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Erasmus+ subsidy for women’s voices in music

12 September 2022

The Voices of Women project, an initiative by researchers from various European universities including the University of Groningen, was recently awarded an Erasmus+ subsidy amounting to €325,832. The aim of the project is to include female musicians and poets in the canon and to allow their voices to be heard in music teaching across Europe.

Only the voices of very few female musicians are included in the European canon of classical, popular, and jazz music: many women who were active in the field of music in the past have disappeared from music history. To allow the voices of these women to be heard clearly once more and to pay their work the attention it deserves, the Voices of Women project was initiated.

‘If a voice is not heard, it will disappear from history’, says project leader Dr Janke Klok, co-initiator of the project. ‘This has been the case for women in the arts for a long time. In literature, history and art history, and philosophy, for instance, attention has been paid to the voices of women for longer. Research by staff members at the UG Faculty of Arts, among other faculties, has contributed to this.’

Women in music history
In contrast, women’s contributions to music history have been paid very little attention. ‘The voices of women have disappeared to the edges of history. Through this project, we want to let their—many—voices be heard once again’, says Klok. ‘Take the Amsterdam- based musician Frieda Belinfante: she played the cello in various orchestras in the Netherlands and was the first woman in the world to be appointed as the permanent conductor of a professional orchestra. Or listen to the current podcast Nooit van Gehoord [‘Never heard of’], about composers that have been forgotten or dismissed for one reason or another. This was not due to their music, which was unique and brilliant.’

And then there are the many Norwegian women in the second half of the nineteenth century, such as Agathe Backer Grøndahl (1847–1907) (who had Dutch ancestry) and Erika Lie Nissen (1845–1903). Klok: ‘These women wanted to develop themselves further in the field of music. To this end, they travelled to Berlin, which was already home to prominent music programmes even back then. And this was not just two or three but as many as 80 women, who developed themselves as musicians with innovative voices and who could be heard on concert stages across Europe. Nowadays, you really have to make an effort to find their names and voices.’

The research objective
The aim of the Voices of Women project is to develop a new European curriculum that better represents the voices of women in music history. To this end, workshops, masterclasses, and international conferences will be organized by the participating universities over a period of three years. The first conference will be held in Groningen at the start of December, entitled: ‘Voices of Women: Materialities, Cultural Transfer, and Musical Authorship.’

In this interdisciplinary project, research will be conducted at the interface of the fields of languages, art forms, and cultural transfer. Students of the various universities are collaborating on the project: over three years, they will be offered workshops and training sessions to help shape the form and content of the new curriculum.

Partner organizations
Voices of Women (VOW) at the University of Groningen is an initiative by Dr Janke Klok, Prof. Petra Broomans, and Dr Kristin McGee of the Faculty of Arts. The project partners are the Arctic University of Norway (UiT), the University of Music FRANZ LISZT Weimar, and the University of Stavanger (coordinator of the project).

About Erasmus+
Erasmus+ is supported by the European Union and aims to improve the quality of teaching and training and of child and youth work through international collaboration projects. In addition, Erasmus+ offers individuals of all ages the possibility to study abroad.

Last modified:04 October 2022 11.26 a.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

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