The works of composers Madeleine Dring, Fanny Mendelssohn, Amy Beach, Ingrid Stölzel and Lori Laitman will be performed at the upcoming Con Brio Chamber Series concerts. (Courtesy Photos | Con Brio)

The works of composers Madeleine Dring, Fanny Mendelssohn, Amy Beach, Ingrid Stölzel and Lori Laitman will be performed at the upcoming Con Brio Chamber Series concerts. (Courtesy Photos | Con Brio)

Concerts bring music by women out of the shadows

Con Brio Chamber Series presents ‘gems’ by overlooked composers

There won’t be any wild-haired or powdered-wig-wearing men that one might think of when conjuring up images of classical composers.

This weekend, concerts will be placing female composers front and center.

A pair of upcoming concerts will look beyond the titanic figures most remember from intro to music courses and instead spotlight overlooked “gems” written by female composers.

Sally Schlichting, on flute, left, and Jetta Whittaker, on oboe, rehearse for the Con Brio Chamber Series’ concert of music by women composers at Northern Light United Church on Sept. 17, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sally Schlichting, on flute, left, and Jetta Whittaker, on oboe, rehearse for the Con Brio Chamber Series’ concert of music by women composers at Northern Light United Church on Sept. 17, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

“One of the composers is Fanny Mendelssohn, who was the sister of Felix Mendelssohn, who was one of those giants we are so blinded by — the Bachs, Beethovens, Tchaikovskies and Rachmaninoffs of the world,” Sally Schlichting, flutist and organizer of the Con Brio Chamber Series, said in a phone interview. “They’re sort of like these towering giants who just kind of block from view the talent of these other tremendous composers. You just never get around to hearing these other incredible works.”

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Schlichting said bringing lesser-known compositions to Juneau audiences is generally a goal of the Con Brio Chamber Series, but the concerts Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22 come with an extra twist beyond the all-woman composer theme — all the works will also be performed by women.

“I was approached by a couple of musicians, and they said, ‘Hey, Sally wouldn’t be great to do a concert of all women composers,’ and I said, ‘Of course it would,” Schlichting said. “I think the challenge just was trying to choose pieces because there’s a lot of great works out there by women composers.”

Nancy Nash, on piano, Sally Schlichting, on flute, and Jetta Whittaker, on oboe, rehearse for the Con Brio Chamber Series’ concert of music by women composers at Northern Light United Church on Sept. 17, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Nancy Nash, on piano, Sally Schlichting, on flute, and Jetta Whittaker, on oboe, rehearse for the Con Brio Chamber Series’ concert of music by women composers at Northern Light United Church on Sept. 17, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

However, Schlichting said performers settled on a century-spanning and stylistically diverse setlist fairly quickly.

Performers will be violinist Lindsay Clark, pianist Mei Xue, soprano Sara Radke Brown, cellist Meghan Johnson, oboist Jetta Whitaker, pianist Nancy Nash, violist Stephanie McDermott, violinist Lisa Ibias and Schlichting.

“All of these women are teachers,” Schlichting said. “It’s really wonderful to do this program with them because they’re involved in cultivating the next generation of string musicians.”

They will be playing the works of Amy Beach, Lori Laitman, Madeleine Dring, Ingrid Stölzel and Mendelssohn.

Nancy Nash, on piano, left, and Sally Schlichting, on flute, rehearse for the Con Brio Chamber Series’ concert of music by women composers at Northern Light United Church on Sept. 17, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Nancy Nash, on piano, left, and Sally Schlichting, on flute, rehearse for the Con Brio Chamber Series’ concert of music by women composers at Northern Light United Church on Sept. 17, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Schlichting said playing the work of those composers not only lines up with the Con Brio series’ goal, it also fits in with cultural trends.

“In the last several years there’s been a surge of women’s voices in prominence in society, in politics, in art and all fields,” Schlichting said. “It is certainly a great time to do a concert of all women composers, but in my mind it’s always a great time to do a concert of all women composers.”

Know & Go

What: Con Brio Chamber Series: Music of Women Performed by Women

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21 and 3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 22.

Where: Northern Light United Church, 400 W. 11th St.

Admission: Both performances are pay as you can, and donations are welcome to help cover costs.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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