Suffrage In Song: Nashville's Classical Music Celebrates The Centennial Of The 19th Amendment | Nashville Public Radio

Suffrage In Song: Nashville's Classical Music Celebrates The Centennial Of The 19th Amendment

Aug 13, 2019

Beginning this fall, Nashville will be marking the approaching centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Nashville's classical music organizations are contributing their artistry throughout this series of events, with concerts of new and old works plus community engagement projects citywide.

The Nashville Symphony begins this October with a complete program of music by female composers throughout history. This program includes music by Clara Schumann, whose bicentennial year is also noteworthy in 2019. Each of these pieces will be introduced by women in classical music.

The Symphony will also wrap up the entire set of festivities the following September with their 2020-2021 season opener: a premiere of a newly co-commissioned piece by Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Wolfe. This new piece is specially composed to include the voices of Boston's all-female vocal group Lorelai Ensemble positioned within the orchestra. The piece will then be performed by four other orchestras across the country that same season.

Nashville Symphony COO Steven Brosvik is looking forward to seeing Wolfe's vision come to life in Nashville. "Based on what we know of Julia Wolfe's work, she's a great musician who is very aware of her artistic surroundings and has an uncanny ability to work with partners who help create her vision onstage."

Nashville Ballet's NB2 continues to perform their piece 72 Steps with a tour in Metro Nashville Public Schools. The piece depicts the entire fight for the 19th amendment over 72 years, starting from the Seneca Falls convention in 1848. With choreography by Gina Patterson and innovative music by Nashville-based composer Jordan Hamlin, the work goes beyond the scope of storytelling to show the power of a call to action, and the importance of breaking down barriers.

Contemporary-focused classical music collective Intersection celebrates powerful women throughout 2020 with their initiative titled Listen, in which the ensemble, directed by Kelly Corcoran, will shine a spotlight on the voices of women.

The first of these Listen concerts, titled Journey, is this February. It will explore the connections between the fight for the 19th Amendment and the civil rights movement by placing music by Florence Price alongside Nkeiru Okoye's opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line To Freedom. As Intersection often does, they will pair the performance with educational events throughout the month. In April, Intersection will perform Musica Nueve, featuring works by Tania Leon and Ileana Perez Velasquez. Listen will continue into August 2020 with a yet-unnamed work commissioned for Intersection alongside dance ensemble New Dialect.

Nashville Repertory's June 2020 evening A Celebration of Women's Suffrage will include original works on the subject. Song, dance, and spoken word creations by local performers will be featured in this one-night-only event.

In August 2020 the Tennessee State Museum will host Nashville Opera for Songs of Suffrage, a semi-staged telling of the suffrage story. An all-local cast will perform songs written both in support of and against the movement. These pieces of music are being collected from the State Museum archives by Nashville Opera's Director of Education Anna Young and Artistic Director John Hoomes, who said, "These authentic Songs of Suffragettes give voice to both sides of this important issue, but ultimately celebrate the victory of women receiving the right to vote.”

Over 40 organizations will be participating in Nashville's celebration of this milestone, with dozens of events on the calendar. For a complete list of participants, click here.