Welcome to Muhlenberg College’s Celebration of Women Composers

The 1920 ratification of the 19th amendment offered the promise of granting American women a constitutional right to a political voice for the first time--a promise subsequently confirmed in practice by the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, which guaranteed the franchise for African Americans. In honor of that promise, the Muhlenberg Music Department will feature a semester-long examination of women's compositional voices. The work of women as composers extends as far back as the written tradition itself--one of the first composers we know of is the 12th century abbess Hildegard of Bingen. At times, women used the power of their compositional voices to advocate for a political voice: the Brazilian composer of color Chiquinha Gonzaga used her position as a major Brazilian composer to advocate both for abolition and women's suffrage. In spite of this legacy, the music of women composers, and particularly of transwomen and composers of color, remains underrepresented on contemporary concert programs. In this semester-long examination and celebration of the work of women composers, Muhlenberg students will perform works by women composers both historical and recent, both well-known and emerging, and in a wide variety of genres and styles. These performances will be framed by scholarly examinations of these traditions and conversations with contemporary women composers.