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Women Composers Festival of Hartford

Hartford, CT         

“…one of the Northeast’s top destinations for hearing new music by living female composers.” (Hartford Advocate)

The Women Composers Festival of Hartford has provided an engaging platform for the promotion of music by women composers for the past sixteen years. Recognized as a champion for women composers by institutions such as Greater Hartford Arts Council, Amphion Foundation, Hoffman Foundation, New Music USA, the International Alliance for Women in Music, and the Women’s Education and Leadership Fund, the festival celebrates the diversity of works by living and historical composers, fostering performance and educational outreach in the Greater Hartford region.  Through an annual festival, we strive to develop awareness of the work of women composers and to support living women composers through performances, professional development, and commissions.

Our  festival brings composers and performers from across the United States and abroad to the Hartford area to celebrate the diversity of music by composers living and historical.  Festival events include concerts, talks, professional development workshops, reading sessions, and masterclasses.  

Each year, our festival hosts a composer-in-residence, who presents their unique musical voice to students of all ages throughout the Greater Hartford region.  Past composers include Andrea ClearfieldCherise LeiterGilda LyonsJudith ShatinHilary TannLisa Coons, and Jessica Meyer.  In recent years, the festival has also been able to support the development of new music by commissioning these guest composers.

We also feature one or more guest ensembles each year.  Past performers have included  Iktus PercussionNautilus Brass Quintet, Cuatro Puntos016 New Music Ensemble, the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, The Curiosity Cabinet EnsembleThe Connecticut TrioThe Dahlia Flute Duo, Oboe Duo Agosto,  Sylvanus Ensemble,and New England Guitar Quartet.  

The 2017 festival, scheduled for March 30–April 2, will feature composer-in-residence Paula Matthusen and ensemble-in-residence forty/sixty.  The Festival will kick off Thursday 3/30 with a concert of music from the women’s suffrage era, featuring a preconcert talk by musicologist Elizabeth Wood.  Our Friday night concert showcases our ensemble-in-residence presenting our new commission by Paula Matthusen alongside works chosen from an international call for scores.  Saturday night’s concert will feature focused on gendered violence, including works by Tawnie Olson,  Jessica Rudman, and Elsa Olivieri-Sangiacomo.  Other events include our WCForum presentations about women composers, a professional development session about publishing and promoting one’s music, a emerging composer reading session with forty/sixty, a day-long marathon of music by women, a concert of children’s choirs from CT and MA, a percussion concert, and talks/masterclasses at local schools.  

2015 Commission: “A Growing Absence” by Lisa Coons

“A Growing Absence”by Lisa Coons was commissioned by the Women Composers Festival of Hartford. The piece was workshopped during the 2015 Festival and premiered as part of our 2016 Music Marathon. The work explores different facets of the guitar through delicate textures and fragile colors, drawing the listener into an intimate and engaging sound world. This excerpt includes the first 10 minutes of the piece

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2016 Commission: “Luminosity” by Jessica Meyer

“Luminosity” is the most recent piece the Festival has commissioned. Composed by Jessica Meyer for the Nautilus Brass Quintet, this lush and celebratory work focuses on the beautiful colors of the brass instruments and pulls the listener along an emotional journey. This work was also premiered in 2016 as the culmination of our Music Marathon.

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WCF 2015: Iktus Percussion performs Angelica Negron’s “Count to Five”

In 2015, one of our ensembles-in-residence was Iktus Percussion, who performed works by Lisa Coons, Elizabeth Comninellis, Yiran Zhao, and Angelica Negron. Negron’s quartet utilizes found objects such as newspapers, playing cards, and wine glasses to create a gradually developing rhythmic groove.

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