Project W: Works by Diverse Women Composers

Project W: Works by Diverse Women Composers

by Mei-Ann ChenMei-Ann Chen


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This release by the Chicago Sinfonietta reproduces a concert of music by women, Project W, subtitled "Hear Me Roar" presumably for the benefit of Helen Reddy fans. It lived up to billing in several ways: Taiwanese-born conductor Mei-Ann Chen has an inspiring story that began with her parents telling her a girl couldn't be a conductor, and the Chicago Sinfonietta, of which she has been conductor for some years, has outstripped other ensembles in its inclusion of women musicians (they now make up almost half the group). The strongest aspect of the concert, though, was not simply that it included music by women but that it made musical sense while doing so. With one exception, all the music celebrates dance in one way or another. Chen is at her considerable best in the opening work, William Grant Still's arrangement of Florence Price's 1953 piano pieces entitled "Dances in the Canebrakes." Price's later music, almost completely neglected in her own time, is being rediscovered to fine effect, and Chen downplays the basic African-American folk rhythms in favor of the music's subtlety of phrasing. Sample the wonderful "Tropical Noon." The work ends with another explicitly dance-oriented work, "Dance Card," by the popular contemporary composer Jennifer Higdon. In between, you get a strongly rhythmic work from Clarice Assad, one of a truly astonishing Brazilian family group; the "Coincident Dances" of the young New York composer Jessie Montgomery; and two works by Indian-American Reena Esmail, only one of which fits the general mood. The other is called "#metoo," and it is a dramatic, angry work, although it originally, like Penderecki's "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima," had an entirely different title. The longest work on the program, it has the heft to serve as a serious centerpiece flanked by lighter music, and throughout the program Chen and the musicians benefit from an X factor of enthusiasm for the music. Recommended.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/08/2019
Label: Cedille
UPC: 0735131918527
catalogNumber: 185
Rank: 76848


  1. Dance Card, for orchestra
  2. #metoo, for orchestra
  3. Charukeshi Bandish, for voice & orchestra
  4. Coincident Dances, for orchestra
  5. Sin Fronteras, for orchestra
  6. Dances in the Canebrakes, for piano

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