In Honour of International Women’s Day

We mark the International Women’s Day with a programme that includes works by two notable women who fought for the recognition of female composers in a then male-dominated musical world.

  • Ethyl Smyth – The Wreckers (Overture)
  • Ruth Gipps – Horn Concerto, soloist Annemarie Federle
  • Shostakovich – Symphony No.5

Dame Ethyl Smyth was a suffragette as well as a composer, and her operatic work The Wreckers tells the story of ships plundered when lured onto the rocks of the Cornish Coast. This dramatic overture is a perfect encapsulation of the exciting story to come.

Ruth Gipps studied at the Royal College of Music with Vaughan Williams and Gordon Jacob, composing in a romantic style. She fought against discrimination against women, by which her early career was affected. Gipps’ Horn Concerto, written for her son Lance Baker, is played by soloist Annemarie Federle, the brass category finalist in the BBC Young Musician 2020.

Dmitri Shostakovich was a composer who also suffered from the negative attention of the authorities. He described his wonderful Fifth Symphony, which concludes the concert, “an artist's creative response to justified criticism” but remarkably, it gained an unprecedented triumph, with the music appealing equally to both the public and official critics, and its premiere in 1937 received an ovation which lasted over half an hour.