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Ready for All-Female-Composer Album?


Portland-based Palaver Strings, presents Ready Or Not  followed by a composer and musician conversation on YouTube on October 4th at 7PM . The high-quality livestream concert will preview Palaver’s 3rd full-length studio album, which was recorded at Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, scheduled for release beginning in January 2021. The livestream will feature a selection of pieces from Ready Or Not which includes music by all female identifying composers from the Renaissance through present day. Following the performance Akenya Seymour will join Palaver cellist Matthew Smith for a discussion of her piece Fear the Lamb, commissioned by Palaver in 2019

For too long, women have been shunted to the sidelines of history, their voices silenced and their influence minimized. The history of classical music is no exception, and even the most gifted female musicians were discouraged from pursuing professional careers, their work relegated to the footnotes of music history textbooks. Even today as more opportunities open up for female performers, composers, directors, and producers, these systemic injustices persist. Featuring music from the renaissance to the present day, including pieces commissioned and arranged for Palaver Strings, Ready Or Not celebrates the diverse voices and unique artistic visions of women throughout the ages, who have always made music whether the world was ready or not.

As a musician-led string ensemble, Palaver programs concerts and concepts democratically. An alternative version of Ready Or Not was premiered right before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in February 2020. Palaver has pivoted to a virtual season that will run through the duration of the pandemic, featuring weekly ensemble performances, livestream concerts, chamber music, collaboration, and learning. The centerpiece of this season will be recording, editing, distributing and eventually touring the album. Palaver is thrilled to be working with the engineering and production team from Immersive Music Project on this project in addition to workshopping pieces virtually with featured composers, Akenya Seymour, Liz Knowles, Elizabeth Moore and Anna Clyne.

On Sunday, October 4th you will hear a preview of the pieces featured on the album including Akenya Seymour’s Fear the Lamb, Grazyna Bacewicz’s Concerto for Strings, Maddalena Casulana’s madrigal Morir non puo mio cuore, and a rocking traditional fiddle set by Liz Knowles and Palaver violist, Elizabeth Moore.  The repertoire on this album has been curated by the ensemble to fit the voicing of the 13-piece string orchestra while exploring a vast array of musical styles and sounds. Seymour’s Fear the Lamb depicts the story of Emmet Till’s death in a jarring, jazzy and beautiful three movement piece ranging from exploring the sounds of Chicago where he was born to a hymnal solo section for his funeral in Mississippi where he was murdered. Casulana’s madrigal is believed to be in one of the first published books of female composers and features a five part (added bass) vocal polyphony that compares the acts of love and death. The Concerto for Strings by Bacewicz is energetic, virtuosic and orchestral featuring eastern European harmony and alternating solo lines. Finally the fiddle set features a waltz, a reel and a jig written and arranged collaboratively by Elizabeth Moore and fiddler, Liz Knowles. The set takes an Irish stylistic approach with Moore’s beautiful harmonies, rhythmic material, and lilt added throughout. 

Palaver ensemble by Christine Wnek

The ensemble will release Ready Or Not in the form of single tracks from January-May 2021 with the entire album slated for release in June 2021. A few of the tracks on the album will be excluded from the livestream on October 4th. Palaver hopes to transmit the release of Ready Or Not to new communities, while finally sharing the voices of incredible female composers. 

Palaver Strings, a musician-led string ensemble and nonprofit organization, takes as its mission the strengthening and inspiring community through music. Palaver’s musicians share artistic and administrative leadership, guided by a passion for engaging new audiences, addressing social justice issues, and amplifying underrepresented voices through classical music. Each year, Palaver presents over 40 live performances featuring diverse musical programming, cross-genre projects, and community collaborations. Equally committed to education, Palaver offers music instruction to over 325 students per year through the Palaver Music Center. 

By Maya French, Managing Director & Co-Artistic Director

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