Women in Music Festival

2008 Composer Biographies

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2008 Composer Biographies

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Composer Biographies

Nancy Van de Vate
Ruby Aspinall
Grazyna Bacewicz
Lindsay Warren Baker
Eryn Bauer
Jennifer Bellor
Amy Michelle Black
Megan Bledsoe
Settimia Caccini
Judith Cloud
Jeanne Demessieux
Marie Bernadette Dufourcet-Hakim
Michaela Eremiasova
Helen Gifford
Beata Golec
Amanda Jacobs
Margaretha Christina de Jong
Jeanne Joulain
Jung Sun Kang
Elizabeth A Kelly
Tonia Ko
Libby Larsen
Alexina Louie
Marian McPartland
Lavinia Kell Parker
Clara Pickup
Marta García Renart
Kaija Saariaho
Clara Schumann
Erica Seguine
Angela Brownell Smith
Elizabeth Spector
Susan Stoderl
Margaret Sutherland
Hilary Tann
Laura Hewitt Whipple
Barbara York

Nancy Van de Vate – Composer-in-Residence | b. 1930

American-born but now living in Austria, Nancy Van de Vate is known internationally for her orchestral, solo, and chamber music and is most famous for her Pulitzer Prize-nominated operas All Quiet on the Western Front and Where the Cross is Made. In 2005, Where the Cross is Made also was the winner of the National Opera Association’s biennial competition for new chamber operas. Van de Vate has composed more than 130 works in virtually all forms, earning eight Pulitzer Prize and five Grawemeyer Award nominations. Her 26 orchestral works include Chernobyl, which was nominated for a 1989 Koussevitsky International Record Award.

Van de Vate founded the International League of Women Composers in 1975 and supports the work of women composers with the Nancy Van de Vate International Composition Prize for Opera. She also includes many works by women composers on her Vienna Modern Masters label, an international recording company which she co-founded in 1990. She also has ties with Eastman since she attended the school in the 1948-49 academic year as a first-year piano major studying with Cécile Genhart before transferring to Wellesley College. She returned to Eastman in the summer of 1950 to continue her studies with Cécile Genhart.


Ruby Aspinall  |  b. 1980

At age seventeen, composer and harpist Ruby Aspinall was honored with the first prize for the Young Composer’s Award of Wales. As a soloist and chamber musician, she has performed in numerous venues, including Buckingham Palace and the Royal Festival Hall. She is also a member of the Amadio Duo. She studied harp at the Trinity College of Music where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree.


Grażyna Bacewicz  |  1909-1969

Composer and violinist Grażyna Bacewicz was the first female Polish composer to receive international acclaim. She studied composition with Nadia Boulanger and violin with Carl Flesch, and she was the principal violinist of the Polish Radio Orchestra when she was just in her 20s. Her compositions grew to worldwide renown, including her Concerto for String Orchestra which was performed by the National Symphony in 1950.


Lindsay Warren Baker  |  b. 1976

Lindsay Baker studied theater and music at St. Olaf College and trained at the O’Neill National Theater Institute (Waterford, CT) and Moscow Art Theater (Russia). In addition to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice: A Musical Play, she co-authored the book DANIEL: The Musical and has developed original theatrical pieces: “Thirst,” “Train of Thought,” “Cirque Mystère: The Fairy Element.” Her directing credits include A Way Out of Madness, Anne of Green Gables, Molly’s Dream and The Telephone. She teaches theater and music and is the Production Stage Manager of Eastman Opera Theatre.


Eryn Bauer  |  b. 1988

Eryn Bauer is a sophomore at the Eastman School of Music studying for a bachelor’s degree in Applied Music. She made her solo debut at the age of seventeen with the Tampa Bay Symphony in the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. She has attended Kinhaven Music School and the Sarasota Music Festival. Her bassoon quartet, Ambience, was premiered in the Palladium Theatre in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2006.


Jennifer Bellor  |  b. 1983

Jennifer Bellor holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Cornell University, a master’s degree in composition from Syracuse University, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in music composition at the Eastman School of Music. At Eastman, she holds a teaching assistantship as a composition teacher for non-majors, and is a recipient of the Samuel Adler scholarship. Currently, she is studying with David Liptak. Her former composition teachers include Steven Stucky, Sally Lamb, and Andrew Waggoner.


Amy Michelle Black  |  b. 1971

Amy Michelle Black studied composition at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, graduating in 1996. Her suite Tree Modes won Iowa State University’s Carillon Composition Competition in 1995.


Megan Bledsoe  |  b. 1985

Composer and harpist Megan Bledsoe was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, where she performed with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Anchorage Opera, and Anchorage Civic Orchestra. Megan was named Young Alaskan Artist of the Year in 2007 and received her Performer’s Certificate at the Eastman School of Music. She is a senior at Eastman and studies harp with Kathleen Bride and composition with Jennifer Bellor.


