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MasterWorks concert shines spotlight on women

November 13, 2003|by Elizabeth Schulze

This weekend at The Maryland Theatre, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra will present the second program in our MasterWorks Series.

We've called our program Women's Voices in order to include the many ways that women have participated and contributed to the art of music: as performers, composers and muses. Women's presence in music, as performers in particular, has been well-documented throughout history, and their contributions in this sphere has been acknowledged and often celebrated. There is only one area of music in which women have been less recognized, and from which they have been openly excluded, and that is in the area of musical composition. This exclusion has many reasons, mostly social and political ones that thankfully, no longer hold sway in much of the world today.

In the tradition of art music, the past 30 to 40 years have been greatly enriched by the creative and successful compositional efforts of women. This weekend, we focus on two important contemporary voices from America and also celebrate a legendary voice from the past. Both Cindy McTee and Melinda Wagner have earned recognition and acclaim for their compositions. Played by major orchestras here and abroad, their works have found critical success and audience approval.

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As with any successful composer, each of these women speaks with a unique and imaginative voice. McTee's "Circuits" is a celebration of the technical age as she playfully conveys the energy and power of those miraculous little circuits that nowadays, run the world. Wagner's Pulitzer Prize-winning Concerto for Flute, Percussion and Strings is a passionate and poignant offering that, despite being cast in a traditional form, is intensely personal and emotionally vivid.

We are pleased to welcome our principal flute, Frances Lapp Averitt, to the front of the stage as our guest soloist for the Wagner concerto. She feels deeply about this challenging concerto, and her remarks before her performance are sure to enhance the audience experience of this work.

The second half of our program is devoted to a standard of the orchestral repertoire and a favorite of audiences: Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade." The heroine-narrator of "The Arabian Nights" has intrigued and inspired me since childhood, and Rimsky's music brilliantly captures the excitement and romance of several of these wondrous tales. The voice of "Scheherazade" represented in the ravishing and soulful beauty of the violin solos is unforgettable and a fitting way to celebrate the importance of women's voices in music.

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