Project 2020: Women Composers Commission Campaign

About the PROJECT 2020 Commission Initiative

The PROJECT 2020 Women Composer Commission Initiative is a multi-phase initiative which will commission classical art song from 21st C. women composers in an effort to develop the art song genre and secure a place in repertoire for women composers ‘voices’ from across all backgrounds.

By highlighting the exceptional work of women, this initiative aims to assist in the development of relevant, engaging and accessible new works by underrepresented composers with modern female perspectives.

What is PROJECT 2020: A View of 21st C. Women Composers?
PROJECT 2020 is a recital series which represents contemporary viewpoints on modern life, music, creativity, justice, relationships, the environment and spirituality over two seasons through two unique art song programs. It will feature 20 women composers across 2 unique concert programs featuring works composed within the past 20 years - this is PROJECT 2020.

During the approaching 100th Anniversary Year of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment (Aug 18th 2020), this program shines a light on the artistic, social and human contributions of women to society-at-large and the importance of gender parity in the classical music field to ensure a place for all musical voices in the evolving repertoire.

A Desire for Specific Themes and Song Repertoire
As I looked deeper into the repertoire I found that there were still some themes or ideas that I was not finding expressed in song -  a more true expression of a 21st C. woman’s perspective, and furthermore, a more diverse perspective of real life and all of the issues facing women today.  The desire to commission was born.  

Underrepresented 21st C. Art Song Composers
In looking for a more diverse body of composers, I noticed that solo songs for soprano and piano in particular by Black/African-American Women of the 21st C. were not easily found or not nearly as numerous as other from other composer groups or eras.  Perhaps these songs have not published or shared as readily, if they are being composed, or perhaps this group of composers are writing for other musical forces, or, perhaps the databases and resources need to brought up to date...or perhaps there hasn’t been enough support of these composers.  Regardless of the reason, art song by Black women composers for one voice (in my case, soprano) and piano, written in the last 20 years is surprisingly scarce.  I’m not sure exactly why this is, except to look at the racial gender disparities overall in the Classical Music industry.  Given these circumstances, it seemed to me that the PROJECT 2020 Commission Initiative should initiate its first phase and engage in the process of commissioning more of this repertoire, We will also share about the existing body of work by Black/African-American women art song composers to support the artistic endeavors of those who are writing beautifully for voice! 

Phase #1: Black women composers
Actions and Objectives

·      Artist self-contribution in support of Black/African-American women composers and the #BlackLivesMatter movement - $500
·      Seeking to raise Matching Contributions to bring the total to $1000 minimum for Phase #1
·      First Composer Commission: Nailah Nombeko 

·      Additional composers to be commissioned in Phase #1 (Updates will be posted here soon!)
·      Composers and artists will work together to develop at least one 2-3 minute song.  Additional commissions and scope may be expanded.  Additional funding will allow full cycles or larger scale songs to be commissioned. 
·      The PROJECT 2020 Commission Initiative and Recital Series seeks to encourage the development of the Classical Art Song repertoire and secure a place in the repertoire for diverse, relevant musical and artistic voices. 
·      The PROJECT 2020 Commission Initiative and Recital Series seeks to develop artistic partnerships with composers, service organizations, producers, presenting organizations and academic institutions to work together to ensure the survival of the art song genre.  If the art song genre is to survive and expand, we need relevant, expertly crafted, repertoire from all of the voices in this era.

Future Goals

·       Develop Program Three in the series which will feature all new works commissioned and developed by the Project 2020 Commission Initiative.

·       Produce a commercial recording of all works presented in the Project 2020 Recital Series, including new works developed through the Commission Initiative. 

·       Expand the PROJECT 2020 Series to include an expanded artist roster in newly produced programs of art song by women composers of the past 20 years. 

2020: The New Age of Art Song

I believe in the power of song.  Now, more than ever, artists must find musical opportunities to reach audiences through simple, honest, expressive mediums.  
I believe that the COVID-19 pandemic and the social and racial awakenings and important changes that are happening in our country could usher in a New Age of Art Song, for the classical music industry and across genres.

If we can’t safely sing in concert halls or choirs or on the operatic stage, we must use video and multimedia platforms to reach audiences. The genre of art song, using one voice and one instrument, can be supremely effective through this medium. We have the opportunity to usher in a New Age of Art Song - a simple, intimate, deeply effective medium that can be expressed well, at a high artistic level, with simple musical forces, and even ’socially-distanced’.
I ask you to join me in support of living women composers, and particularly Black women composers at this time by contributing to the Commission Initiative in any amount. 

Other Ways To Support the Commission Initiative:

with your institution, community or venue.
- Engage PROJECT 2020
to perform at your institution or venue or through your online venue. 
- COMMIT TO PROGRAM Vocal Music of Living Black Women Composers.
- INITIATE Your own commissioning project. 
Thank you!
Jennifer Sgroe, Soprano/D.M.A
Eric Sedgwick, Collaborative Pianist/Coach


Jennifer Sgroe
Salem, MA

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