Judith Cloud  |  b. 1954

Judith Cloud is a composer and mezzo–soprano soloist who has performed widely, premiering many new works by young composers as well as her own music. The Northern Arizona University (NAU) Men’s Chorus recently commissioned and performed Philsophia Perennis for men;s chorus, mezzo, flugelhorn, and piano, and the Shrine of the Ages Choir recently performed Long, long ago. She received performance degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts and Florida State University, and is Coordinator of Voice at NAU, where she teaches studio voice and vocal pedagogy.


Settimia Caccini  |  1591- c.1638

Settimia Caccini was an Italian composer and singer, the youngest daughter of composer Giulio Caccini and singer Lucia Gagnolanti, who died when Settimia was very young. Settimia’s sister Francesca was a composer and singer, and her other sister Pompeo was a singer. Settimia started her musical education at an early age, going on to become a successful singer and composer.


Jeanne Marie-Madeleine Demessieux  |  1921 – 1968

In 1933, young Jeanne Demessieux enrolled at the Paris Conservatory, studying piano, harmony, counterpoint and fugue, and composition. That year she was also appointed organist at St. Esprit. She studied organ with Marcel Dupré and won first prize in organ performance and improvisation in 1941. She played more than 700 concerts in Europe and the U.S., memorizing over 2,500 works. In 1962, she was appointed organist at La Madeleine in Paris. Having always combated a fragile health, she was obliged to limit her performance activities in the mid-1960s. Her untimely death came in 1968.


Marie Bernadette Dufourcet-Hakim

Marie-Bernadette Dufourcet is a Docteur des Lettres from the Sorbonne and professor of music at the University of Bordeaux. Successively pupil of Marie-Claire Alain and Jean Langlais for organ, she continued in organ and improvisation at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique of Paris with Rolande Falcinelli, winning first prizes in organ, improvisation, and harmony. She also holds a licentiate from the Trinity College of Music in London. As a musicologist, she specializes in 16th- to 17th-century compositional technique. She is also active as a composer and organist of Notre-Dame-des-Champs in Paris.


Michaela Eremiasova  |  b. 1974

Czech composer Michaela Eremiasova studied composition at the Conservatory of Jaroslav Jezek, jazz composition at the Berklee College of Music, and musicology at Charles’ University in Prague. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in composition at the Eastman School of Music. Michaela has earned awards at Berklee and Eastman and garnered international recognition for her electroacoustic score for All That Remains, an experimental short film. Her commissions include works for the Novus Trombone Quartet, The Commission Project, and the Robert G. Boehmler Foundation. She is a finalist in Europe’s largest choral composition competition, Associazione “C. A. Seghizzi”.


Helen Gifford  |  b. 1935

Helen Gifford studied piano and harmony on a Commonwealth Scholarship at the Melbourne University Conservatorium. From1970 to1982, she received regular commissions to write music for Melbourne Theatre Company productions by Brecht, Congreve, Shaffer, Shakespeare, Sophocles, Stoppard, and Tourneur. In 1974, she was appointed Composer-in Residence to the Australian Opera. In 1999 she completed a 50-minute work for choir and instruments commissioned by Astra, Choral Scenes: the Western Front, World War I, a setting of verse from that time in English, French, and German. A heightened use of percussive sounds and extended pitch textures characterizes her music.


Beata E. Golec  |  b. 1981

Pianist and composer Beata E. Golec was named the Artist of the Month by the directors of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition (she won the competition twice – in 2005 and 2006). Beata’s newest album, consisting of her original compositions as well as works by J. L. Zaimont, A. Pärt, and W. A. Mozart, was released in 2007. Her concert schedule includes more than forty engagements annually. Beata debuted at Carnegie Hall in May 2005 and was invited to perform there again in 2006. More info: www.beatagolec.us | CD Baby | Black Dog Records


Amanda Jacobs  |  b. 1962

Amanda Jacobs studied piano performance at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and pursued graduate studies in piano pedagogy, voice, jazz theory, and organ. For years she taught piano and performed as a chamber musician and for church services. Relocating to Rochester in 1996, she composed DANIEL: The Musical, a project that revealed her flair for orchestral composition. She orchestrated the Ohio Light Opera’s revival of Sigmund Romberg’s Maytime and its 2006 premiere of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice: A Musical Play. Jacobs also scores for film and animation and teaches vocal music.

Margaretha Christina de Jong  |  b. 1961

Born in the Netherlands, Margaretha Christina de Jong graduated from the Rotterdam Conservatory with highest distinction in Organ and Church Music. She studied with Guy Bovet, Jean Langlais, and Marie-Louise Jaquet-Langlais in Paris and earned the Prix de Virtuosité with highest distinction. She has won First Prizes at international organ competitions and a silver medallion from the Société Académique “Arts – Sciences – Lettres.” Music director and organist of the Nieuwe Kerk and Organ Professor at the Roosevelt Academy in Middelburg, the Netherlands, she is active as a concert organist and composer.


