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2020 Women Composers Festival – Kate Soper; Gabriela Ortiz; Jessica Krash

A festival of new operas and staged vocal works by living female composers including Kate Soper, Gabriela Ortiz, and Jessica Krash.


In the last two weeks of March 2020, the In Series will mount a festival of operas and staged vocal works by living female composers. Taking place at GALA Hispanic Theatre in Washington, DC with ancillary events at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the centerpiece of the festival will be six performances of two fully staged operas, both local premieres. The first of these is Kate Soper’s “Here Be Sirens”. This remarkable work which blends contemporary music with theatrical dialogue fits the profile of the work created by the In Series, but is meant to introduce our audiences to new music by a living composer, a new step for our organization. The In Series also has a long history of Latin American programming and programming for families. As part of honouring this tradition, the 2020 Women Composers Festival will also include “Ana y Su Sombra” by Gabriela Ortiz, introducing important new music to our young audiences. The festival will also include three performances of a staged concert of vocal chamber music by female composers including Kate Soper’s “Only The Words Themselves Mean What They Say”, Judith Weir’s “King Haralds Saga”, Ana Sokolovic’s “Love Songs” and local composer Jessica Krash’s “Sulpicia’s Songs” and “Cantigas de Amigo”. Through a partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum, the festival will additionally include a concert of works by Olga Neuwirth. Finally the festival culminates with the announcement of a new opera by Jessica Krash to be presented in 2021 as part of the In Series’ 40th anniversary season.

The In Series’ 2019-2020 Lean-IN season culminates with this festival celebrating the brilliance of living female composers – composers who have been under-represented in the classical music scene of the nation’s capital, as well as in the canon of works produced by the In Series. As part of a new vision for the company to radically reshape the image of who makes opera, we have devised a festival that will change our audience’s perceptions. The festival will include partnerships with several international cultural institutes to present concerts of music from past leading female composers (these partnerships include concerts at the Alliance Francaise, the Goethe Institute, the Italian Cultural Center) which lead up to a 10 day festival of living female composer’s musical-dramatic works presented at both GALA Theater and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Artists from the In Series’ core group of artists will perform, produce, design, and direct these 10 performances of 10 works by 6 living female composers. A series of free outreach events will include panels with composers and performers on the role of female composers in today’s new music industry, as well as a public conversation with Anne Midgette of the Washington Post who has championed the catalogue of operatic works by living women composers. All of our performances feature audience talk-back sessions, and “Ana y Su Sombra” will, through a partnership with the DC collaborative, thereafter be offered as a field trip experience to DC Public Schools.

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from Cantigas de Amigo of Martin Codax
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Features: Jessica Krash

Soprano Emily Noel performs with local DC composer Jessica Krash a movement from her reimagining of the Cantigas de Amigo of the Martin Codex, which will receive a premiere staging as part of the 2020 Women Composers Festival. The festival will also include composer Krash’s “Sulpicia’s Songs”, and the announcement of a commissioned full length opera by Krash to be produced in 2021.

Excerpt from “Here be Sirens”
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Features: Kate Soper

This excerpt from the premiere of Kate Soper’s “Here Be Sirens” shows the importance and novelty of this work which will be given its Washington DC premiere in the Women Composer’s Festival. The vibrancy and wit of its opening dialogue expresses an aesthetic for blended spoken and sung text to which the In Series is committed, and the trio that begins at minute 2:11 shows the extreme sensitivity and beauty of Soper’s writing.

Special Feature on Ana y Su Sombra
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Features: Gabriela Ortiz

This special feature on Gabriela Ortiz’s “Ana y Su Sombra” highlights the immediacy and charm of Ortiz’s music. This work is a particular accomplishment as it deals with the issues of youth migration through music. Having a firm presence in the Latin American immigrant community in Washington DC, the In Series hopes to use this work to reach out to young audiences of diverse backgrounds with this music of vitality and poignancy as we offer the Washington, DC premiere of “Ana y Su Sombra” and create a new touring version for DC Public Schools.

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