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Female composers overlooked in Danish concert programmes

2018-03-06
A new report published today takes a close look at the repertoire performed by Danish orchestras and ensembles and at Danish music festivals. The statistics show an obvious inequality: More than 95% of the works performed are written by men.

The report is initiated by the Danish Composers' Society, Edition Wilhelm Hansen, Edition·S and SNYK, and is based on works performed over the past three years. Chairman of the Danish Composers' Society, Bent Sørensen, comments on the report:  "It is sad and shameful that music created by women takes up so unbelievably little space in the concert programmes in Denmark. That must be changed, and we have lot of work ahead of us, everyone involved with music in Denmark, to make sure that this will change radically in the years to come and for future generations."

The report also shows that orchestras and ensembles who should represent the complete history of music more or less ignores new music, and sticks to older or long gone, well known composers. Bent Sørensen calls for a change on this field as well: "The history of music is not a closed chapter and it never will be."

The absence of female composers on the repertoire of Danish orchestras and ensembles stands in striking contrast to the amount of awards given to female composers. Most recently Line Tjørnhøj and Birgitte Alsted received one of the most prestigious Danish honorary awards, the Carl Nielsen Prize 2017.

Louise Alenius received the P2 prize for "Concert moment of the year" for the opera Silent Zone, and she calls for female role models in order to achieve gender equality: "The girls need role models. As a young girl it is almost impossible to relate to an old (late) man with a beard - and that IS the only image you are presented to in the meeting with the great classical composers."

Read the full report here.

The initiation of the report is inspired by the Swedish diversity report published in 2015 by the Swedish Composers' Society and KVAST - Kvinnlig Anhopning af Svenska Tonsättare (Female association of Swedish Composers).

KVAST has furthermore organised an international database of female composers and a "repertoire bank", where orchestras and ensembles can find all the inspiration they need to perform works by female composers in the future.

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