Music, She Wrote: Organ Compositions by Women

Frances Nobert, D.M.A.


Disbelief and Conversion: Women composers? Are there any of note? Such were my queries before my transformation in the early nineties. The adventure into the field of women’s compositions began quite innocently in 1993, when I received a Whittier College Faculty Development Grant to attend a College Music Society symposium on women and music near Washington, DC. I embarked on this pursuit with great skepticism, because I had always believed that there were very few compositions by women, and that those that did exist were saccharine. My disbelief became total amazement when I began to hear the repertoire. The works captivated me, as did the expertise of the presenters and of those who had published scholarly works on the subject. I quickly became a convert and decided to carry the torch back to Whittier College.

This conversion resulted in spearheading a successful effort to add a Women’s Studies minor to the Whittier College curriculum, becoming Women’s Studies Coordinator for three years and developing a new course, Women in Music.

My path also led to the following:
• Collecting and performing repertoire for organ, solo piano, piano duets, chamber music, and chamber compositions with organ and piano
• Participating in three of Dr. Miriam Zach’s International Festivals of Women Composers at the University of Florida, Gainesville by presenting workshops, performing organ compositions and perusing her holdings to assemble to list of organ music for concert and church
• Researching libraries of women’s music in Kassel and Weimar, Germany, and Sydney, Australia
• Meeting women composers in Beijing and bringing home some of their music
• Presenting at women’s music festivals of the International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM), for which I performed at a Congress at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, the Hildegard Festival of Women in the Arts at the University of California, Stanislaus, the International Congress of Women in Music in London and the
• Performing for the Donne in Music Festival in Fiuggi, Italy
• Presenting women’s-music workshops/concerts in Australia, China, England, France, Korea and Italy
• Releasing a CD, Music, She Wrote: Organ Compositions by Women
• Penning a monthly mini-series for the newsletters of five Southern California chapters of the American Guild of Organists
• Writing an extensive article with annotated lists of organ music for The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, May/June 2002

The challenge now is to go into all the world and spread the gospel of women composers. It has been my experience that congregations and audiences have responded with surprise, intrigue and enthusiasm after hearing this repertoire.

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