NEWS: INTRODUCING THE Boulanger Initiative + WoCo (Women Composers) Festival (Mar. 8-10, 2019; D.C.)

Joy-Leilani Garbutt, left, Laura Colgate, right. Credit: Geoff Sheil.

Joy-Leilani Garbutt, left, Laura Colgate, right. Credit: Geoff Sheil.

CELEBRATING, PERFORMING, AND SUPPORTING MUSIC COMPOSED BY WOMEN

The Boulanger Initiative, co-founded by violinist Dr. Laura Colgate and organist/musicologist Joy-Leilani Garbutt, is a rapidly growing, DC-based start-up on a mission to promote music by women, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming artists. There is no other comparable organization and the need and desire for it couldn’t be better exemplified than by the more than dozen qualified volunteers and advisors who’ve rushed in to launch it Together, they are building three divisions:

Performance: The inaugural WoCo Festival opens runs this weekend, March 8-10, 2019 at DC’s Blind Whino and AMP by Strathmore. Festival headliners are Jennifer Koh and Missy Mazzoli co-presented by Strathmore Performing Arts Center, and the Grammy-nominated Aizuri Quartet. The performances feature international artists, and are surrounded by educational events, panel discussions, workshops, female-owned food trucks, training session booths for professional development.

Education: The Boulanger Initiative has joined the member roster of the DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative, which will help launch a pilot program to DC-area elementary schools. BI Ambassadors have already begun presenting programs of music composed by women & trans artists at DC-area colleges and universities, and the program will continue to expand nationally in the coming season.

Commissions: Supporting the composition and performance of new music through commissions, BI aims to foster awareness, create opportunity, and inspire creativity. This division will commence once the series and education outreach is well underway.

Says Co-Founder Joy-Leilani Garbutt, “There is so much incredible music that has been composed by women & trans artists, and the vast majority of it is undeservedly unknown. We want to enrich the musical landscape so that we can benefit in the present, and shape future opportunities for the next generation of composers. Recalling Sarah Grimké’s famous quote, Co-Founder Laura Colgate adds, “We ask no favors for our gender, but we will not surrender our right to be heard.”

The Boulanger Initiative Team has just over a dozen core volunteers transitioning to paid staff, a Leadership Circle consisting of Advisors, and an Inclusion Advisory Council facilitated by a trans person of color.

PRESS

Anne Midgette for the Washington Post: “ Why do we need a festival of women’s music? The statistics offer an eloquent answer. In the 2014-2015 season, only 1.8 percent of the music performed by the top 22 American orchestras was by women, according to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. For the coming season of 2019-2020, the Institute for Composer Diversity at the State University of New York has surveyed 40 American orchestras and seen a slightly better number of 6.5 percent — perhaps reflecting a degree of consciousness-raising in the past few years, as well as a larger pool of orchestras. Orchestras, obviously, are only one part of the classical music world, but these statistics reflect an ongoing underrepresentation of women in the field that increasingly, but slowly, some are trying to correct…The problem, of course, is even more acute when it comes to historical figures. A number of people believe that the whole point of classical music ensembles is to perform an established canon of masterworks — written almost exclusively by men. Too few realize that this canon was not shaped entirely by artistic merit. There were plenty of periods when women were active as composers. They just happened to get left out of the history books.”

Stephanie Williams for the Washington Post Express:Colgate encourages skeptics who think classical music isn’t for them to attend at least part of the festival — it might just have them singing a different tune.”

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I N A U G U R A L F E S T I V A L P R O G R A M S

Friday, March 8. Friday features violist/composer Jessica Meyer and soprano Alexandra Smither–one of CBC’s “30 Young Hot Classical Musicians Under 30”–performing before the headliner concert with Jennifer Koh and Missy Mazzoli.

Saturday, March 9. Saturday’s concerts begin with the Beachy Head Collective—Amanda Jacobs, Shelley Waite, and Elizabeth Dolan--performing their Charlotte Smith song cycle. Cellist Amanda Gookin of PUBLIQuartet is featured in a program of guided meditation & music. Washington, DC native and acclaimed composer Alexandra Gardner will present her works performed by Kyle Jones, Sarah Hertick, and Sarah Manley. Presentations by composers Lucy Yao, Danielle Buonaiuto, Frances White, and Elizabeth Brown will precede Boulanger Initiative Ambassadors Sound Impact and the all-women string quartet Rhythm Method. The Aizuri Quartet will headline Saturday night’s concert.

Sunday, March 10. A grand finale performance by Washington Women in Jazz and Friends at AMP by Strathmore concludes the WoCo Festival. The concert will highlight the works of composer-performers who have been featured in previous Washington Women in Jazz concerts, as well as fresh collaborations with Arco Belo.

Tickets are available as follows: Full Festival passes, Individual Day Passes, or Individual Event Passes.

C A L E N D A R L I S T I N G S

Friday, March 8
Blind Whino DC

Tickets - Festival pass, day pass, or individual events

3:00pm-7:00pm
Jessica Meyer, viola & composer Alexandra Smither, soprano

8:00pm
Jennifer Koh, violin
Missy Mazzoli, composer

Saturday, March 9
Blind Whino DC

Tickets - Festival pass, day pass, or individual events

11:15am-7:00pm
Beachy Head Collective—Amanda Jacobs, Shelley Waite, and Elizabeth Dolan
Amanda Gookin, cellist of PUBLIQuartet—Music & Meditation
Alexandra Gardner with Kyle Jones, Sarah Hertick, and Sarah Manley
Lucy Yao, Danielle Buonaiuto, Frances White, and Elizabeth Brown—Composer’s Workshop Sound Impact, Rhythm Method

8:00 pm
The Aizuri Quartet

Sunday, March 10
Strathmore’s AMP Nightclub

Tickets

7:00pm
Washington Women in Jazz & Friends

V E N U E S + C R E D I T S

Blind Whino DC
700 Delaware Ave SW Washington, DC 20024

AMP by Strathmore
11810 Grand Park Ave North Bethesda, MD 20852

Founding sponsors and supporters of the festival include Strathmore, The Clarice, Capital Percussion, and Green Stairwell Concert Series. Early access and VIP tickets will go on sale this week, with tickets available to the general the following week. Boulanger Initiative is currently fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, and receives legal guidance from Hogan Lovells US, LLP.

Sarah Knight