Acclaimed Musicians Honor Women’s History Month

Ulrike Anton presented “If Only She Were a Man: Women Composers From the 18th to 21st century” in the Bennett Auditorium Tuesday in celebration of Women’s History Month. -Morgan Covington

In celebration of Women’s History Month, renowned flutist Ulrike Anton, accompanied by pianist Russell Ryan, presented “If Only She Were a Man: Women Composers From the 18th to 21st century” in Bennett Auditorium Tuesday.

Anton’s lecture featured the musical compositions of six different, relatively unknown female composers, and highlighted the struggles that these women encountered for being women in a male-dominated field.

The lecture-recital also included performances of these women’s rarely performed works from Ulrike and Ryan, and it gave attendees the opportunity to explore these contributions to chamber music.

The program celebrated the works of composers Anna Amalia von Preußen, Leopoldine Blahetka, Nancy van de Vate, Gabriele Proy, Mel Bonis and Grete von Zieritz.

The goal of this project is to increase the public’s awareness of the important musical contributions of these composers, but also to examine the societal challenges of composing as a woman over the past four centuries,” said Edward Hafer, an associate professor of music history.

Anton echoed and aptly restated the lecture title when she quoted the criticism given to one of the composers in her presentation stating,  “If only she were a man” in reference to the mindset toward talented female composers.

When we put this program together, it was really fascinating to discover these pieces from a performance point of view,” Anton said. “But of course researching the biographies (of the composers) was also extremely interesting as it revealed many of the difficulties that women had to overcome when aiming for a career as a composer.”

Anton and Ryan have both performed and taught at some of the highest levels and have been concertizing internationally since 2005. They have performed in cities throughout Europe, China and the U.S. Both Anton and Ryan annually teach together at the Summer Music Program of IES Abroad (Institute for the International Education of Students) in Vienna.

Ulrike Anton and Russell Ryan have established international reputations as performers of the highest caliber,” Hafer said.

The event was made possible by the Mississippi Humanities Council through the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by support from The University of Southern Mississippi Honors College, the Austrian Cultural Forum New York and the Austrian Consulate General Los Angeles.