Women in Music Festival

Composer Biographies 2014

Amy Beach | 1867-1944
Composer and pianist Amy Beach wrote over three hundred works in a variety of genres including a mass, a symphony, a piano concerto, and works for chamber ensembles, piano, mixed chorus, and solo voice. 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 in Europe as well. Her compositional style has been described as both Romantic and post-Romantic.

Judith Bingham | b. 1952
As a small child Judith Bingham studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was awarded the Principal’s prize in 1971. She has received the BBC Young Composer award. She was a member of the BBC singers and between 2004 and 2009 she was their “Composer in Association,” during which she wrote a series of choral works. She has written a substantial body of pieces for organ, a concerto written for Stephen Cleobury, various chamber group compositions, etc.

Margaret Bonds | b. 1913-1972
Composer, pianist, and teacher Margaret Bonds was the first African-American to appear with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, performing Florence Beatrice Price’s Piano Concerto. In addition, she received a Wanamaker Prize for her composition Sea Ghost. Bonds received degrees from Northwestern University and the Juilliard School. Her works are programmatic, and they are often infused with jazz harmonies, social ideas, and spiritual elements.

Judy Bruce | b. 1947
Judy Bruce has been actively composing for the last ten years. She has written many piano works, both solos and duets, string quartets, suites for violin, band pieces, and large orchestral works. She is presently studying composition with David Stock, former composer in residence of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Ms. Bruce holds a Bachelor’s degree in performance from Carnegie Mellon and a Master’s degree from Youngstown State.

Jon Lin Chua | b. 1986
Jon Lin Chua is currently a composition and music theory double major at the Eastman School of Music, where she also studies piano performance with Tony Caramia. Her composition teachers include David Liptak and Dr. Robert Casteels. Hailing from a rich background of both Western and Eastern influences, she has a wealth of experience drawn from various diverse musical roles. Her composition portfolio consists of original works, transcriptions, transcreations and arrangements for instrumental solos, chamber groups, full orchestral groups, and even a full length opera premiered in 2013 across the Western and Eastern hemispheres.

Eleanor Daley  | b. 1955
Composer of choral and church music, a church choirmaster, choral clinician and accompanist. She is regularly commissioned by choral groups and arts organizations for multiple ensembles including the Elmer Iseler Singers, Toronto Children’s Chorus, Amabile Youth singer’s, among many others. She is best known for her works The Rose trilogy and Requiem. She holds a bachelor’s degree in organ performance from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. She lives in Toronto and serves as the music director at Fairlawn Avenue United Church.

Fernande Decruck | b. 1896-1954
French composer who has written over forty works for saxophone for the famous pioneer of saxophone playing in France, Marcel Mule. Even though her music fell into obscurity after her death, her compositions have been rediscovered and her Sonata in C-Sharp major for alto saxophone and piano is now frequently performed. Her compositional style includes pentatonic scales and other non Western elements.

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.

Roshanne Etezady | b. 1973
Deeply inspired by the styles of Sondheim and Glass Ms. Etezady developed an interested in modern classical music from a very young age. Since then her works have been commissioned by the Albany Symphony, Dartmouth Symphony, Music at the Anthology, etc. She has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She has helped the audience for new music expand through collaborative projects with outreach programs. She holds degrees from Yale University, Northwestern University and the University of Michigan.

Rolande Falcinelli  | b.1920-2006
Falcinelli entered the Paris Conservatory in 1932, where she studied with Isidor Phillip and Abel Estyle. She received the second Grand Prix de Rome in composition in 1942. She was the official organist at Sacré-Coeur in Paris from 1946-1955. In 1955 She became the professor of organ and improvisation at the Paris conservatory where she taught for thirty-two years. Known mostly for her organ music, she also wrote for piano, harpsichord, solo instruments, orchestra, choir, and songs.

