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NYC premiere of Joan Tower’s “1920/2019”.

2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees women the right to vote. To commemorate the event, Deborah Borda, executive president of the New York Philharmonic created Project 19, which commissioned nineteen women composers – Joan Tower, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Unsuk Chin, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Joan La Barbara, Tania León, Nicole Lizée, Caroline Mallonee, Jessie Montgomery, Angélica Negrón, Olga Neuwirth, Paola Prestini, Ellen Reid, Maria Schneider, Caroline Shaw, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Melinda Wagner, Nina C. Young, and Du Yun – to create the work. Young and Du Yun – the creation of several other pieces that will be premiered over several seasons.

The first premieres of Project 19 took place in 2020. Tread Softly, by Nina C. Young, premiered on 5 February last year, opened the programme, followed by world premieres by Tania León (Stride, 13 February), Ellen Reid (When the World as You’ve Known It Doesn’t Exist, 20 February), Nicole Lizée (Tears/Pillow, 20 February), Joan La Barbara (Ears of an Eagle; Eyes of a Hawk: In the Vortex, 20 February), Paola Prestini (Thrush Song, 20 February). Then… we all know what happened. The world premiere of Austrian Olga Neuwirth (which was to be directed by John Adams), scheduled for May 2020, was cancelled and awaits a new date.

In the meantime, this Friday will see the premiere of the first of the works, 1920/2019, by Joan Tower, an event that will take place in the Alice Tully Hall of New York’s Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Jaap Van Zweden. Tower explained that the two years of the title “were probably the two most historically significant years for the advancement of women in society”, the first because it “was the year when the amendment was ratified and adopted — an important and long sought-after achievement”, and the second because “this piece was written in 2019 as the #MeToo movement continued to grow. Victims of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment are ending their silence, finding strength by sharing their experiences and beliefs”.

The next concert planned is the world premiere on 10 June 2022 of Forward Into Light by American Sarah Kirkland Snider, which was scheduled to have premiered in June 2020.

© Photograph by Bernhardt Mindich, downloaded from the website of Wise Music Classical, the publisher representing Joan Tower’s work.