Women composers for organ
Advent and Christmas repertoire from women composers of organ and liturgical works
We are pleased to announce that our inaugural list of Repertoire for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany is now available. It contains choral music a capella and with accompaniment, music for organ solo, chamber music for organ and instruments and other works, all written by women composers of organ and liturgical music. You can download the repertoire list below:
Directory of women composers: organ and liturgical music
During the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, a group of volunteer researchers, all members of SWO, compiled a directory of women who have written for the organ, and for church services, and unearthed a wealth of unknown women and their music that had disappeared with the passage of time. Along with the Directory, they have published a Work Catalogue of the women composers mentioned in the Directory.
You are welcome to download the latest versions of both the Directory and Work Catalogue via the links below.
(current versions as at November 2021)
Both the Directory and the Work Catalogue are work in progress and an open resource. We hope that readers will comment on the entries, and amend or supplement as appropriate. If you wish to make a contribution, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
More resources on women composers
Woman Composer Sunday
On Sunday 7 March 2021, the nearest Sunday to International Women’s Day on 8 March, the Society of Women Organists (SWO) and the Royal College of Organists (RCO) celebrated organ music by female composers by launching an annual Woman Composer Sunday.
Organists were asked to post on their websites and social media accounts a recording, video and/or live-stream link to a performance of themselves or another organist playing an organ piece (or pieces) written by a female composer, with the hashtag #SWORCOWomanComposerSunday.
To mark the event, SWO and the RCO published a joint repertoire list of music by women composers, which includes a note of the playing standard for each piece, as well as sources and a brief description. This can be downloaded below:
Woman Composer Sunday in 2022 will be held on Sunday 6 March.
For the launch of Woman Composer Sunday, a joint project by SWO with the Royal College of Organists, the RCO has compiled a playlist on Spotify, the free digital music streaming service, of professional performances of organ music by women composers.
Find the playlist on the RCO Spotify page
Twenty composers are represented: Elfride Andree, Jennifer Bate, Elsa Barraine, Judith Bingham, Liv Benedicte Bjornboe, Matilde Capuis, Cecile Chaminade, Jeanne Demessieux, Rolande Falcinelli, Nancy Plummer Faxon, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Rachel Laurin, Fanny Mendelssohn, Amalie von Preussen, Florence Price, Margaret Vardell Sandresky, Clara Schumann, Ethel Smyth, Germaine Tailleferre, Judith Weir
SPOTIFY is a digital music streaming app, and you will need to have a Spotify account to access this playlist. A basic Spotify account is free - there is a monthly fee for a premium Spotify account which is ad-free and gives more features.
Recital from Guilford Cathedral
To mark Woman Composer Sunday in 2021, Katherine Dienes-Williams, Organist at Guildford Cathedral, recorded a recital of music by women composers, including music by Emma Louise Ashford, Jeanne Demessieux, Cecile Chaminade, Erzsébet Szőnyi, Elizabeth Stirling, Nadia Boulanger, Cecilia McDowall, Pia Rose Scattergood & Emma Lou Diemer.
This concert is now available on Guildford Cathedral's YouTube Channel via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIiTVAifUvU
A forthcoming anthology of music by women composers for the organ
We are delighted that music publishers Stainer & Bell are working with SWO Member Anna Lapwood as Editor, to create an anthology of works by women composers for the organ. The publication date has yet to be finalised, but we will announce it here.
Our congratulations to Julie Ainscough, SWO Member, who has been crowned the winner of SWO’s Composition Competition 2021, and whose wining piece will be included in the anthology. Julie has a master’s degree in composition from Goldsmiths’ College, a Doctorate in composition from the University of Surrey (where she wrote a supporting dissertation on Messiaen’s later organ cycles), and has won prizes for composition at Trinity College and the University of Surrey. We warmly thank our competition judges – SWO Patrons Sarah MacDonald, William McVicker, Tom Bell and Harry Bramma. Ghislaine Reece-Trapp, our Co-Chair, has also been invited to contribute to the anthology with an organ piece based on In Paradisum.