Friedman — March 13, 2017 at 2:40 pm

  3. I’m going to be at CARAVAN OF SONG to experience what Cappella Clausura does so well. Director Amelia LeClair provides unique experiences for her concertgoers. Who else lets us be so close, sometimes even inside, the music!

    Comment by Martha Bancroft — March 13, 2017 at 3:50 pm

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