By Elizabeth Ann Foster
Women Warriors: The Voices of Change is a historical 80-minute program covering 800 years of women making history. Performed by Orchestra Moderne NYC and conducted by Amy Andersson, it is reminiscent of the multi-media productions by Ensemble for the Romantic Century (Maestro and Hans Christian Andersen Tales Real and Imagined both reviewed on FRC). It is billed as a multimedia symphony concert celebrating women activists who have and are fighting for social justice.
The entire program is created solely by women and is delivered in 12 chapters.
Guest speaker Masih Alinejad, author of memoir The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iranintroduced this world premiere. Alinejad is founder of the My Stealthy Freedom (MSF) campaign that encourages women to wear white scarves instead of the compulsory hijabs on Wednesdays and to post pictures of themselves unveiled on the MSF page. Understand the gravity of a woman publicly displaying her hair in Iran – punishment can include them to be hung by it. Her hair was amazing, thick and long. The last foot of her black hair was dyed white and piled on top of her head accented with a white flower. An artistic feat. The chapter dedicated to Alinejad’s activism was composed by Sharon Farber and entitled Hurriya(Freedom). Written to underscore the simple request of Iranian women to dress as they please. They want to feel the wind in their hair, which Farber comments is taken for granted by women in other parts of the world.
From the name of the Orchestra one might expect modern music. If it felt more like scores for a movie so you would not be surprised to find the composers’ Hollywood film credits.
Some highlights included a chapter dedicated to Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring,who was instrumental in banning DDT (occuring 8 years after her death). A segment dedicated to the plight of child brides featured Iranian Rapper Sonita Alizadeh. Born in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, she grew up as an undocumented refugee in Iran. Twice escaped from being sold as a child bride, Alizadeh documentary will soon be released about her life. Chapter 5, which the number 5 in Hebrew represents to be rescued or saved, is dedicated to Israeli and Palestinian women and is dedicated to their common quest for hope, peace and transformation. The footage shown of them singing and dancing as they walk through the desert is breathtaking and inspirational.
Amy Andersson may have struck gold by creating Orchestra Moderne NYC. It is a great way to engage a new generation to orchestral music through the communicative power of multi-media. This may be the 21stcentury connection of youth to social norms and values. The evocative and emotional musical works were enjoyable. It was a history class brought to life through an intimate yet powerful venue. Look forward to Woman Warriors expansion and development of the project. Women Warriors: 2.0.
Women Warriors: The Voices Of Change – Conductor, Founder and Music Director Orchestra Moderne NYC, Amy Andersson.
WITH: Masih Alinejad, author and activist; Lolita Ritmanis, composer; Miriam Cutler, composer; Penka Kouneva, composer; Starr Parodi, composer; Sharon Farber, composer; Nathalie Bonin, composer; Sonita Alizadeh/Mahdi, Rapper; Mandy Hoffman, composer; Anne-Kathrin Dern, composer; Isolde Fair, soloist; Anne Fraser Thomas, Carly Ozard, Jasmin Richardson, Jordan Welch, Nicole Lo, Sarah Hemenway,The Visionary Singers; Gillian Hassert, soloist; Riga Cathedral Girls’ Choir Tiara.
Music coordinator John Miller; vocal contractor, Tim Davis; Riga Cathedral Girls’ Choir Tiara Principal conductor, Aira Birzina. This event was one night only. September 20th.