Sounding the Feminists, much like MNÁSOME, Fair Plé and many others, are a woman-focused group of volunteers formed to address gender imbalance issues in the music industry. The working group was assembled to help implement change and push the movement forward after several informal meetings took place in 2016. The area of gender in music had been looked into prior to this and now further research is planned for early 2019. The objective of Sounding the Feminists (STF) is to gather information and listen to the experiences of women in music across different genres, then to take their findings and look at ways to improve experiences and increase representation of women in areas across the industry from performance to education.
From their beginnings with a number of informal meetings in 2016 to their recent partnership with the National Concert Hall, joining the National Women’s Council of Ireland and running a symposium on women in popular and traditional music with Dundalk IT, Sounding the Feminists are sparking conversations and actioning real change for women in music.The working group are made up of performers, composers and other professionals who happen to have backgrounds in classical music, however they are interested in the experiences of women across multiple musical genres.
Working on the belief that “you can’t be what you can’t see” STF feel it’s just as important to campaign for gender equality in music for those who will be embarking on careers in music in the future as it is for people currently working in music. This is why one key area of focus is education and putting music composed and performed by women into educational structures to provide role models for children being introduced to such music from an early age. Other future plans include providing professional development sessions for young musicians interested in a career in music whether that be as a performer, composer, journalist, broadcaster or other music related profession.
Always looking to the future and in the interest of creating lasting change, Sounding the Feminists have developed a five year partnership with the National Concert Hall. One strand of the initiative will see call outs for two Commissioning Schemes that will offer established and emerging women musicians and composers from all genres a platform to create new work. The initiative will run for five years in order for it to keep expanding and changing.
STF will also be co-curating with the National Concert Hall on a Female Composer Series and a New Programme Strand, focusing on a diverse range of artists working in contemporary music. The New Programme Strand will encompass performances, workshops, residences and collaborations to further highlight and promote the work of women in music and is due to be announced in 2019.
Dundalk IT in partnership with STF will be running a Symposium on Women in Traditional and Popular Music in which MNÁSOME has the pleasure of taking part, along with Girls Rock Dublin, Fair Plé, Gash Collective, Improvised Music Company and more.
Sounding the Feminists will be putting out calls for volunteers for specific areas of work. For more information on Sounding the Feminists and to keep up to date on developments, visit https://www.soundingthefeminists.com/
Words by Sinéad Furlong