Music for March 27

Dame Ethel Smyth

For this final week of Women’s History Month both the prelude and postlude on Sunday will be by female composers (at least at the 9am service). The prelude at both services is a reflection on the Holy Week hymn “Were you there?” by Emma Lou Diemer (b. 1927). Diemer is a Yale, Eastman, and Fulbright educated American composer and longtime faculty member at the University of California Santa Barbara, specializing in organ and piano works, as well as choral and chamber music compositions. She is one of the most respected living organists and composers in America. 

Dame Ethel Smyth (pictured above), who you’ll hear an excerpt from at our 9am Sunday service, was the first female composer to be awarded damehood. She was a member of the women’s suffrage movement in England and was often marginalized by her musical contemporaries as a “woman composer” not to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, she persevered in writing successful operas and orchestral music and is considered a pioneering force for women in the classical music world.

If you enjoyed last Sunday’s choir anthem as much as they enjoyed singing it, catch it again here, preceded by a brief prayer. If you’d like to reflect on some Lenten keyboard music, try this playlist recorded by Hannah Brewer over the last two years.