Summer CSGC Grant Update: Uplifting Classical Women Composers

For the remainder of the summer, we continued working on biographies for the women composers we are highlighting in our book and consulted Mr. Bergeron on the finer details of music-book-making. Originally, our list of composers consisted largely of white women, but after Mr. Bergeron advised us to look into film music and contemporary music, we made it our goal to include more women of color. We have decided to look into the scores of Germain Franco (Encanto), Penar Toperock (Captain Marvel), and Angela Morely (The Little Prince). We will also be expanding our repertoire to Jessie Montgomery and Reena Esmail, two female composers we played in Honors Chamber Music! Even though contemporary music is known for extended techniques, unconventional rhythm, and unsingable melodies, we look forward to taking advantage of this to introduce useful techniques such as pizzicato (string plucking), and difficult rhythms.

Since our first book is dedicated to violinists, Daphne is taking the lead on arranging and editing the music. We will continue consulting our music teachers with our questions once the school year begins, since we have various technical questions about sheet-music creation. Many concerns we have run into are related to fingerings and music markings: should we prioritize convenience or sound? To what detail should we describe a technique? Would a translation for the Italian tempo markings suffice or should we add a specific metronome marking? Should we allow room for the musician to explore the music themselves, or should we add more of our interpretations? We plan to finalize the contents as the school year begins and use our remaining funds to publish and print the book. Throughout the school year we will visit middle schools around Deerfield to discuss women composers in music as well as distribute our book.

Ms. Wei gave us an incredible opportunity this September to collaborate with her on a presentation at a women in music conference hosted by the Hampshire music club. The organizers have given us lots of creative freedom over the project, so once we get back on campus, we plan to meet with Ms. Wei to begin preparing our program, which will include both a speaking and a playing aspect. Some pieces we are considering to perform are Romance for Violin and Piano, Op. 23 by Amy Beach, Pastorale Enfantine by Cecile Chaminade, The White Peony, a Taiwanese folk song arranged by Qian-Hui Hong, and selected piano works by Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn, and more.

We are also working with Mr. Bergeron and the music department on a Women in Music concert, forthcoming in the spring of 2024. Deerfield can look forward to an event that includes as many aspects of the music department as possible, including solo, chamber, orchestral, and vocal works.

-Daphne ’25, Chloe ’25, and Liv ’25