Beata Golec | b. 1981
Simplicity and directness of expression, color versatility and some extent of repetitivism are main features of Beata Golec’s music. Dr. Golec completed her undergraduate education in Poland at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw and at the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice. She completed her graduate studies at Eastman School of Music (MM and DMA). Official recognition for her as a composer came when she received an award for “Fantazja Polska” for piano and cello at the “Patri Patriae” All-Polish Composers Competition for a piece dedicated to Pope John Paul II. “Fantazja Polska” premiered at Ars Cameralis Silesiae Superioris Festival in 1997 (Katowice, Poland). The score of the piece has been kept in Vatican. Several of her compositions have been premiered at the annual Women in Music Festival in Rochester, New York. She was the assistant director of Women in Music Festival in the 2011-2012 season. Golec debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2005 and performed there again in 2006. In October 2006 she was named the Artist of the Month by the directors of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition for two consecutive years. More info: www.beatagolec.com

Sofiya Gubaidulina | b. 1931
Composer Sofiya Gubaydulina is considered one of the foremost modern Russian composers. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Koussevitzky Prize, the State Prize of Russia, and the Kulturpreis des Kreises Pinneberg. Ms. Gubaydulina’s style is quite eclectic, drawing inspiration from philosophical ideas, Eastern themes, Western ideology and the Russian Orthodox tradition. She graduated from the Kazan’ Conservatory, and proceeded with graduate studies at the Moscow Conservatory.

Fanny Hensel  | 1805-1847
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847) was a major talent, a better pianist than her brother Felix according to him, and the person to whom he took all of his compositions for criticism. Her father and brother discouraged her from having a professional career or publishing, but she was the musical director of one of the most important musical salons in Berlin in the 1830’s and participated as a conductor, pianist and composer. In 1846 a small number of her works were published and she was planning more when she became ill and died. She composed songs, cantatas, oratorios and operas.

Jennifer Higdon  | b. 1962
Jennifer Higdon has been a recipient of the Pew and Guggenheim Fellowships and has twice received awards from the American Academy of Awards and Letters.  Her work has been championed by The Washington Post for its, “innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit.”  Since its premiere in 2000, Higdon’s work blue cathedral has been performed by 150 orchestras. She has been commissioned by the San Francisco Opera to write an opera to premiere in the Fall of 2013.

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.

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.

Eunyoung Kim
From Korea, Eunyong Kim received her doctorate from the Eastman School of Music in 2010. She studied organ with David Higgs and continuo playing, harpsichord and improvisation with William Porter at the Eastman. Dr. Kim is currently in Seoul, a lecturer of Organ Performance and Literature at Yonsei University, Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, Kyung Hee University and Incheon Arts High School.

She received her Bachelor’s degree (1996) and Master of Music (1998) from Yonsei University, where she studied church music and organ with Kyunghee Jung and Tongsoon Kwak. Kim then pursued further studies with Harald Feller in Germany and earned the Meisterklassendiplom (2000) at the Musikhochschule in München. Eunyoung was a semifinalist in the 1996 International Organ Competition of Musashino-Tokyo and in the 1999 Internationaler Musikwettbewerb der ARD, München. She formerly served as the organist at St. Paul’s Church in Englewood(New Jersey), Our Lady of Lourdes in Brighton(Rochester), and the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford. Currently, she is the organist at Onnuri Church in Seoul.

Larysa Kuzmenko | b. 1956
Larysa Kuzmenko is a Toronto-based composer, pianist and Juno nominee. Her music has been commissioned, performed, and recorded by many outstanding musicians all over the world. She has appeared as a pianist in several countries, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, St. Lawrence Centre, England, USA, Roy Thomson Hall, among others. She is currently on staff at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of music, where she teacher piano, harmony, and composition.

Lori Laitman | b. 1995
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.). She holds a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music.

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.

Jane Leslie | b. 1954
A Native New Yorker, Jane Leslie holds a Bachelor and Masters degrees from the Juilliard school and a Doctoral degree from the Manhattan school of music. She has two albums of original piano solos, Southampton Sunset and Dreamsongs which have been featured on the internet and broadcasted in the U.S and abroad. Her compositions include numerous piano solos, music for voice, strings, woodwinds, percussion, and various ensembles.

