In 2018 The Karlheinz Company celebrated Suffrage 125 with a concert of women's music, as part of the annual University of Auckland School of Music Festival. This celebration concert brought together School of Music students, staff, alumni and some very special guests to perform works by female composers from New Zealand and abroad.
Here's a run down of three of the six works:
Leonie Holmes - Dance of the Wintersmith
Dance of the Wintersmith draws inspiration from the book Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett.
Holmes, a Senior Lecturer in Composition and Theory, describes the story:
“A young girl training to be a witch is taken into the middle of a forest to witness a dark Morris Dance of otherworldly men. Losing herself in the dance, she ends up joining in, disrupting the natural balance of the seasons and causing a cascade of icy problems, which turn ever more deadly for mortals as the besotted Wintersmith searches the world for her.”
She goes on to comment: “As in all Pratchett’s books, the tale is fantastical and very funny, whilst still containing some pertinent messages on the follies of humankind.”
The work was written especially for Andrew Beer and Sarah Watkins and was a finalist in the 2018 Sounz Contemporary Award.
Louise Webster - Cries of Kathmandu
Already a paediatrician, at the time of this concert Louise Webster was also completing another doctorate (DMus in Composition) at the Auckland School of Music .
In her poetic programme notes for Cries of Kathmandu Webster writes:
“Kathmandu, city of the Gods; mountains, running water, shrines, and animals; the intense quick-green of grasses rising to meet the monsoon rain; people working, singing, worshipping a multitude of Gods and Goddesses. A city of bustle, noise, filth, beggars, tourists, holy men, mountain-struck climbers and shop-keepers; where the dead are cremated on the banks of the Bagmati River, butter lamps burn at Swayambhunath, and the sounds of chanting and turning prayer wheels fill the air.”
Cries of Kathmandu was originally commissioned for a performance by the Song Company of Australia and the New Zealand String Quartet at the 2015 Adam Chamber Music Festival. Here's a performance from that Festival.
Kaija Saariaho - Prelude for Piano
In the early 70s, Kaija Saariaho was the only woman in her composition class at the Paarvo Academy in Helsinki and she was confronted with the realities of life as a female composer. There were some teachers who refused to teach her, claiming it was a waste of time. "You're a pretty girl. What are you doing here?" Saariaho remembers one of them saying.
Her Prelude for Piano is one of only three works she has written for solo piano. It’s a study of scintillating high register tintinnabulations and virtuoso passagework unfolding over an obsessively repetitive two-note utterance.