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Nineteen years of celebrating women composers

The Women Composers Concert took place at the Collins Center for the Arts on Monday, Nov. 2, marking the event’s 19th anniversary.

The organizer of the event, Laura Artesani, has been coordinating the concert since it began 19 years ago. A pianist and guitarist herself, Artesani teaches the women and gender studies course, Women and Music, in the fall semesters at the University of Maine.

“The Women Composers concert was organized primarily to give students enrolled in the class an opportunity to hear live performances of music by women composers,” Artesani said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for students to see and hear a composer in action.”

Artesani graduated summa cum laude from Barrington College in Rhode Island where she earned a bachelor of music degree in music education. She then received her masters of music degree at UMaine before earning a doctorate of musical arts from West Virginia University.

Artesani has either written or co-authored articles that appeared in the Journal for Music Teacher Education, the Orff Echo and General Music Today. She has taught at several institutions in Rhode Island and Maine, according to the School of Performing Arts website. Now at UMaine, this event provides a more involved view of what her class teaches.

Artesani finds musicians to participate by informing the Division of Music of the date for the next concert as soon as she figures out when it will be. Once word gets out about the date, she always gets a positive response from women interested in participating as performers or composers.

While the concert originally started as a supplement to Artesani’s classes, it is now open for free to UMaine students. There is a small fee for the public to attend. This event makes female composers more accessible and known to the public.

“Although there are many more active women composers now than in past generations, due to increased educational opportunities, it is still somewhat of a rarity to hear works by composers who happen to be women,” Artesani said.

This concert showcases the variety of music that women write and perform, including jazz, medieval, contemporary and jazz ensembles. This year the female a capella group Renaissance performed, providing an additional layer of talent to the stage.

Renaissance, which holds auditions primarily in the fall, is a small group formed from the larger organization University Singers, to which Artesani is a piano accompanist.

Artesani has already started planning for the next Women Composers Concert for next fall, for its 20th anniversary.

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