Arts / Music

Women take centrestage for music festival

An eclectic program will be presented at Tempo Rubato

Mindy Meng Wang, a leading exponent of the guzheng, will perform on the second night of the festival. Photo: Jordan Munn

Poppy Searle
Tuesday, March 19, 2024

A THREE-DAY festival celebrating women in jazz and classical music will come to Brunswick this week.

Music, She Wrote, presented by community radio station 3MBS at Tempo Rubato in Breese Street, has been carefully curated by baroque and modern viola player Katie Yap.

The festival, which begins on Wednesday, is a celebration of the artistic achievements and talents of women composers and musicians.

Central to the mission of Music, She Wrote is the challenge to address the underrepresentation of women in classical and jazz performance.

“I want to get to a stage where it feels kind of absurd to celebrate a segment of society,” Yap, who is curating her fourth and final festival, said.

“It would be weird to celebrate men and music because it’s so ubiquitous, but our voices aren’t heard.”

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Music, She Wrote came to life during the challenging times of 2021, when the pandemic severely impacted the arts sector by limiting access to performances.

The festival emerged as a platform for creativity and resilience, focusing on the talents of female composers and musicians.

“3MBS approached me and said, ‘We need to put on a festival celebrating women in music’,” Yap said.

“We had six weeks to put on a festival and to make it from scratch.”

The event was a success with all three performances completely sold out.

Yap has incorporated the theme of memory into this year’s program. Drawing inspiration from ancient Greek mythology, in particular Mnemosyne, the Goddess of Memory, the program explores the significance of memory in musical storytelling.

Yap explained that memory was crucial in music, as it lay at the heart of our narratives and guided us through the complex tapestry of sound.

Each of the diverse performances in the 2024 program offers a different take on the theme of memory through music.

The first night showcases a newly formed trio called Moirai. Their show, ‘Mother Lines’ looks at how natural it is for mothers to sing to their babies.

For the concert titled ‘The Wave In The Mind’ on Thursday, Yap and double bassist Helen Svoboda collaborate with Mindy Meng Wang, a leading exponent of the guzheng, a type of chinese zither. Together, they will create an evening of storytelling through improvisation, drawing from their diverse jazz, Chinese and baroque influences.

The festival will culminate with a performance by baroque music ensemble Latitude 37 titled ‘The Phoenix and the Queen’. This concert shares music by female composers, the ill-fated  Queen Ann Boleyn, brilliant nun Isabella Leonarda, and child prodigy Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. The concert will feature baroque works alongside modern music created through a 17th century lens, by Brooke Green.

“It would be weird to celebrate men and music because it’s so ubiquitous, but our voices aren’t heard.”
– Music, She Wrote curator Katie Yap (pictured)

This year, Music, She Wrote will be held at Tempo Rubato, a vibrant and centrally-located venue in Brunswick.

“Tempo Rubato is a favourite of mine,” Yap said.

“It’s a female-run institution – and provides a welcoming space for artists and audiences alike.”

Yap expressed her hope that festival audiences would be able to discover the richness of music beyond the conventional repertoire, adding that she hoped audiences would realise the immense talent and diversity within the works of female composers.

As her time as artistic director of Music, She Wrote comes to an end, she envisions a legacy of empowerment. “I would like to leave a sense of celebration – of local ensembles, and of female voices in western classical music.”

More information and tickets are available at the Music, She Wrote website.