Out of the Shadows

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Alexandra Dariescu's innovative approach to achieving gender parity in concert programming

Alexandra Dariescu  (Photo Nick Rutter)
Alexandra Dariescu (Photo Nick Rutter)
A recent study of 100 of the world’s top orchestras' 2020/21 seasons conducted by the Donne Foundation found that only 5% of the music scheduled in their concerts is composed by women. In addition, a staggering 88% of concerts feature only music written by men. Performers are still struggling to achieve gender parity in concerts, but there are innovative ways of achieving this. Pianist Alexandra Dariescu has found a way of doing it. In the 2021/22 season, out of her 30 concerto appearances, 20 have been by women composers.

She explains that she does this "through a long-term collaborative approach with conductors, promoters and orchestras, by pairing mainstream piano concertos written by male composers with their female counterparts in the same concert." She pairs well known concertos by men with a concerto by a woman in the same concert.

For instance putting Florence Price's Concerto in D minor and Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, both of which premiered in 1934. Germaine Tailleferre's Ballade for piano and orchestra with the concerto by her mentor Ravel, Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto and Enescu's Piano Concerto, both written when their composers were 16, and Nadia Boulanger's Fantaisie variee with the Symphonic Variations by the Boulanger family friend, Cesar Franck.

Alexandra has performed concertos by Nadia Boulanger, Germaine Tailleferre, Leokadiya Kashperova, Emily Howard, Iris ter Shiphorst, Florence Price, Clara Schumann and collaborated with orchestras across the world.

"We are thrilled to hear of Alexandra's fantastic initiative and results. The Association of British Orchestras fully supports increasing gender equality in the repertoire performed by our members. We have been delighted by the take-up so far, and hope this will be an inspiration to orchestras in other countries." - Mark Pemberton, Chief Executive of the Association of British Orchestras

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