Brighton Philharmonic is an orchestra led by women – just look at our Music Director and principal players. We’re delighted that, for International Women’s Day, Joanna MacGregor’s programme showcases exciting music by strong female composers.
British Jamaican composer and pianist Eleanor Alberga is a huge presence in today’s music, with commissions from the BBC Proms and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Her filigree Clouds was commissioned by London Contemporary Dance and matches their scudding, drifting and storming. Belize-born British Errollyn Wallen – award-winning composer, pianist and singer – explores themes of slavery and freedom in her magnificent Mighty River, written in 2007 to mark the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. Quoting Amazing Grace at the beginning, gathering momentum like a river flowing to the sea, Errollyn writes: ‘ ‘it is as if the perpetual motion of the music, like water, like time, through its sheer momentum carries with it the cries and echoes of human hearts and voices, that are singing out of suffering, repentance, humility and hope.’
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas the composer, pianist organist and teacher Florence Price was the first African American female composer to be performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. Her powerful and lyrical Mississippi River Suite was written the next year, and starts with an evocation of the dawn, before a wonderful weaving of Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, Stand Still Jordan, Go Down, Moses and Deep River.