The Philadelphia Orchestra on Thursday announced a series of new initiatives bolstering its work with women composers. For the 2019-20 season (the season after the coming one), more than half of the orchestra's subscription programs will feature works by women, starting with a new commission from Imani Winds composer Valerie Coleman.
In addition, new orchestra president and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky announced that the orchestra has commissioned new orchestral works from six women whose previously composed scores are being played through by the orchestra in a reading session Thursday morning in Verizon Hall.
They are: Melody Eötvös, Robin Holcomb, Chen-Hui Jen, Hilary Purrington, Xi Wang, and Nina C. Young. The orchestra has not yet determined when their new pieces will be premiered, a spokesperson said.
The orchestra drew criticism in January for announcing a 2018-19 season without a single woman composer on the schedule, and in recent weeks has added two new works by women composers in the coming season as well as a number of new initiatives.
The orchestra has said it will commission major new works from other women composers in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, including a piece by Gabriela Lena Frank. Thursday's announcement included news that she will hold the title of composer-in-residence through 2020-21. A new mentoring program for emerging women composers is expected to produce other new orchestral pieces to be premiered in the 2019-20 season; participants have not yet been named, the spokesperson said.
Additionally, five women conductors will lead the ensemble in the 2019-20 season, the orchestra announced Thursday.