Tag Archives: Hill House Chamber Players

Why Are Pioneering Female Composers So Neglected?

I’m embarrassed by how late this is, but here’s a reminder announcement:

May first and May eighth, starting at 6:45pm, I’m giving a pre-concert talk at the James J. Hill House in St. Paul for the Hill House Chamber Players (most of whom are current or former Minnesota Orchestra players).

  • All the details, including ticket information, are here.
  • You can like their Facebook page, and read up on the women featured, here.

The program includes music by Lili Boulanger, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and Gabriel Fauré. Fauré and Bach are my two favorite composers, so it’s a deeply meaningful program to me, and I hope to you, too. It certainly is a beautiful one.

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Hill House Chamber Players Concert!

Hey, guys! Anything new since my last entry in…November? Good. I’m glad everything has been so serene and uneventful.

Sorry about the break. I swear it has been unintentional. I’ve just been swamped by stuff in my personal life, the details of which I will not bore you with, and suddenly it’s March and we’re a few weeks away from planting our potted pansies. I’m alive, I’m well, and I’ll probably resurface in the blogosphere soon.

But I’m not writing about my not writing. I’m writing to remind you of the Hill House Chamber Players, a group I was honored to be asked to give pre-concert talks for during the 17/18 concert season. The Players consist of star Twin Cities musicians (including a few Minnesota Orchestra members) performing at the James J. Hill House on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Their next concerts are being held Monday March 6 and Monday March 13th. Both nights feature the same marvelous programming: works by Mozart, Clara Schumann, and Rebecca Clarke. Pre-concert talks start at 6:45; the concert itself begins at 7:30.

I’ve got a copy of the script right next to me. If I was to give a bland description, I’d say it’s about the dual careers of Clara Schumann and Rebecca Clarke. If I was to give a slightly more provocative description, I’d say it’s about how the romantic hero great composer archetype (as personified by Beethoven) robs listeners of inspiring musical voices, including those of women. If any of that intrigues you, I’ll see you on Monday!

Also, you should like HHCP’s new Facebook page for news, reminders, and tidbits about the works they’re spotlighting.

More information about the concert and the season here!


Clara Wieck Schumann, here seen gazing dolefully at you, wondering why you aren’t coming to hear her work performed by some of the greatest musicians in the Twin Cities



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Women of Note at St. Paul’s Hill House!

Here are some of my favorite things:

  • Chamber music
  • Female composers
  • the Minnesota Orchestra
  • Minnesota history
  • Architecture
  • the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul
  • Post-concert refreshments

Lucky for me, all of those passions are combining in a single project this season. The Hill House Chamber Players are devoting their 2016/2017 season to spotlighting works by women, and they invited me to give a pre-concert talk before every show.

The Hill House Chamber Players consist of some of the area’s most talented musicians, including some Minnesota Orchestra players. Together they perform in the James J. Hill House gallery, which used to be lined with art now at Mia. (I once heard a rumor that Jules Breton’s painting The Song of the Lark – which Willa Cather featured in her novel by the same name – hung in the Hill House gallery for a while, but I’ve never been able to prove or disprove that…) It’s a very cozy and intimate venue, and I’m really looking forward to chatting with audiences there.

Here’s the schedule:

October 10 & 17, 2016

  • Amy Beach: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F-sharp minor, Op 67
  • Judith Lang Zaimont: Calendar Collection for Solo Piano (excerpts)
  • Robert Schumann: Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Opus 44

March 6 & 13, 2017

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K.493
  • Rebecca Clarke: Viola Sonata
  • Clara Wieck Schumann: Piano Trio in G minor, Op 17

May 1 & 8, 2017

  • Lili Boulanger: Two Morceaux: Nocturne and Cortege
  • Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Piano Trio in D minor, Op 11
  • Gabriel Faure: Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op 15

For more information on the season, and for pricing, click here!

I want to thank the HHCP for having the guts to commit so wholeheartedly to their theme. When was the last time you heard of a chamber music series season that consists of two-thirds female composers?

It’s a little early to know for sure, but it feels like works by women are gaining ground locally this year. Not only are the HHCPs committing wholeheartedly, but The Musical Offering is presenting works by Elsa Barraine and Lili Boulanger as part of their broader 2016/2017 theme of “Emigrés and Mentors.” If you have more examples of recent or upcoming local concerts featuring the work of women, please post in the comments!

I’m optimistic that one of these decades, works by women might even show up in a meaningful way at a big-budget organization like the Minnesota Orchestra. But until they do, support your local chamber music scene. Inevitably, chamber music is where innovation starts.

I look forward to seeing you guys at the Hill House!


Filed under Women In Music