Jeanne Joulain  |  b. 1920

Jeanne Joulain is an organist and professor at the conservatories of Roubaix, Lille, and Amiens in France. She has concertized extensively in France and abroad, including at the cathedrals of Chartres and Saint-Sulpice. During her studies at the Paris Conservatory, she won the prix de composition and premier prix in organ as a student of Guy de Lioncourt and Marcel Dupré. She has published several organ pieces and reconstituted improvisations by Pierre Cochereau. Joulain is organist of the Church of Saint-Maurice in Lille.


Jung Sun Kang  |  b. 1983

Jung Sun Kang studied composition with Robert Morris, Mario Davidovsky, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, and Eugene Lee. In her native South Korea, she studied composition, piano, and traditional Asian music at Ewha Women’s University. For the M.M. degree at Eastman, she studies composition with David Liptak and harpsichord with William Porter. She creates simple, bold new soundscapes and has written for Western, Korean, and Japanese ensembles and electronics. Driven by a sense of responsibility to give life to new music by playing it, she has a broad repertoire ranging from the twentieth century to today.


Elizabeth Kelly  |  b. 1982

Elizabeth Kelly is a PhD student in composition at the Eastman School of Music. The recipient of a Sproull fellowship from the University of Rochester and a Javits fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education for her current studies, she also holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Michigan. Her works have been performed by orchestras, wind ensembles and chamber groups throughout the United States and Europe.

Tonia Ko  |  b. 1988

Tonia Ko was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in composition at the Eastman School of Music, where she also studies piano with Vincent Lenti. As a freshman, she won the department’s Lois Lane Prize for “excellence in composition.” Her works are frequently premiered at Eastman’s Composers’ Forums. Her major teachers include Donald Womack, David Liptak, and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez.

Libby Larsen  |  b. 1950

Libby Larsen has been praised as “the only English-speaking composer since Benjamin Britten who matches great verse with fine music so intelligently and expressively” (USA Today). She has written over two hundred pieces of music in nearly every major genre, from chamber music and song cycles, to large-scale orchestral and choral pieces. Well-known and highly regarded, Ms. Larsen is a composer whose works have become standard in the classical music repertory.

Alexina Louie  |  b. 1949

Alexina Louie is a Canadian composer of Chinese descent who has written many works for orchestra, as well as solo piano. She received a B.M. in Music History from the University of British Columbia and an M.A. in Composition from the University of California, San Diego. She taught piano, theory and electronic composition in Pasadena and Los Angeles until 1980. She has since lived in Toronto, thriving on a constant stream of commissions in virtually every major genre. She was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2001.

Marian McPartland  |  b. 1918

British jazz pianist and violinist Marian McPartland is host of Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz on National Public Radio (NPR). She pursued classical studies at the Guildhall School of Music in London, but left to join the Claviers, a four-piano vaudeville act. The group toured Europe during World War II. She started her own record label, Halcyon, and in 1964 launched a weekly radio program featuring recordings and interviews with guests on WBAI-FM (New York City). It paved the way for Piano Jazz, which began in 1978 and is NPR’s longest-running cultural program.

Lavinia Kell Parker  |  b. 1977

Lavinia Parker has been featured in festivals and benefit concerts in Canada, the U.S., and France. Recent performances include choral works by the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir, the Toronto Amadeus Choir, and the New York Treble Singers. White Lights In Darkness for chorus and organ won the 2007 Ruth Watson Henderson Competition. Lavinia has an avid interest in performance art and has improvised at the Open Ears Music Festival and Musique Maintenant (Paris). With her husband Brad, she directs the Brockport First Baptist Choir and plays in a “pots and pans band” with their two preschoolers.

Catherine Pickup  |  b. 1973

Catherine Pickup is a choreographer, composer, and multimedia performer in Toronto. Her works literally demonstrate the necessary coexistence of music and movement, experimenting with the use of gesture to create sound. “One Woman — Manipulating Boundaries,” premiered at the Toronto Music Gallery, included instruments she created out of scrap metal. Presently, she performs in the early music ensemble Revelance, and writes songs and plays piano in an improv-based group Simple Partial. She earned her B.A. and M.A. from York University in Dance and holds a BMus in composition from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Marta García Renart  |  b. 1942

Marta Renart was born in Mexico, the daughter of refugees of the Spanish Civil War. She attended the Curtis Institute as a student of Rudolf Serkin. Active as a pianist, composer, and teacher, she is one of the most widely respected and sought-after pianists in Mexico. Since 1985 she has been resident pianist at the Chamber Music Festival of San Miguel Allende, and has performed with the Fine Arts, Manhattan, Lark, Latin American, and Ying Quartets. She has played extensively in the U.S. and Latin America, and is featured on numerous recordings.

