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SOMA Celebrates WOMEN IN MUSIC With Virtual Chamber Music Concert From SOPAC And The Woodland

Two prominent women composers featured in the program are Valerie Coleman and Florence Price.

SOMA Celebrates WOMEN IN MUSIC With Virtual Chamber Music Concert From SOPAC And The Woodland

In celebration on Women's History Month, Maplewood Division of Arts & Culture, South Orange Village and the South Orange Performing Arts Center have joined together to bring to the region WOMEN IN MUSIC, a chamber music concert showcasing the music of women composers. Recorded at The Woodland in Maplewood and SOPAC in South Orange, the concert features members from the Garden State Philharmonic Orchestra with Music Director and Conductor Diane Wittry, and the South Orange Symphony under the leadership of Conductor Susan Haig.

Ana De Archuleta, Director of Maplewood Division of Arts & Culture notes, "The last five years have seen a flurry of new initiatives designed to support and encourage women to take up roles in musical leadership. Still, less than 10% of orchestras are led by women. This program celebrates not only Female composers, but has been curated by two talented female conductors and their distinguished and primarily female ensembles. We are delighted to collaborate on such an important community program."

The WOMEN IN MUSIC virtual concert will take place on Friday, March 26, 2021 at 7:30pm and is free to all with registration through SOPAC. (Registration Link: WOMEN IN MUSIC 2021 is sponsored by Maplewood Division of Arts & Culture, Maplewood Township, South Orange Village, SOPAC, Pollock Properties Group, Keller Williams Premiere Properties and Matt Kean Guaranteed Rate.

Two prominent women composers featured in the program are Valerie Coleman, a living African-American composer named Performance Today's 2020 "Classical Woman of the Year," and Florence Price, the 1st African-American composer to have a work performed by a major Symphony Orchestra - in 1933 the Chicago Symphony performed her Symphony No. 1. The concert will include "Umoja" (which means "Unity" in Swahili) by Coleman, and the "Andante" from String Quartet No. 2 by Price.

Music by Gabriela Lena Frank, a living composer of Latin-American heritage, will also be performed. Ms. Frank is currently the Composer in Residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Her piece, "Coqueteos" from Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout, mixes elements from the western classical and Andean folk music traditions, drawing inspiration from the idea of mestizaje as envisioned by the Peruvian writer Jose María Arguedas, wherein cultures co-exist without the subjugation of one by the other.

Other pieces include Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel's String Quartet in Eb Major, and the final movement of Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz's award winning String Quartet No. 4. Fanny was the sister of the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn, and Grazyna Bacewicz's music won numerous awards and recognition during her lifetime.

"It is so refreshing and enlightening to hear these wonderful pieces composed by women. The composers on this program, Maddalena Lombardini, Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, Florence Price, Grazyna Bacewicz, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Valerie Coleman, span a time period of almost 250 years. They each have their own very distinct musical voice and a unique sense of melody and harmony. We are excited to be performing this music and hope that you will explore more of their compositions."
- Diane Wittry, Music Director and Conductor, WOMEN IN MUSIC and Garden State Philharmonic

Garden State Philharmonic (GSP), a professional orchestra based at the Jersey Shore, has been bringing music to the residents of New Jersey for over 65 years. Under the artistic leadership of Conductor Diane Wittry, the GSP has expanded their concert season and is now performing in Essex and Monmouth Counties, as well as Ocean County. GSP holds open-to-the-public Rehearsals at the Woodland.

The South Orange Symphony, is a community orchestra comprised of local amateur and professional musicians whose mission is to bring family-oriented concerts and community outreach in an effort to provide education and exposure to those who may not be familiar with classical music.

A generous sponsor of WOMEN IN MUSIC, Vanessa Pollock of Pollock Properties Group/Keller Williams is an advocate for music, musical education and music scholarships in the district. Vanessa and husband Charlie founded the Vanessa Pollock Music Initiative, a fund managed by the Achieve Foundation. The Pollocks know how impactful music is to people's lives, so along with Matt Keane of Guaranteed Rate, Pollock Properties Group is thrilled to support the WOMEN IN MUSIC program for Women's History Month to honor women in music, as well as to foster a love of music for all generations.

SOMA celebrates women honors the lives and achievements of women all throughout the year featuring a series of events geared towards education, empowerment, support and solidarity as we amplify women's voices to honor the past, inform the present and inspire the future.

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