When a musician's gender becomes a counterproductive cliché
Bracingly acerbic new works for period instruments commissioned by the Freiburger Barokorchester are showcased on the double CD seen above which was released in 2006. A year after its release I broadcast two of the featured works, Rebecca Saunders' Rubricare and Benjamin Schweitzer's Flekkicht, juxtaposed with the Sixth Brandenburg Concerto on Future Radio. This week there was extensive coverage of the excellent news that Rebecca Saunders had won the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. Predictably the coverage was dominated by Ms. Saunders' status as the first female recipient of the prestigious prize. But none of the coverage mentioned two other salient facts which were highlighted by me in a 2016 post titled 'Beware of classical music's viral circles'. The first is that Rebecca Saunders has quite rightly become one of the pre-eminent composers of her generation despite having a minimal online footprint. The second is she has suffered comparative neglect at the BBC Proms - just one Albert Hall performance - compared with other composers, both female and male, who churn out music more amenable to social media hyping. When will the lazy music media realise we have now reached the tipping point where majoring on a musician's gender becomes a counterproductive cliché?
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