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Combating Underrepresentation: Women in Music
Angela Cui '21 Staff Writer
November 8, 2019

On Nov. 15, the Deerfield music program will host a concert featuring pieces solely by female composers. The recital will begin in the Concert Hall with performances by the Deerfield Orchestra; chamber, chorus, and vocal programs; and a duet including cellist and Deerfield alumna Amy Kang ‘05. After, the concert will move to the Hess lobby where CODA will take the stage featuring a DJ dance party. The showcased music ranges from classical to jazz to modern pop and contemporary music, from Hildegard von Bingen of the eleventh century to Lizzo of the twenty-first century.

Director of Chamber Music and Orchestra Thomas Bergeron hopes that such a broad range of music genres introduces student musicians to a variety of styles, while also diversifying the audience’s exposure. By exposing the students to diverse genres of music, he hopes to broaden the students’ view of music at Deerfield and break down the stigma often associated with it.

Credit: Natasha Leong

“We’re trying to produce more music events on campus that are more varied in terms of how we define music,” explained Bergeron. “There’ll be something for everybody, but everyone also has the opportunity to hear something they otherwise might not have listened to.”

In addition to diverse styles of music, the concert also draws specific attention to women in music. The inspiration for this concert arose when Bergeron, after hearing many conversations about the disproportionate representation of men in music, particularly in classical music, decided something should be done.

Bergeron recalled how when he saw an ad for a major music publisher, Alfred Music, with a photo of the newest composers to be on the company’s roster, all the composers featured were male. This ad, along with recent discussions in the professional music world about representation, inspired Bergeron to hold the concert.

“It felt like the right time to intentionally feature female artists. Historically, music institutions, including the Deerfield music program, have disproportionately represented music by men,” said Bergeron.

By showcasing different genres of music across the centuries, the Women In Music concert not only brings attention to the lack of female representation historically, but also shows the progress the world has made in terms of women’s rights. In fact, music is one primary expertise in which women participation has grown immensely in the recent years.

“Female musicians represent how far the profession of music has come in terms of inclusion and modernization, since music was historically a male-dominated profession but now the talents of women are being recognized as much as men,” explained Joe Wang ‘20, a violist in the Deerfield music program.

Music is a universal language, and this concert’s showcasing of female composers will educate and inspire both the musicians and the audience.

“I think it is immensely beneficial for the arts program to explore, recognize, and raise awareness of the diverse range of works composed by women,”said pianist Helen Feng ‘20.

“This can not only broaden the horizon of student-performers, but also spread the ideas of female empowerment and embracing diversity to the wider community—messages that can hopefully inspire Deerfield students given its relevance and applicability to different areas of interest.”