Women Composers for Brass Band

As part of the Women Make Music campaign supported by the Performing Rights Society, the Harrogate Band is featuring the works of female composers and arrangers of brass band music in its concerts throughout the year. The band has a proud tradition of regularly performing contemporary original music for brass, so it’s going to start to address this gender imbalance by increasing the amount of music it plays composed and arranged by women.

The band doesn’t actually know if the brass band movement mirrors the music industry as a whole but a cursory review of their own experience told it it probably is. Until recently their committee was never led by a woman, all their adjudicators for all their contests had been male, they’d only ever performed one piece in competition written by a woman, virtually all the panels that pick competition pieces are male, the two main media outlets for brass bands are run exclusively by men and there are hardly any women conductors. Look through bands’ music libraries and there’ll be almost no music written by a woman and listen to brass band music programmes and women’s voices are rarely heard.

Women are well represented in brass banding but their contribution is rarely recognised, visible and celebrated. Most bands wouldn’t function without the work of women committee members, brass band competitions are kept going by women nearly always tucked away out of the limelight behind the scenes doing vital administrative jobs, women are looking after children whilst their husbands play and 50% of the audiences are female.

But it’s much more than trying to reduce a gender imbalance. The reason is that if we’re wasting the talent of so many people who could be composing brilliant music for brass bands our audiences are losing out and so is the brass band movement.

The campaign has two objectives:

  • to give women the confidence to compose brilliant music for brass band
  • to showcase brilliant composition by female composers to our audiences

More details can be found at Harrogate Band’s Women Make Music

Women composers and arrangers identified so far, and there are relatively few of these:

Elaine Agnew, Katie Bell, Judith Bingham, Evangeline Booth, Anne Boyd, May H. Brahe, Helen May Butler, Cheryl Camm, Anita Cocker-Hunt, Jessica Curry, Kirsty Devaney, Helen Douthwaite, Alice G. Edwards, Estelle Flood, Dorothy Freed, Nancy Galbraith, Dorothy Gates, Evelyn Glennie, Sally Greenaway, Irena Grieg, Agnes Heathcote, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Emily Howard, Liz Lane, Anne McGinty, Eileen Mehegan, Ruth Mellor, Katie Moss, Thea Musgrave, Lynda Nicholson, Celestine Oliphant, Lucy Pankhurst, Lynsey Paterson, Emily Peasgood, Helen Perkin, Laura Pettigrew, Andrea Price, Lauren Redhead, Teresa del Riego, Rhian Samuel, Amanda Sandberg, Naomi Styles, Phyllis Tate, Louisa Trewartha, Joan Trimble, Joy Webb, Maude Valerie White, Margaret Lucy Wilkins, Amanda Wilkinson, Amy Woodforde-Finden,

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