Happy Birthday Sofia!

Coming just around the corner is the recording of an all-women composers. November is the month when I will be sequestered with the Philharmonia, recording singularly vibrant works by three contemporary luminaries: Sofia Gubaidulina, Clarice Assad, and Anna Clyne. The occasion for making this recording is Gubaidulina’s 90th birthday – a composer of international fame and recognition. But there is more to the story. To me, this recording is also an hommage to all those forgotten or never actualized women composers of the past – a tragedy of untold proportions – perhaps a whole library gone up in smoke smothered by merciless patriarchalism, never allowing them to see the light of day. This truth has bothered me a great deal, so I have decided to take some proactive steps and do my part and attempt a restitution of a kind by giving today’s women composers an opportunity to be heard.

I was also impressed by Sofia’s recent comment which I shared with Jennifer Higdon, an American contemporary composer of enormous skill and power. I told her that Gubaidulina just recently said that now as she turns 90, she is no longer going to take any more commissions. She is just going to write what she wants to write. Higdon found the idea sobering and worthy of consideration. What a liberation: to write as the spirit moves you. If we are so lucky to taste some of these fruits of Gubaidulina’s liberation, we are sure to encounter some extraordinary music indeed.

Happy birthday Sofia! And thank you for being you!

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