Venus Unwrapped: Kings Place’s Year-Long Focus on Women Composers


A new light on music by women (January – December 2019) opening on Thursday 10 January with a concert that marks the 400th birthday of singer and composer Barbara Strozzi. Kings Place’s Venus Unwrapped is a year-long series focusing on the creative firepower of women composers.

For more information about Venus Unwrapped events and how to book click here.

Pupil of Cavalli and performer of Monteverdi, Barbara Strozzi was also an illegitimate daughter and single parent, and is just one of the many female composers, song-writers and rule-breakers whose music will be brought to life during the course of Venus Unwrapped. Despite being treated by many as a courtesan and unable to secure a position in any court, Strozzi published seven volumes of increasingly ambitious music between 1655 and 1664.

Venus Unwrapped is about women from all races and backgrounds as much as it is about a wide and eclectic range of music from jazz and folk, contemporary to electronic, and the artists who inspired them. From Francesca Caccini in 16th century Italy to Meredith Monk in 20th century New York, Kings Place unlocks the secret history of music by women: a shadow canon that begins with the music of the medieval nuns, moves on to the gifted professionals working in the European courts, the stifling world of the 19th-century drawing room, radical voices of the 20th century and into an explosion of creativity from female artists today in all genres.

Word events include Deborah Frances-White of the Guilty Feminist in conversation with special guests, Vikki Stone’s Concerto for Comedian and Orchestra, an array of poetry events and a comedy gala night, while Kings Place sculpture gallery Pangolin will feature key female sculptors.

Research released in 2018 revealed that of a total of 3345 orchestral works to be performed on the international classical stage during 2018-19, only 2.3% will be composed by women. While Venus Unwrapped may only be able to present a small though significant percentage of the 6000 female composers that date from the 11th century to the present day who are currently identified and catalogued, it demonstrates that women were not restricted to the passive roles of muses, performers and on-lookers. Reclaiming music history from a female perspective and taking a broad overview of a thousand years of music from Hildegarde of Bingen to Pan Daijing, Venus Unwrapped celebrates the diversity of creative voices today.

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