Women in Music Festival

2010 Composer Biographies

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2010 Composer Biographies

Composer Biographies

(in alphabetical order)

Amy Marcy Beach  |  1867-1944
Composer and pianist Amy Beach wrote over 300 works in a variety of genres. Considered the foremost American female composer of her time, she was highly disciplined and known for her ability to create large-scale pieces rapidly. Primarily self-taught, Ms. Beach received critical acclaim not only in the United States, but also in Europe. Her compositional style has been described as both Romantic and post-Romantic.

Mademoiselle Bocquet  |  early 17th century–after 1660
Mlle Bocquet (either Anne or Marguerite) was a French lutenist and composer.  She ran a Salon with a Mlle de Scudéry from 1653–1659.  She was in contact with members and founders of the Académie française.  Bocquet’s compositions explore the chromatic possibilities of the lute, with preludes in every key.  Her music is also in French, German, and English manuscripts of the second half of the 17th century.

Lili Boulanger  |  1893-1918
French composer Lili Boulanger began musical studies at the age of three, and with the composer accompanying her, she sight-read Fauré songs a few years later. At nineteen, she caught the world’s attention by becoming the first woman to win the Prix de Rome (for her cantata Faust et Hélène). Although she was awarded a year of study in Rome, her stay was shortened due to poor health, and she died of tuberculosis at age twenty-five. In her short life, she composed more than fifty works.

Francesca Caccini  1587-1641
Francesca Caccini was an Italian composer, singer, lutenist, poet, and music teacher of the early Baroque era. She was the daughter of Giulio Caccini, and was one of the best-known and most influential female European composers between Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century and the 19th century. Her stage work, La liberazione di Ruggiero, has been widely considered the first opera by a woman composer.

Rebecca Clarke  |  1886-1979
English-born composer Rebecca Clarke began composing at age sixteen and was the first woman composer to win the celebrated Mendelssohn Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. An accomplished violist, she played chamber music with Hess, Casals, Thibaud, Szell, Rubinstein, Schnabel, Monteux and Grainger, among others. Her oeuvre includes fifty-eight vocal works and twenty-four instrumental works.

Christine Donkin  |  b. 1976
Christine Donkin completed a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Alberta in 1999, and a Master of Music degree at the University of British Columbia in 2003.  She studied composition with Stephen Chatman, Howard Bashaw, Malcolm Forsyth, and Allan Gilliland.  She is currently a private instructor of piano and elementary-level violin, as well as a composer of mostly piano, choral, and chamber music.  For more information visit www.christinedonkin.com

Johanna Eränkö  |  b. ____
Johanna Eränkö began her composition study since 2003, with Jouni Kaipainen and Juhani Nuorvala.  She attended the Sannäs composition course in summer 2003 and 2004, at which the teachers were Jouni Kaipainen and Magnus Lindberg.  She also took part to a composition course in 2004 in Seinäjoki were the teacher was Kimmo Hakola.  Her works has been performed in different festivals in Finland, including Tampere Biennale, Musica Nova, Korvat Auki! (Ears Open!), October of Contemporary Music in Oulu.  Johanna Eränkö has mainly composed chamber music to various combinations.

Jocelyn Hagen  |  b. 1980
Jocelyn Hagen, a native of Valley City, North Dakota, composes music that has been described as “dramatic and deeply moving” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis/St. Paul).  Her first forays into composition were via songwriting, and this is very evident in her work.  Her music is melodically driven, boldly beautiful, and intricately crafted.  Since her graduation from St. Olaf College in 2003, Jocelyn has received over 20 commissions, 30 premieres, and 80 performances.  Visit www.jocelynhagen.com for more information.

Billie Holiday  |  1915-1959
Ms. Holiday made her singing debut in Harlem nightclubs and speakeasies, and was noticed by the likes of Count Basie, Artie Shaw, and Benny Goodman. Although she recorded over two hundred “sides” between 1933 and 1944, she never received royalties for any of them.  Ms. Holiday had no musical training, yet her unique style, harmonization, diction, phrasing, and dramatic intuition made her one of the leading jazz singers of the time. Ms. Holiday died an early death at the age of forty-four.

Katherine Hoover  |  b. 1947
Composer, conductor, and flutist, Katherine Hoover is the recipient of a National Endowment Composer’s Fellowship and many other awards, including an Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Composition. Her works are published by Theodore Presser, Carl Fischer, and Papagena Press.  Ms. Hoover attended the Eastman School of Music, and also holds a Masters degree in Music Theory from the Manhattan School of Music, where she also taught.