Mei Fang Lin |
Received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and her master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is supported by the Frank Huntington Beebe Foundation in Boston and a George Ladd Paris Prize from UC Berkeley, she also spent three years in France studying composition and participated in the one-year computer music course “Cursus de Composition” at IRCAM. Awards for her music include those from the Seoul International Competition for Composers, Bourges Competition in France, Look & Listen Festival Prize in US (1st Prize – 2002), Pierre Schaeffer Competition in Italy (3rd Prize – 2002), and many others. Lin’s music has received performances by different groups nationally and internationally.

Caroline Lizotte   | b. 1969
Harpist and composer Caroline Lizotte holds the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s second harp position and has been first substitute to the principal harp since 2003. She plays with many ensembles and orchestras in Eastern Canada and records with several classical and popular artists. Lizotte is a Canadian Music Centre Associate Composer. Her compositions and transcriptions for harp are played all over the world, as well as many international harp competitions. Among her works, Raga for two harps and Suite Glactique for solo harp are recorded by harpists Jennifer Swarts, Lori Gemmell on ATMA Classique. La Madone, lullaby for solo harp is recorded by Valérie Milot on ANALEKTA label. Born in Québec City, Mrs. Lizotte graduated from the Conservatoire de Musique de Québec and studied at the Eastman School of Music. She is now professor of harp at the Conservatoire de Musique de Trois-Rivières and on the Université de Montréal’s Music Faculty www.clayne.com

Alma Schindler Mahler  | 1879-1964
Alma Schindler Mahler studied counterpoint and composition with Zemlinsky and had written about a hundred songs by the time she was 22, when she married composer Gustav Mahler, director of the Vienna Opera. He made her promise to quit composing, something he deeply regretted in 1910 when he took a second look at her music following a marital crisis. After Mahler’s death in 1911 and an affair with the artist Oskar Kokoschka, Alma married architect Walter Gropius. After their divorce, she married Franz Werfel in 1929. During the Third Reich they fled Vienna leaving everything behind, including her manuscripts, which were destroyed when the house was bombed. They eventually settled in California to be near their friends, Bruno Walter, Thomas Mann and Arnold Schoenberg.

Kye Ryung Park | b. 1974
As a resident of both Asia and the United States, composer Kye Ryung (Karen) Park, has successfully integrated a number of multi-cultural elements into her own artistic identity. She is an accomplished pianist as well as an active Kayagum player. Her compositions have been performed at numerous music festivals and conferences including the International Festival of Women Composers, Nevada Encounters of New Music, Pan Music Festival, June in Buffalo and College Music Society’s Regional, National, and International Conferences as well as Grumo festival and Corso internazionale d’interpretazione in Italy.  Recently her piano suite Reminiscences (2008) was broadcast on KGCS radio in Missouri.  Future premieres also include performances in international venues such as Egypt, Taiwan, and Korea.  She is currently on the faculty at Edison State College in Fort Myers, Florida.

Luise Reichardt  | b. 1779-1826
Luise’s father was composer Johann Friedrich Reichardt. She moved to Hamburg in 1809, teaching singing and directing a women’s chorus which by 1819 evolved into the Hamburg Singverein. Her life knew tragedy: Her fiancé died shortly before they were due to be married; somewhat later, she lost her voice. Known for her translations and arrangements of Handel’s oratorios, she composed over 90 song and choruses of her own.

Clara Schumann | b. 1819-1896
Hailed as Europe’s “Queen of Piano,” Clara Schumann began composing 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. Ms. Schumann’s compositional style is characterized by virtuosity, poeticism, bold harmonies, rhythms, and modulations.

Lucy Simon | b. 1943
Lucy Simon is the composer of the new musical Zhivago which had its premiere at La Jolla Playhouse. She made her Broadway debut in 1991 as the composer of The Secret Garden, for which she received Tony and Drama Desk nominations, the DramaLogue Award and a Grammy nomination for the recording of the score. She received two Grammy Awards for her In Harmony albums, which she co-wrote and produced. Simon wrote songs for the film A Simple Wish and contributed songs for the long-running review A… My Name is Alice. She began her professional career at the age of 16 with her sister Carly as part of The Simon Sisters.

