The Pythia Prize

It’s no secret that women composers are underrepresented across the world. At the 70th Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, American composer Ashley Fure delved into the festival's archives to examine the representation of gender relations across the history of this iconic event. 

“I gathered a simple set of metrics charting (admittedly, and apologetically, binary) gender breakdowns of a few key areas: female/male ratios of compositions performed, prizes won, participants attended, and faculty tutors, each year of the festival. Joined by a host of collaborators, including Professor Georgina Born of Oxford University, we offer this harvested data now for the Darmstadt community to digest. Our aim is not to impose an interpretation, but to carve out time for collective, focused engagement with the information.” -Ashley Fure

“I gathered a simple set of metrics charting (admittedly, and apologetically, binary) gender breakdowns of a few key areas: female/male ratios of compositions performed, prizes won, participants attended, and faculty tutors, each year of the festival. Joined by a host of collaborators, including Professor Georgina Born of Oxford University, we offer this harvested data now for the Darmstadt community to digest. Our aim is not to impose an interpretation, but to carve out time for collective, focused engagement with the information.”

-Ashley Fure

The results showed only 7% of the music programmed over the festival’s 70 year history to be by female composers. All of the data and resulting discussions can be found at the Gender Relations in Darmstadt website. 

A quick Google search will lead you to discover that Australian programming isn't so different . The Australian Music Centre’s website currently shows represented artist numbers as follows:

Male (534)

Female (187)

These are the facts, plain and simple. Many ensembles, composers, arts directors and programmers are doing their part to address this problem and should be openly commended. Sydney’s Ensemble Offspring have programmed entirely female composers throughout their 2017 season. Cat Hope, Head of the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music has implemented a compulsory quota for students to include works by female composers on their recital programs. 

Australian composer Liza Lim, in conjunction with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music is launching a new professional development program aimed at empowering women in composition entitled 'Composing Women'.  

Changes are occurring, but it is not enough to just commend those who are making a difference without doing something ourselves. It’s not enough to just assume others are making the changes. We all need to actively make the changes together. 

Rubiks are so proud to be launching The Pythia Prize, a new commission project that will see an Australian female composer collaborate with Rubiks to create a new work, to be premiered in 2018.  The Pythia Prize winner’s piece will be performed in both Australia and Europe, ensuring repeat performances of the work. Rubiks are striving to develop the Pythia Prize into an annual competition, in which the ensemble will not only develop new pieces with the winning composer each year but also build a database of female composers who we intend to build ongoing relationships with. 

Pythia (or the Oracle of Delphi) was an ancient Greek Priestess who held court at Pytho, a sanctuary dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Apollo was a god of many things, including: music, poetry, art, oracles, archery, plague, medicine, sun, light and knowledge. Pythia was highly-regarded, for it was believed that she channeled prophecies from Apollo himself, including messages of music. 

Image Credit- Carmonn French

Image Credit- Carmonn French

Applications for this opportunity will open on September 4th, 2017 through the Rubiks website

Together, we can oversee equal opportunities and empowerment for creative females. Rubiks are raising funds to support the launch of the inaugural Pythia Prize with the support of Creative Partnerships Australia's MATCH Lab program. To learn more and support our campain, please click here.

Rubiks Collective