The Daily Gamecock

Sunday Freeman Concert seeks to close the gender gap in music

The music faculty took a new look at chamber pieces in the “Women in Music" in the October installment the Freeman Sunday Concerts hosted by the University of South Carolina School of Music. This intimate chamber concert included contrasting pieces that could take students away from their thoughts of class and deadlines.

A recent survey conducted by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra looked at 21 major orchestras and concluded that, in the 2014-15 season, only 1.8 percent of the performances overall were composed by women. That is less than eight female composers out of the total 286 composers.

The USC School of Music decided to close this gender gap a little bit on their Oct. 2 concert, featuring two female composers on their chamber program.

Thomas Palmer, a first-year music composition major, enjoyed the concert and saw the importance of featuring female composers.

“Well, historically, music was a men’s-only thing, and even when women got voting rights and civil rights, and that kind of thing, a lot of them didn't really start entering into music,"  Palmer said. "I think music is one of those forces in the world that helps push things forward." 

Although he was there to support his teacher, Palmer said he liked the music and The Freeman Sunday Concerts enough to have come on his own.

Works from Valerie Coleman, Andrea Clearfield, Randall Thompson and Jean Francaix were presented by the music school’s professional faculty. Slides of Langston Hughes' poetry appeared behind Coleman’s “Portraits of Langston," adding a written aspect to the music and allowing the audience to feel what Coleman felt as she penned the notes. The words of the Harlem Renaissance writer came to life in jazzy rhythms and enticing harmonies.

Clearfield’s piece,Three Songs for Oboe and Double Bass," named for poems by Pablo Neruda,   was accompanied by reading of poetry, painting a picture of the poet’s words in the contrasting movements of the chamber piece.

Daniel Sweaney, the associate professor at the Viola School of Music, performed in the concert and explained the process of how the concerts were thought of and prepared for.

“We plan the concerts in the spring,” Sweaney said. “We usually start preparing individually over the summer and then we start rehearsing the week before.”

Sweaney went on to speak about the importance of this show's focus on women in music.

“I think it’s great," Sweaney said. "I think that women composers and women conductors are doing such amazing things, but not always getting the recognition for it.” 

The next Freeman Sunday Concert, “Mozart to Marimba," will be in USC School of Music Recital Hall  at 3 p.m. on Feb. 5. The February installment will house a mixture of classic masterpieces and contemporary works.