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Women composers

For many years, American composer and pianist Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (1867-1944) was referred to by the stuffy male-composer-oriented musical establishment as Mrs H H A Beach. But she was a trend-setter in several ways. As the first successful American female composer of large-scale art music, her Gaelic Symphony was the first symphony composed and published by an American woman. She was also one of the first successful American composers not to have studied in Europe. As a pianist, she gave successful concerts featuring her own works in Germany and the USA.

Psallite Women's Choir's Autumn Concert - Sunday 7 October 2018, 5pm at St Bartholomew-the-Less Chapel, West Smithfield, London EC1A 7BE, England, features two works by Amy Beach - Dusk in June and her Three Shakespeare Songs.

The concert also features works by two living women composers. Janet Wheeler is a British composer writing primarily choral music, who studied with Robin Holloway and Hugh Wood at Cambridge. She is also a choral conductor, working with choirs in the east of England, and sometimes running choral workshops. Psallite and their conductor Nancy Hadden will perform Janet Wheeler's Sing a song of joy.

Cecilia McDowall was born in London in 1951 and studied music at Edinburgh University and at Trinity College of Music. She studied composition with Joseph Horovitz, Robert Saxton and Adam Gorb. She was taken on by Oxford University Press in 2010 and has been widely commissioned, performed and recorded. Hadden and Psallite will perform McDowall's Deus, qui claro lumine (2005).

Also on the programme are Palestrina's motets Ave regina coelorum and Alma redemptoris mater, Orlando di Lasso's Magnificat Margot labourez les vignes, and madrigals and chansons by Morley, Weelkes, Lassus and Passereau.

Psallite women's choir was formed in 1994 by flautist, singer and conductor Nancy Hadden. She has created an impressive and unusual repertoire of early music for women's voices, drawn from music for high voices and also pieces which Nancy has arranged from music originally for mixed choir.

In recent years the choir has added contemporary music to its programmes, highlighting works by Sally Beamish, Judith Cloud, Jennifer Higdon, Cecilia McDowall, Hilary Tann and Janet Wheeler.

Psallite sings regularly in London and other UK cities; in 2011 the group performed two concerts in Arizona, USA.

The choir's first CD, Ceremonyes of Carolles was released in 2008. It juxtaposes Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols alongside the melodious, vigorous and mystical Medieval and Renaissance lyrics and music which inspired Britten's settings. In 2014 Psallite released its second CD, Judith Cloud's Three Spells, composed especially for Psallite, with motets by Lassus, Victoria, Guerrero and others.

Tickets for this concert cost £10 or £8 concessions, and they're available at the door. Entrance to the chapel is via St Bartholomew's Hospital Henry VIII gate, and the nearest tube stations are Barbican, Farringdon and St Paul's.

Posted: 25 September 2018

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