New album celebrates Australian female composers
ABC Classic has just released Women of Note, Volume 5, an annual celebration of Australia’s female composers. Six of the seven composers are either students, graduates or highly-esteemed staff members at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Women of Note includes works from acclaimed composers Professor Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO, who was recently appointed the Elizabeth Todd Chair (Vocal Studies) at the Con and distinguished composer and music educator, Emerita Professor Anne Boyd AM.
Rising composers on the album include recent graduate Christine Pan, who studied Composition and works on many interdisciplinary projects with a strong passion for powerful storytelling; Masters student Heather Percy, a composer and music educator with a focus on choral music, and Elizabeth Younan and Ella Macens, both graduates of the Composing Women program.
I feel so blessed to be part of an album with inspiring women composers who can demonstrate what it means to explore and extend the boundaries of what music could be.
Professor Anna Reid, Dean of the Con said: “The SCM is so proud of being a part of the career trajectory of these astonishing women. Their voices are bright and extraordinary and collectively they convey the beauty and power of music for our generation.”
The album also features Marlene Cummins, one of Australia's foremost Indigenous female blues songwriters and performers.
Released to coincide with International Women’s Day (8 March), Women of Note presents music from five rising stars in the Australian art music scene – Christine Pan, Heather Percy, Ella Macens, Marlene Cummins and Elizabeth Younan – plus two of the most respected women composing today: Anne Boyd and Deborah Cheetham Fraillon.
The collection also reflects a broad range of cultures, including composers of Chinese, Lebanese, Latvian and Indigenous heritage.
Christine Pan’s musical language intertwines Australian and Asian musical aesthetics. In Motions of Equinox she finds an unexpected meeting point between human relationships and the laws of physics in the twists and glides of figure skating. Heather Percy has a particular affinity for choral music, drawing on her own extensive experience as a director of choirs and music educator. In Three Night Songs she captures images of night through poetry of past and contemporary female poets.
Ella Macens’ work integrates elements of her Latvian heritage, especially its powerful relationship to song, with her love of both popular and classical music. Her string quartet A Love Worth Fighting For is a healing exploration of the experiences of change and loss. Elizabeth Younan, a graduate of the Curtis Institute in the US – the first Australian composer admitted in the institute’s 99-year history – fuses her Lebanese heritage with elements of the Baroque in her joyous dance triptych The Fertile Crescent.
The transparency, gentleness and delicacy of Anne Boyd’s music style reflects her long involvement with the music of Japan and Indonesia, over more than 40 years. In Beside Bamboo, she blends the sound world of the traditional Balinese flute with the sonic possibilities of the saxophone.
Yorta Yorta composer Deborah Cheetham Fraillon offers us a richer perspective on a familiar moment in Australia’s history by introducing us to Bungaree, the Indigenous man who helped chart the coastline of Australia alongside Matthew Flinders. Indigenous composer, radio presenter and blues saxophonist Marlene Cummins brings her in-depth knowledge of jazz to Starting Over, a laid-back tribute to new beginnings.
Women of Note: buy or stream the album here
This article was first published on ABC Classic. Hero Image: Ester Maria Photography.