Great Mistresses: Annette Morreau on Three Women Taking Up the Baton in Another Male-Dominated World

By Morreau, Annette | New Statesman (1996), August 25, 2003 | Go to article overview

Great Mistresses: Annette Morreau on Three Women Taking Up the Baton in Another Male-Dominated World


Morreau, Annette, New Statesman (1996)


Can this be a record? Three works by living female composers (all English premieres), performed within ten days at the BBC Proms, the composers being Judith Weir, Sally Beamish and the American Libby Larsen.

Weir's delightful The Welcome Arrival of Rain, commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra and premiered in the US earlier this year, is something of a return to the sound and wry wit of her earlier Chinese works, most notably A Night at the Chinese Opera. The title of Weir's new work was inspired by the Bhagavata Purana, a Hindu text in which a number of verses celebrate the arrival of the monsoon. Sally Beamish's Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, commissioned and performed by the gallant National Youth Orchestra of Scotland in tropical heat, is in three movements, with wonderful bluesy writing for the astonishing Swedish trumpeter Hakan Hardenberger. Beamish always knows where she's going, pacing her work well. Larsen's I It Am: the shewings of Julian of Norwich, for soloists, choir and orchestra, was co-commissioned by the BBC. Of the three works, it was the least effective, in part hampered by a rather New Agey text that tended to obfuscate rather than clarify.

In the current season of proms, five works by living female composers will be performed, compared to 31 works by living male composers. In 2002, the ratio was four to 32; in 2001, it was three to 25. The statistics are not good. But can or should creativity ever be subject to quotas? Is there a case for "equal opportunity" or "affirmative action"? Equal opportunity implies a level playing field; affirmative action suggests a conscious leg-up. So how desirable is this to those most likely to benefit?

Weir is Britain's most senior female composer, if not simply one of our most senior composers. The prestigious positions she has held include composer in association with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, visiting professor at Oxford and Princeton universities, and artistic director of the Spitalfields Festival. She has recently been invited to Harvard. But confidence in her work did not come easily, especially given the "expectations that composers are going to be men". In her view, choosing pieces for concerts on the basis of gender can never work. "What I've achieved has been through long years of hard work. I would be horrified to feel that my achievements had come about because people felt that they had to improve their quotas."

Sally Beamish holds similar views: "I have twice turned down commissioners that were specifically looking for a woman composer. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Great Mistresses: Annette Morreau on Three Women Taking Up the Baton in Another Male-Dominated World
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.