Amanda Jacobs  |  b. 1962   &  Lindsay Baker  |  b. 1976
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.

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.

Loretta Jankowski  |  b. 1950
Loretta Jankowski holds a B.M. degree in composition from the Eastman School of Music, where her teachers were Samuel Adler, Warren Benson and Joseph Schwantner, a M.M. degree in composition in 1974 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she studied composition with William Albright and electronic music with George Wilson, and a Ph.D. in composition, theory and music history from Eastman School of Music. She won the Women’s Association for Symphony Orchestras music award in 1977 and a Meet the Composer grant in 1980.

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.

Lori Laitman  |  b. 1955
Since 1991, American composer Lori Laitman has been writing primarily for voice, however, her works include music for film, theatre, and chamber music as well. Regarding her pieces, Opera News says, “It’s a treat to hear contemporary art songs that showcase the voice as flatteringly as these, and which retain individuality and surprise without sacrificing accessibility.” Ms. Laitman’s pieces have been heard in venues such as Weill Recital Hall and Alice Tully Hall (New York), and The Kennedy Center (D.C.).

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.

Hannah Lash  |  b. 1981
Hannah Lash lives and writes in New York City.  She has had her music performed by such ensembles as the American Modern Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, The Arditti Quartet, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, and others.  She has been in residence at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, Chamber Music Festival and Composer Forum of the East; and has received prizes, awards, and commissions from such sources as the BMI Women’s Music Commission, Howard Hanson Commissioning Fund, and Harvard University’s Orchestral Prize.  Lash is currently a candidate for the PhD in music (composition) at Harvard University, expecting to receive her degree in May of 2010.

Ellen Lindquist  |  b. 1870
The music of Ellen Lindquist is performed regularly throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, and has also been performed in South Korea, the Philippines, and South Africa. Discovery of unique sound-worlds through collaboration is central in much of Ellen’s work; several of her pieces are collaborative projects involving dance, theater, poetry, and performance art. Ellen’s work has been heard at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The United Nations, and The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (New York), and most recently in Sweden at The Västerås Konserthus. A deep respect for and love of the natural world is reflected in her work.

Carrie Magin  |  b. 1981
Carrie Magin holds two Bachelor’s Degrees (composition/percussion) from the University of Michigan and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Composition from the University of Cincinnati. Ms. Magin has had successful performances in both the United States and Europe. Her recent compositions include an orchestral commission from the Akron Youth Symphony to be premiered in May 2010, Charrette for Duo46 (violin and guitar) and Špilberk (marimba duo), which was composed/performed under the guidance of Keiko Abe in Villecroze, France.

Whitney Marchelle  |  b. 1960
Whitney Marchelle has received several awards from SONG OF THE YEAR Singer Songwriters contest, WE ARE LISTENING Singer Songwriters Contest, BILLBOARD Songwriters contest.  Articles recently appeared in the JazzTimes Magazine about her nationally distributed CD entitled, ME, MARSALIS & MONK.  The CD often airs on local stations XM Radio,105.9 and 90.1, among others.  Whitney has performed for several Presidential affairs and inaugurations, as well as Grammy, Olympic Events, and the Billboard Award Show.

Angelique Poteat  |  b. 1986
In addition to having performances of her music across the United States and recently in Australia, Ms. Poteat has received numerous awards and commissions, including a Merit Award from the National Foundation for the Advancement of Arts, the Daniel M. Caesar Memorial Award, and a commission from the 20/21 New Music Ensemble.  Her music has been performed and recorded by such groups as the New York New Music Ensemble, the Enso Quartet, the Trio Tara, the Woodlands Symphony Orchestra, and members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

Shulamit Ran  |  b. 1949
Following the premiere of her composition Legend by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Israeli-born composer Shulamit Ran was said to have “never forgotten that a vital essence of composition is communication” (Chicago Tribune). Her composition Symphony received a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 and first place in the Kennedy Center’s Friedheim Award in 1992. She has held professorships at Princeton University and the University of Chicago, where she currently teaches.

Jeanine Rueff  |  1922-1999
Jeanine Rueff, born in Paris in 1922, is one of the most gifted female composers of the twentieth century.  She was a student of Henri Busser at the Paris Conservatoire and won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1948.  She wrote extensively for saxophone, saxhorn, clarinet, and cornet, and her compositions for saxophone are often used as required contest solos.  Rueff’s music, which tends to be very difficult technically, challenges the ensemble as much as it does the individual musicians.

