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Venus Unwrapped

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Venus Unwrapped throws a spotlight on the creative fire power of female composers, from Hildegarde of Bingen to Helen Grime, Mary Lou Williams and Laura Mvula, from Cara Dillon to Cate Le Bon.

2019’s Unwrapped series began as an attempt to view the musical canon through a different lens and to rebalance the repertoire. Was Hildegarde of Bingen the only medieval nun composer? Who were Bach and Beethoven’s female contemporaries? Which was the first major symphony by a female composer? Venus Unwrapped unlocks the convents and courts and throws a light on music too long hidden in the shadows; it also celebrates the vibrant creators of today, who are carving out new musical territory for themselves.

Taking part in Venus Unwrapped were Aurora Orchestra, Bang on a Can All Stars, London Sinfonietta, OAE, Southbank Sinfonia, BBC Singers, Black Voices, the London Adventist Chorale, Stile Antico, The Sixteen, presenting a host of composers, from Rafaella Alleotti, Maddalena Casaluna, to Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi, from Louise Farrenc, Anna Amalia, Clara Schumann, Rebecca Clarke, Lili Boulanger, Mary Lou Williams, from Grazyna Bacewicz to Meredith Monk. Artists include Midori, Rachel Podger, Tabea Zimmermann, Joanna MacGregor and Gabriela Montero.

Cutting-edge contemporary work by Kerry Andrew, Anna Meredith, Gazelle Twin, Pan Daijing, Hatis Noit, Heloise Werner, Laura Mvula, Helen Grime, Zoe Keating, Nik Void and Ashley Paul, Tansy Davies, Emily Hall, Josephine Stephenson, Rebecca Saunders, Caroline Shaw, Lera Auerbach, Kathy Hinde, Missy Mazzoli, Tanya Auclair, Hanna Tuulikki, Joanna Marsh, Kate Whitley, Julia Wolfe, Laura Caitlin Smith, Joanna Baillie, Kaija Saariaho, Roxanna Panufnik and Cate le Bon.

Jazz events featured Yazz Ahmed, Laura Jurd, Sarah Tandy, Rosie Turton, Norma Winstone, Nikki Yeoh, Zoe Rahman, Nikki Illes and tributes to Mary Lou Williams and Alice Coltrane.

Folk events included a weekend curated by Rachel Newton, plus Peggy Seeger, Kate Rusby, Cara Dillon, Lady Maisery, Shirley Collins, Kathryn Tickell, The Rheingan Sisters, The Local Honeys and more.

Words programme presented female myths from around the world from the Crick Crack Club, Deborah Frances-White in residence with The Guilty Feminist, a major event on Sylvia Plath, a poetry commission by Lavinia Greenlaw, Women Poets in Frame, including Gillian Clarke, and a night at the Black Flamingo with drag-artist Dean Atta.

Find out how Venus Unwrapped ties in with our Nature Unwrapped series throughout 2020 in an article by The Arts Desk.

We are thrilled to announce that our Programme Director Helen Wallace was awarded ‘Concert Hall Manager of the Year’ by the Association of British Concert Halls awards in January 2020 in recognition of Venus Unwrapped.

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