Suzanne Sorkin | b. 1977
Associate Professor of Music, is active as a composer and educator.  She has received awards and commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, Chamber Music Now, Third Millennium Ensemble, counter) inducation, ASCAP, and others.  Her work has been programmed on Piano Spheres in Los Angeles, Washington Square Contemporary Music Society, Denison University New Music Festival, Chamber Music Quad Cities, Florida State University Festival of New Music, and Vassar Modfest.  She has written for ensembles including the Mannes Trio, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Third Angle, and Aspen Contemporary Ensemble.  She has been a composition fellow at the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Ernest Bloch Composers Symposium, the Advanced Masterclasses in Composition at the Aspen Music Festival, and the Oregon Bach Composers Symposium.  Residencies include Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale Foundation, Artists’ Enclave at I-Park, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, and Atlantic Center for the Arts.  She received her Ph.D. in composition from the University of Chicago through the support of a four-year Century Fellowship in the Humanities. At Saint Joseph’s University she teaches courses in music composition and music theory, serves as Chair of the Department of Music, Theatre and Film, and co-directs the Music Industry minor.

 Dana Suesse | 1909-1987
Was an American composer known for her popular songs. In the United States she studied piano with Alexander Siloti, Franz Liszt’s last surviving pupil. She studied in France with Naadia Boulanger. She composed for productions such as, Sweet and Low (1930), You Never Know (1938), Crazy With the Heat (1941), The Seven Year Itch (1952), and others.

Hilary Tann | b. 1947
Welsh-born composer Hilary Tann lives in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York where she is the John Howard Payne Professor of Music and Union College. She holds degrees in composition from the University of Wales and from Princeton University. She was a guest composer in residence in the Women in Music Festival in 2011. Praised for her lyricism and formal balance, her music is influenced by her love of Wales and strong identification with the natural world. Her compositions have been performed and recorded by the European Women’s Orchestra, Meininger Trio, BBCNOW, KBS Philharmonic in Seoul (Korea), etc.

Jeanine Tesori | b. 1961
Jeanine Tesori (Music, Shrek) has written three Tony-nominated scores for Broadway: Twelfth Night (Lincoln Center); Thoroughly Modern Millie (lyrics, Dick Scanlan); and Caroline, or Change (lyrics, Tony Kushner; director, George C. Wolfe). The National Theatre production of Caroline, or Change in London received the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Her first musical, Violet, written with Brian Crawley, received the NY Drama Critics Circle Award. She has received Drama Desk and Obie Awards, and was cited by ASCAP as the first woman composer to have “two new musicals running concurrently on Broadway.” She composed the music for the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Mother Courage, directed by George C. Wolfe and translated by Tony Kushner. Film scores include Nights in Rodanthe, Winds of Change, Show Business and Wrestling With Angels. She composed songs for the movie Shrek the Third and for the Disney DVD releases Mulan II, Lilo and Stitch II and The Little Mermaid III. Ms. Tesori is a member of the Dramatists Guild. She is a graduate of Barnard College and lives in Manhattan with her husband, Michael Rafter, and daughter, Siena.

Tellu Turkka  | b. 1969
Is a Finnish fiddler and singer of contemporary folk music. She studied at the Sibelius Academy. She is known for her work with the band Hedningarna; during this time she developed a strong interest in ancient Finnish runo-songs, which compose the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. Tellu has performed with ensembles such as Loituma, Piniartut, Tallari, Luna Nova, and many others. Her most famous work is Kevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden.

Gwyneth Walker | b. 1974
Gwyneth Walker is a graduate of Brown University and the Hartt School of Music. She holds BA, MM and DMA Degrees in Music Composition. A former faculty member of the Oberlin College Conservatory, she resigned from academic employment in 1982 in order to pursue a career as a full-time composer. She now lives on a dairy farm in Braintree, Vermont. Her recent works include two new SATB choral/orchestral sets, The Morning Train and Alpha and Omega, as well as Blessings from the Children and The Circus of Creation.

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.

Judith Lang Zaimont | b. 1945
Judith Lang Zaimont is an internationally known composer, famous for her one hundred works in genres ranging from symphonies to chamber music and solo works. Her music has been described as “powerful”, “expressive”, “provocative”, and “brilliant”. Among major ensembles that have commissioned and performed her works are the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony. Ms. Zaimont is also a respected teacher, having served on the faculties of Queens College and the Peabody Conservatory of Music.