Dear Friends,

The Board of Directors of The Sorel Organization and I are delighted to share some updates of the charitable organization’s recent activities. We continue to focus our grant making towards amplifying the voices of women composers, advancing gender and racial equity, and expanding the classical music canon for generations to come.

Tania León to receive the Sorel Legacy Medallion June 7
Founder Claudette Sorel was a longtime member of the National Arts Club in New York City, and we recently discovered that she left a small bequest to the club to hold an annual event celebrating the accomplishments of women in music. This year’s honoree is the 2021 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, Cuban-American composer and conductor Tania León. On June 7, León will receive the Sorel Legacy Medallion for her significant contributions in music and for her advocacy for living composers. León will talk about her career, her new memoir, Tania León’s Stride, a Polyrhythmic Life, and introduce a short program of music by women composers from the organization she founded, Composers Now: Joyce Solomon Moorman, Yumi Kurosawa, and Erica Lindsay. Come celebrate with us! Register here for the free event.

Sorel Classics moves to a new label home
We are pleased to announce that Music and Arts Programs of America, Inc., the Berkeley-based non-profit classical and jazz record label, recently acquired the Sorel Classics label to distribute the existing CD titles and projects, and to co-produce future recordings for the Sorel Organization. The Board of Directors and the Management of Music & Arts were especially drawn to the Sorel mission “to expand opportunities and stretch the boundaries for women musicians in the fields of conducting, composition, film scoring, performance, arts leadership, education, and scholarship.” Sorel Classics projects will augment the recorded repertoire by highlighting the contributions of women in music. One CD in the works is solo piano music by Germaine Tailleferre, the only woman in the renowned composer group, Les Six. Explore Sorel Classics on Music &

New Music USA announces 2022 Creator Development Fund recipients
The pandemic brought the music world to a halt in March 2020. Among affected populations were composers at various stages of their projects. New Music USA’s Creator Development Fund is providing grants to support creative collaborations following the social isolation of the past two years. From a pool of 1,107 applications, New Music USA has selected 112 awardees to receive grants totaling $335,000. 54% identify as women, non-binary or transgender women, 71% of the awardees are BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color), and awardees are based in 21 states. The Sorel Organization joined multiple funders to support this worthy initiative. Learn more and view the list of recipients.

American Composers Forum announces 8 artists for recording projects
If it’s not recorded, how can it be shared? The American Composers Forum (ACF) has launched a new business model to make the process of making and distributing recordings more accessible and inclusive than ever before, in collaboration with its in-house label, innova Recordings. This spring, ACF selected recipients for the first eight recording projects, and a second call for applications is currently underway.  Next month ACF will announce another cohort of women artists to record for the label. The Sorel Organization’s funding enables selected artists who identify as women or non-binary to be supported by the label, and to be able to collaborate with recording venues and producers led by underrepresented genders. Learn more and view the artists and their projects.

Summer Screen Scoring Workshops at NYU
Claudette Sorel advocated for more women film composers in Hollywood, and left an endowed scholarship at NYU for women film students. Additionally, the Sorel Organization annually offers a pair of scholarships for women to attend NYU’s Summer Screen Scoring Workshops. Now entering its 22nd consecutive year, the summer workshops are among internationally heralded training grounds for composers wishing to build careers around composing for film, television, streaming media, video games, and commercials. Among its alumni are celebrated media composers Kris Bowers (Green Book) and Marcelo Zarvos (Ray Donovan). Another striking example is Emily Bear, who credits the scholarship she received at age 10 (as the workshop’s youngest participant, by far) with changing the course of her life. The now 20-year-old composer, pianist, songwriter and singer lives in Hollywood and recently snared the Best Musical Theater Album GRAMMY Award for The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, co-written with Abigail Barlow.

SongFest launches new Composer Mentorship Program
SongFest has long championed the powerful art of song in today’s world. Six emerging, early career women composers will be attending the new SongFest-Sorel Composer Mentorship Program on full scholarship in early June. They will collaborate with voice, piano, and composition faculty and students at SongFest’s new home, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In this unique immersion into the form, the participants will be studying with composer mentors to hone their skills in setting music for voice and piano, discussing with poets the relationship between words and music, and hearing their songs performed in workshops and concert. Another highlight of this year’s SongFest will be world premieres by Sorel-commissioned composers Sheila Silver and Juhi Bansal. Learn more

Ukrainian Rhapsody airs on classical stations
“Music is visibly at the heart of the Ukrainian people, as can easily be seen during the ongoing Russian invasion of the country,” says Nashville Classical Radio. “Piano duo Anna and Dmitri Shelest have taken to heart the encouragement to use their talents for their fellow Ukrainian people.” To support the Ukrainian cause, and with our Music & Arts label partner, we recently offered the Shelest’s 2018 Sorel Classics recording Ukrainian Rhapsody to classical stations across the country for airplay, CD giveaways, and interviews with its artists. In this radio feature, which begins with a solo violinist playing for soldiers in a barracks, “hear from Anna and Dmitri why the cultural front in this war is so important, as well as the joys of putting four hands together on one keyboard.” Listen here

Paving the way for women conductors, and rediscovering Claudette Sorel
“I have to say that when I was getting into this, I didn’t realize women conductors were not common,” muses Buffalo Philharmonic Music Director JoAnn Falletta in a Classical Post profile of her groundbreaking career. In the article, Falletta, a founding member of the Sorel Organization Advisory Board and current Trustee, admires pianist Claudette Sorel as “an adventurer” and for her “astonishing talent,” which can be heard in the commemorative CD set Claudette Sorel Rediscovered. “She loved new music, and especially American composers,” continues Falletta. “She’s an inspiration for me, when I’m thinking about trying to find new voices, to know that she was doing it.” Read the profile

Charting the rise of women conductors
Around the country we are seeing many more women on the podiums. Nathalie Stutzmann is the Atlanta Symphony’s incoming Music Director and Principal Guest Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. She is one of four guest conductors at the San Francisco Symphony this month and next who, not coincidentally, happen to be women, along with the New Jersey Symphony’s Xian Zhang, the Netherlands Philharmonic’s Karina Canellakis, and Dallas Symphony Assistant Conductor Ruth Reinhardt. “Where did these women suddenly come from?” asks critic Joshua Kosman in a fascinating San Francisco Examiner article. “One answer, a little glib but not entirely wrong, is to say they’ve always been here.” He writes that nearly a decade ago, British music blogger Jessica Duchen compiled a list of over 100 female conductors. One of the conductors on her list has taken this even further with social media posts using the hashtag #oneconductoraday. Talia Ilan has posted over 500 women conductors so far. Learn more

America’s orchestras are getting serious about diversity
According to the Institute for Composer Diversity, created by SUNY Fredonia professor Rob Deemer, from the seasons spanning 2015 through 2018, only 2% of orchestral programming on average was of works written by women, and 3% by composers of color. By the 2019-20 season, the programming percentages increased to 6% of works by women and 8% by composers of color, as cited in this San Francisco Classical Voice article. The current season’s representation now includes 12% compositions by women and 17% by composers of color. Stay tuned for updated statistics in our fall newsletter.

Wende Persons
Managing Director, Board of Directors
The Sorel Organization
m: 917-691-1282
Expanding opportunities for women in music

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