A ‘Call to Women Composers’

Some months ago I was approached by Rose McLachlan, a gifted pianist who is currently studying at the Royal Northern College of Music. Rose wanted to discuss an idea she was developing with EVC Music founder Elena Cobb

’22 Nocturnes for Chopin’ would be a new collection of piano miniatures written in the spirit of the great composer’s works, suitable for players at advanced level (around UK Grades 6-8), and to that end Rose and Elena would extend a “call to women composers” around the world, inviting submissions for consideration.

The eventual selection would be performed by Rose and published by EVC Music. Some half dozen pieces would be commissioned from established composers, while the rest would be previously unpublished.

Rose and Elena were keen for me to help with the selection process, and I had soon agreed to Chair the Selection Committee, which came to include the concert pianist and teacher Kathryn Page, recording artist Anna Heller, and ISM President Vick Bain.

22 Nocturnes for Chopin

Discussing the project, Elena tells me,

“Rose’s original composer list was mostly made up of men, and after giving her proposal some thought, I suggested focussing on female composers, offering the opportunity for submission to unpublished women composers aged 14+ in addition to a few who already have established careers. Almost every Chopin piano work has a dedication to a woman, and it occurred to me that if women composers would write these pieces inspired by Chopin, the anthology would complete the circle.”

By the time the deadline arrived, nearly 60 compositions had been submitted by women aged from 15 to 84 years old, most of whom haven’t and perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to see their music published.

The shortlisted pieces were distributed to committee members, with audio files and scores, the composers’ names all removed to ensure impartiality and fairness.

From such riches, how were we to identify the 16 pieces that would best suit the project? Making a final selection from the wealth of wonderful music submitted, which showcased such a variety of stylistic range and musical personality, proved to be a challenge of the very best sort!

Everyone on the committee was impressed by the range and quality of the music we received. Each member ranked the pieces, and our individual choices were then collated to narrow down the final list.

It was immediately clear that beyond the initial selections, there would be music Anna wanted to record on her immensely popular Moving Classics video channel, and talented composers with whom Elena would want to discuss other projects.

For now though, we have succeeded in producing a list of 22 Nocturnes for Chopin, which has been announced on the EVC Music website here this week, and is as follows:

Katie JenkinsNocturne. Cerddoriaeth i Bronwyn
Olga BermanNocturne Elegy 
Alanna CrouchNocturne 
Caroline TylerNocturne Fantasy
Caroline WrightNocturne. Reflections 
Marlowe CarruthNocturne Pregando 
Helen WalkerNocturne. Like the Night
Wendy Edwards Beardall-NortonNocturne for Lora
Jennifer BowmanNocturne
Charlotte ButlerNocturne, Moonlight on the Waves 
Lucy HackettNocturne, The Moth 
Charlotte BotterillNocturne, Waves Collide with the Precipice 
Dianna NeufeldNocturne For a Winter’s Night
Nicole DiPaoloNocturne 
Nitzan VardiNocturne, As They Come & Go
Agnieszka Lasko Nocturne, Autumn
Stephenie LeungNocturne, La ballerine solitaire 
Zoe RahmanNocturne
Heather HammondNocturne, Thinking of Frédéric 
Victoria ProudlerNocturne Triste
June ArmstrongNocturne, Sweet Sorrow 
Nancy LittenNocturne, Fred and Bertie’s Night-Time Stroll

Elena Cobb comments,

”The search is over, and we are delighted to announce the names of women composers whose works will be featured in the new piano anthology 22 Nocturnes for Chopin. The collection will be released in the Summer of 2023. Several composers who didn’t make a list were invited to work with the EVC on future projects.”

The Committee would like to offer our thanks to all who shared their compositions, offer our congratulations to those who will be included in the 22 Nocturnes publication, featured on the Moving Classics site, and published by EVC Music in the future.

And beyond those immediately selected, it will be exciting to see how all the composers who took part develop their careers in the years ahead!

Pianodao will include more news of this project and an in-depth look at the final publication when it appears later in 2023.

In the meantime, my heartfelt thanks go to Rose McLachlan, Elena Cobb, Kathryn Page, Anna Heller and Vick Bain. It has been a delight and honour to work with such an esteemed team!

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based on Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.