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Handel and Haydn Society’s Every Voice concert celebrates female composers

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Handel and Haydn Society’s Every Voice concert celebrates female composers
H+H-Chorus-members. PHOTO: NATALIA SLATTERY

In celebration of the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage, Handel and Haydn Society will honor women during its 2020 Every Voice concert on Sunday, Nov. 8. The annual concert will stream online this year, and as always, it’s free and open to the public. The program highlights women composers of color, queer composers and women with a Boston connection whose compositions are long overdue for recognition.

“We want to give power to women’s voices and draw attention to new composers that our audiences may not be familiar with,” says Emily Reed, Vice President of Education and Community Engagement for the Handel and Haydn Society. “The program showcases the diverse and unique contributions these incredible women have made to the performing arts world.”

Reginald Mobley. PHOTO: NATALIA SLATTERY

Reginald Mobley. PHOTO: NATALIA SLATTERY

Reginald Mobley will lead the concert. Mobley was appointed earlier this year to the position of programming consultant with the mission to diversify the H+H repertoire.

In this concert, that means presenting works by female composers of all kinds. Queer Italian composer Isabella Leonarda produced almost two hundred compositions, though she was largely unknown outside of her hometown during her lifetime. H+H will perform her piece, “Venite, laetantes, Op. 20, No. 12.”

Zenobia Powell Perry was an African American composer and civil rights activist who taught music for decades at historically black colleges. In this concert she’ll be celebrated with a rendition of “Homage.”

H+H Youth Choruses Concert Choir. PHOTO: Chris Petre Baumer

H+H Youth Choruses Concert Choir. PHOTO: Chris Petre Baumer

Florence Price was an African American composer who honed her skills right here in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music. It was there that she wrote her first symphony. Three of her compositions — “A White Rose,” “Out of the South Blew a Wind” and “Song to the Dark Virgin” – are featured in the Every Voice program.

From its inception, the Every Voice concert has been focused on uplifting unsung voices. This year, women locally and abroad are championed for their talents and perseverance in a male-dominated industry. The show will finish with J. Rosamond Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” and a special livestream Q&A hosted by contralto and H+H performer Emily Marvosh.

Tickets are free, though H+H recommends a $10 donation to go toward compensating the artists. Prior registration is required.

Reed says, “The classical music world has traditionally focused on the contributions of men, but people who identify as women — including queer women and women of color — have been creating powerful music, all along.”

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