Balancing the scales of women’s representation in fine music

She Speaks, a day of concerts and conversations presented by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, celebrates the works of female composers past and present.

According to an independent study released in June last year, Australia’s largest orchestras played more pieces with the word ‘violin’ in their titles in 2019 than works by female composers. And despite the fact that at least a quarter of composition students in Australia in 2016 were women, the classical music canon remains overwhelmingly male-dominated.

As respected composer Anne Boyd AM told ArtsHub in 2017, female composers have historically been overlooked for major orchestral commissions. ‘With a very few exceptions, orchestral commissions more typically go to men,’ she said.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts