Association of Canadian Women Composers/Association des femmes compositeurs canadiennes

The Association of Canadian Women Composers (ACWC)/L'Association des femmes compositeurs canadiennes (AFCC). Founded in 1980 by writer and broadcaster Carolyn Lomax to address the lack of recognition for women composers in Canada.

Association of Canadian Women Composers/Association des femmes compositeurs canadiennes

The Association of Canadian Women Composers (ACWC)/L'Association des femmes compositeurs canadiennes (AFCC). Founded in 1980 by writer and broadcaster Carolyn Lomax to address the lack of recognition for women composers in Canada. Its aims have been to promote the performance of works by women composers, to disseminate information about and to women composers in Canada and abroad, to encourage women composers to realize their creative potential, and to foster the highest standard of composition. The association's various membership categories (active, affiliate, associate, and composer-in-training) are open only to women.

Beginning as a national group of about 40 members, the association had more than doubled its membership by 2002. The directory for members was first published in 1987 and distributed to libraries and music departments throughout North America. It has been available on the Web since 1999. Annual meetings, held in different cities, have included workshops, guest speakers, or performers, and concerts of members' works. As the association has grown, its national character has become increasingly difficult to sustain. Convinced that women composers can be promoted only with the involvement of women in all other facets of musical life, in 1990 Vancouver-area members initiated their own group, Women in Music.

An English-language newsletter, the ACWC Bulletin, is published three times a year featuring correspondents from Australia, Europe, the Far East, and the USA. Peripatetic members extend local horizons and report on the political realities and successful strategies of women in music everywhere. Carolyn Lomax served as the first chairperson for the ACWC/AFCC (1980-2) and Ann Southam served as the first president (1980-8). Among its members are several well-known composers such as: Diana McIntosh, Linda Bouchard, Alice Ho, Ann Southam, and Hildegard Westerkamp.

By 1990 the profile of women composers had been raised by radio concerts and documentaries (notably on CFRO in Vancouver and CKLN in Toronto), competitions established specifically for women composers, the publication of the International Encyclopedia of Women Composers, and university women's study programs. But in the early 1990s Canadian women composers continued to have difficulty winning recognition - a condition that confirmed the continued need for the ACWC/AFCC.

In 1998 an orchestral concert entitled Excentricities, featuring the works of Canadian women composers, was presented at the Glenn Gould Studio. Performed by The Composers' Orchestra conducted by Gary Kulesha, the program included compositions of: Diane Chouinard, Alice Ho, Diana McIntosh, Svetlana Maksimovic, Kye Marshall, Elma Miller, and Anita Perry. It was co-sponsored by Ann Southam (an ACWC member who has often offered financial support), the SOCAN foundation, and the Ontario Art's Council and was broadcast on CBC Radio Two.

In 2002 the ACWC celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a collaborative four-day event entitled Then, Now and Beyond: A Festival of Music by Women, involving the Ottawa Chamber Music Society, the University of Ottawa, and Carleton University. It comprised a series of concerts that explored women's musical creativity throughout history. Works by Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, and Hildegard von Bingen were heard alongside contemporary works of predominantly Canadian women composers. The event featured performances of Linda Catlin Smith's Ribbon, Vivian Fung's Toccata, Nicole Carignan's Time, Space and Context: The Last 23 Days, Jana Skarecky's Song of Life, Elma Miller's Oracle, Hildegard Westerkamp's Attending to Sacred Matters, Anita Sleeman's Cantigas, Dolores Claman's Hockey Night in Canada, and Elisabeth Raum's T.S. (from Men I have Known). Concerts were broadcast on CBC Radio Two.

In 2002 Ann Southam, Mary Gardiner, Rhené Jaque, and Anita Sleeman became Honorary Life Members of the ACWC.


Further Reading

  • 'Association of Women Composers,' OCan, vol 8, Mar 1981

    'Ann Southam: interview with Tina Pearson,' Newsletter (ACWC/AFCC), Fall 1986

    Lomax, Carolyn. 'Women composers band together,' Music, vol 3, Nov-Dec 1986

    Cohen, Aaron I. International Encyclopedia of Women Composers, second edn (New York 1987)

    Gardiner, Mary. 'Canadian women composers: the double hurdle,' Musicanada 2000: A Celebration of Canadian Composers, ed S. Timothy Maloney (Montreal 2001)

    ACWC Bulletin

External Links