Thursday, October 25, 2018

OSCAR Student Morgan Sutherland Focuses on Increasing Female Representation in Percussion Chamber Music

Percussion chamber music, which began around 1929, is music for small groups of musicians who produce sound by hitting their instruments. Since this art form began less than 100 years ago, it is still in an experimental development stage.  As it is historically a male dominated field, my research is focusing on increasing female representation in percussion chamber music. In order to do this, I have commissioned two new works for percussion chamber group by women and started a short timeline of significant female contributors to the art who have been forgotten over time.

My day to day process changes frequently due to the two part division of my project. Some of my most important commission-related tasks include emailing composers, writing contracts for commissions, putting together groups to perform, practicing music to perform, and scheduling rehearsals. Some of my most important tasks for the timeline have included spending time in the library researching scores and sifting through works listed by distributors of percussion music in search of those written by females. Preliminary data shows that 22.33% of percussion chamber works on Steve Weiss Music, one of the leading distributors of percussion resources, was written or arranged by females. A significant portion if these works were written for elementary to early high school level. Currently, I am at the So Percussion Summer Institute (SoSI) at Princeton. Here I am learning rehearsals techniques for percussion chamber music as well as being exposed to many well known contemporary women composers of percussion chamber music including Angelica Negron, Juri Seo, and Caroline Shaw. At SoSI I am also working with Anna Meadors to develop ideas for the trio I commissioned.