Rachel Seah  |  b. 1989
Born in Singapore but raised in Hong Kong, Rachel began playing the piano at the age of 4.  However, it was not until she moved to Australia, at the age of 16, that her passion for music began to surface.  There, she had the opportunity to undertake private composition lessons, which established a desire to express herself through music.  Life-changing experiences of working with the poor and the destitute in both Hong Kong and the Philippines has led Rachel to explore the fragility and brokenness of human nature through her creative output.  This pursuit has now taken her to the Eastman School of Music, where she studies under Professor Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon as a sophomore composer.

Kristen Shiner McGuire  |  b. 1958
Kristen Shiner McGuire has been the Coordinator of Percussion Studies at Nazareth College since 1984.  She is known internationally as a drummer, percussionist, singer, composer, and teacher. She holds a Masters Degree in Percussion Performance and a Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music and has studied marimba in Japan with virtuoso Keiko Abe.  She is currently a performer with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the RPO Marimba Band, and Maelstrom Percussion Ensemble.

Nancy Pettersen Strelau  |  b. 1955
Nancy Pettersen Strelau has received music degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Miami (Florida) and has taught in public, private and laboratory schools in Idaho, Utah, North Dakota and Florida. In addition to conducting the Nazareth College Symphony Orchestra and Nazareth College Chamber Orchestra, Mrs. Strelau is currently Music Director and Conductor of the Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra, Hochstein Virtuosi Scholarship Chamber Orchestra and the Greater Rochester Women’s Philharmonic.

Barbara Strozzi  |  1619-1664
Barbara Strozzi composed some of the most remarkable and dramatic music of the seventeenth century. She was regarded as the foremost singer and lute player in Venice. Her music bears resemblances to her teacher Cavalli’s, however, it displays more lyricism. Formally, she contrasted musical ideas and utilized refrains. Ms. Strozzi’s eight volumes of published music include arias, madrigals, duets, and more cantatas than any other seventeenth century composer.

Erzsébet Szönyi  |  b. 1924
Erzsébet Szönyi is an Hungarian composer, conductor, and music educator.  Between 1948 and 1981, Szönyi taught at the Liszt Academy, becoming head of the teacher-training department in 1960.  During that time, she published her pioneering work, A zenei írás-olvasás módszertana (“Methods of Musical Reading and Writing,” Budapest, 1953–65).  It was largely owing to her efforts that Kodály’s educational theories became world-renowned.  In addition to pedagogical works, Szönyi’s vocal compositions are amongst her most significant contributions.  She was awarded the Liszt Prize in 1947 and the Erkel Prize in 1959 and is considered one of Hungary’s most important musical personalities.

Grace Vamos  |  1898-1992
Grace Vamos a native of San Francisco, resided in Berkeley for many years and studied cello with the outstanding teachers in the area.  She concertized extensively with “Trio Moderne” (harp, flute, and cello) for which she arranged much of the music they performed.  A Damrosch Scholarship enabled her to continue her studies in France at the Fontainebleau School of Music at the Paris Conservatory.  At a late date, she had the privilege of being a student of Zoltan Kodaly in Budapest.  She has won several awards for her compositions among them the Sigma Alpha Iota award for her “Suite for Cello and Piano.”  One of her prized possessions is a letter from Pablo Casals, praising her “Suite for Violoncello and Piano.”  To encourage music students of the younger generation, the Grace Becker Vamos Scholarship for promising young cellists was established in 1975.  Vamos also endowed the Grace Vamos National Cello Competition.

Pauline Viardot-Garcia  |  1821-1910
Berlioz described singer and composer Pauline Viardot as “one of the greatest artists (…) in the past and present history of music.”  Her musical and dramatic gifts were greatly acclaimed.  In her 150 appearances as Orpheus in Gluck’s Orfeo et Euridice many agreed that she reached tragic heights rarely seen on stage.  In 1862 Charles Dickens called this “a most extraordinary performance – full of quite sublime acting.”  As well as her phenomenal singing career, she found time to compose four operettas, much vocal music, and a few instrumental works.  Robert Schumann’s Op. 24 and Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila are dedicated to her.

Chen Yi  |  b. 1953
In 1986, Chinese-born composer Chen Yi became the first woman to earn a master’s degree in composition in China.  She is a recipient of a Grammy award and the Charles Ives Living Award, and has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well commissions from Yo-Yo Ma & the Pacific Symphony and the LA Philharmonic.  She has served on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory and currently teaches composition at the Conservatory of the University of Missouri – Kansas City.