Kaija Saariaho  |  b. 1952

Kaija Saariaho studied composition in Helsinki, Freiburg and Paris, where she currently lives. Her research at IRCAM has been a major influence on her music, and her luxuriant and mysterious textures are often created with live music and electronics. Following many chamber works, she has turned increasingly to larger forces and broader structures, such as the opera L’amour de loin, premiered at the 2000 Salzburg Festival, and Oltra mar for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic. Carnegie commissioned her second string quartet, Terra Memoria, for the Emerson Quartet.

Clara Schumann  |  1819-1896

Hailed as Europe’s “Queen of Piano,” composer-pianist Clara Schumann began writing music at the age of nine. Her sixty-six works include songs, partsongs, pieces for piano and orchestra, pieces for solo piano, and cadenzas for piano concertos. Greatly admired by her contemporaries, Ms. Schumann was awarded the title of “Royal and Imperial Chamber Virtuosa, With Great Distinction” in Vienna, by the Emperor.

Erica Seguine  |  b. 1987

Erica Seguine’s music has been performed by numerous groups, including the Eastman Jazz Ensemble and the Empire State Youth Jazz Ensemble. In 2004, her “Trio for Flute, Oboe, and Piano” was selected to be performed at the Young Composers’ Honors Concert. She is a student at the Eastman School of Music pursuing a B.M. degree in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media with a concentration in composition. Her teachers include Bill Dobbins for jazz composition and Harold Danko for jazz piano.

Angela Brownell Smith  |  b. 1969

Angela Brownell Smith grew to love music while listening to her mother’s Southern Gospel trio rehearsals in their home in Greenville, Mississippi. She has written works for piano, chamber ensembles, orchestra, concert band, carillon, and women’s choir, and her music has been performed across the U.S., internationally, and on public radio. Smith completed her doctorate at the University of South Carolina and has taught at Belmont University and Spelman College. She resides with her husband, Chandler, two-year-old daughter, Abigail, and pre-born child in Marietta, Georgia, where she serves as a worship leader at their church.

Elizabeth Spector

Elizabeth Spector is an undergraduate oboist at the Eastman School of Music.

Susan Stoderl  |  b. 1951

Susan Stoderl began composing at the age of fifty. Her first compositions were premiered in 2002 on a program of works in progress by women. Her first opera, A.F.R.A.I.D., was featured in the New York International Fringe Festival and, expanded into two acts, continued in a ten-month run at Brooklyn Repertory Opera. Her newest opera, The Veil of Forgetfulness, was presented in a concert reading in 2007, and her third opera, One Summer Day, is nearing completion.

Margaret Sutherland  |  1897 – 1984

Australian composer Margaret Sutherland was a pioneer in new music and women’s involvement in music. She wrote over 90 compositions, including Young Kabbarli, the first Australian opera recorded in Australia. Her activities included helping lead the Combined Arts Centre Movement in Melbourne after World War II and the National Gallery Association of Victoria. She was recognized with an honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Melbourne and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and an Officer of the Order of Australia.

Hilary Tann  |  b. 1947

Now residing in America, Welsh composer Hilary Tann draws much of her compositional inspiration from nature. She was schooled at the University of Wales at Cardiff and at Princeton University, and she has composed a number of works that reflect her deep interest in Japan. She chairs the Department of Performing Arts at Union College in Schenectady, and since 1989, her music has been exclusively published by Oxford University Press.


Laura Hewitt Whipple  |  1920-2005

Laura Hewitt Whipple had attained two degrees from the Eastman School of Music (1942) before learning to play the carillon. She eventually became University Carillonneur and Lecturer in Music at Sewanee: The University of the South, where she worked until 2003. Feisty, independent, and compassionate, she left a prolific collection of original carillon music, some of it quite playful, as well as arrangements of hymns and folk tunes to enrich practical carillon repertoire.

Barbara York  |  b. 1949

Barbara York has worked in Canada and the U.S. as a concert accompanist, choral and theatrical music director, and composer. She has received commissions from two Canadian symphony orchestras, the Boise State University Symphonic Winds, and the BSU Symphony Orchestra. Her 50-minute scripted children’s piece, A Butterfly in Time, was recently recorded and nominated for a Juno Award. Her first tuba piece, Sea Dreams, was on the required repertoire list for the International Tuba Euphonium Association’s 2004 Young Artists Competition.

– Compiled and edited by Tiffany Ng and Sophia Ahmad

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Dr. Sylvie Beaudette, Festival Director
Tiffany Ng, Assistant Director