Australian composer Melody Eötvös has been chosen to take part in a showcase for works by women composers in Philadelphia. The program, a partnership between The Philadelphia Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra, will see The Philadelphia Orchestra rehearse works by six women composers as part of a collaborative working session.

“I was very excited to find out I’d been selected for this opportunity,” Eötvös – whose latest work, Ruler of the Hive, had its premiere earlier this month with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra – told Limelight. “The application was due during a very busy week for me (leading up to my recent trip to Australia) and I nearly didn’t get to it! Luckily for me the ACO is brilliant and uncomplicated with their application procedures! I’m also thrilled to be involved with the ACO again, and with the Philadelphia Orchestra this will certainly be a wonderful and informative reading.”

Melody Eötvös, ComposerComposer Melody Eötvös

The Philadelphia Orchestra came under fire recently for announcing a 2018-2019 season without a single work written by a woman, but the Orchestra has since responded by adding the US premiere of Stacey Brown’s Perspectives and the world premiere of Anna Clyne’s Masquerade to the line-up.

“Identifying and collaborating with living composers from all backgrounds is of paramount importance to our organisation and for the future evolution of this art form,” said Jeremy Rothman, Vice President of Artistic Planning for The Philadelphia Orchestra. “Our goal is for these readings to foster dialogue between composers and musicians, provide valuable tools for composers to have their works heard and promoted, and spark deeper relationships with a broader selection of composers.”

The composers – Eötvös, Hilary Purrington, Chen-Hui Jen, Robin Holcomb, Xi Wang and Nina C. Young – will have their works read and recorded by Assistant Conductor Kensho Watanabe at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. They will also participate in meetings with Orchestra leadership and roundtable conversations with the Orchestra’s Artistic Committee and mentor composers, and receive feedback from co-facilitators, ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner.

The Philadelphia Orchestra will play Eötvös’s The Saqqara Bird, which the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra premiered in 2016. “I’m very curious to see what the dynamic of the reading will be like,” said Eötvös. “I know one other composer involved (Nina), and have worked with Derek Bermel (mentoring composer) a few times before as well – Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong (2014), and the Underwood New Music Readings in New York (2015) – so I’m looking forward to discussing everyone’s music with this group and connecting with the various industry representatives and conductors invited.”

“I’m also eager to explore this composition (premiered by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in 2016) again and get new feedback on it,” she said. “As always, a performance or future commission would also be very welcomed!”

“I can’t understate how important meetings like this are,” Eötvös said. “I’ve very luckily (and persistently!) been involved in readings, workshops, and schools that all somehow crossover in personnel, supporting organisations, or through recommendations and they’ve ended up being the cornerstones in my career development.”