Looking for a way to celebrate International Women’s Day? Well look no further. Just when you thought there wasn’t room for another festival in Montreal, Stella Musica has arrived on the scene to celebrate and showcase women in music.
The brainchild of pianist Katarzyna Musial and OSM Assistant Conductor Dina Gilbert, Stella Musica has the dual goal of showcasing historical works by women composers and encouraging up-and-coming female performers and composers. The festival will launch on March 13 with a concert featuring some well-known works (by Vivaldi and Barber, for example) as well as pieces by less familiar artists such as Montrealers Vania Angelova and Marie-Claire Saindon, among others. Performers include Musial, as well as Krystina Marcoux , who won First Prize at the prestigious OSM Standard Life competition in 2012; Ensemble Arkea, conducted by Gilbert; and the 4ailes Quartet.
While the concert promises to be a highlight of the classical music season, Musial and Gilbert have a bigger vision: their goal is to eventually host a week-long festival including masterclasses, networking events, and several concerts. Eventually they’d also like to include the other arts.
Having started in the music profession at the age of seven, Musial knows from first-hand experience that women have to work much harder than men to be accepted into the classical music world. Female conductors and soloists, especially, are still disproportionately rare. “Audiences are used to seeing a man at the podium, and are not accustomed to seeing a woman lead an orchestra,” says Musial. “Many people would like to know more works by female composers. Even Clara Schumann, who was so talented as both a composer and a performer, was under the shadow of her husband, Robert Schumann.”
Now of course things are much better for women in the classical music world than they were in the 19th century and earlier. But because the classical repertoire is focused so much on the past, women composers are rarely played. So it’s that much harder for new composers, especially if they’re women, to get recognition. The perceived difficulty of modern music doesn’t help to attract the public, either.
Stella Musica is not about activism, however. As Musial explains, “It’s all about compromise. We include well-known pieces on the program so that the public will hear works they know, and at the same time they will be exposed to great works by composers like Amy Beach, and Montrealers Angelova and Saindon. The focus is on showcasing, entertaining, supporting, and educating. It’s all about celebrating the wonderful contribution of women to classical music.”
Stella Musica launches Friday March 13 at Théâtre Outremont (1248 Bernard Ave. West). Call 514-495-9944 or follow this link: HERE and use the promo code “StellaVIP2015” to get discounted VIP tickets ($70 +tax instead of $100) and regular tickets ($20 +tax instead of $43). VIP tickets guarantee you the best seats available, as well as a free cocktail reception after the concert with the performing artists as well as the Desjardins group.