DOI: https://doi.org/10.31318/0130-5298.2017.43.0.131921

«Her Stories Unsung»: embedding feminist activism for social change within musical composition for concert hall programming

Kevin Malone

Abstract


Anglo-American composer Kevin Malone wrote "Her Stories Unsung", a collection of feminist piano pieces, between 2013 and 2016 as a comment on women’s inequality in patriarchal societies and as a call for action to change the status quo through both concert hall programming and a new means of composition which is gender-aware or gender-specific. As a displaced artist, K. Malone became aware of how marginalised groups in societies are exposed to different types of oppression and inequality. Drawing upon material from USA, UK and Ukraine, K. Malone worked with Argentinian concert pianist Diana Lopszyc to create socio-political music which requires theatrical actions during performances of the music with specific attention drawn to the gender of the performer according the various programmatic narratives within the music. These narratives are drawn from key aspects of the lives of Lilith (the Biblical pre-Eve woman), Ada Lovelace, Julia Pastrana, Emmeline Pankhurst and Delia Derbyshire. K. Malone’s visually-informed gender coding of his concert music and its performance establishes a departure from the attempted (but never successful) norm of gender-neutral interpretation of purportedly gender-neutral concert music. In this way, K. Malone calls upon composers and performers to align their talents with activists who strive for social change to achieve gender equality but, in doing so, to ensure that the integrity of the musical art work (which currently is still inflected by patriarchy) be rigorous yet entertaining.

Keywords


feminism; concert music; piano music; socio-political music; the atricality; gender; equality; activism; suffrage; Kevin Malone’s music

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