Women In Music

In the month of March, Women’s History Month, the Rockford Symphony Orchestra celebrates the roles of women in music in the past, present, and future.

Pops Concert: Women Rock

March 7, 2020 at 7:30pm

RSO honors female singers and songwriters who have changed Rock ‘n Roll. Special guests perform the music of Carole King, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Pat Benatar, and Heart with featured songs including I Feel The Earth Move, What’s Love Got To Do With It, Freeway of Love, Dancing In The Street, and more.

Celebrating the Future: The winner of the Sing Off, a high school singer, will perform with the RSO on this concert! Watch for more details to come!

Classics Concert: Beethoven's Second

March 28, 2020 at 7:30pm

Featuring Cosette Justo Valdés as guest conductor and pianist Mūza Rubackytė. This program will feature Missy Mazzoli’s, Sinfonia (for orbiting spheres), Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major.

Celebrating the Future: Cosette Justo Valdés will visit East High School and talk with their musicians about her path to becoming a female conductor. Then, these high school musicians will attend the RSO performance and see her in action!

CANCELLED. Click here for more information.

SoundBites with Cosette and Mūza

Friday, March 27, 2020 at 12:00pm

Join Music Director Steven Larsen a for free, informal, and enlightening 60-minute discussion with RSO guest conductor Cosette Justo Valdés and pianist Mūza Rubackytė at the Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Club.

CANCELLED. Click here for more information.

Listen to Education and Community Engagement Director Margo Stedman speak with Libby Parker about the history of Women in Music in this 26-minute Podcast.

Women in Music on the RSO's 19/20 Season

In 84 years the Rockford Symphony has performed about 2000 works: only eight have been by women. The 19/20 Season will change this by featuring a female composer on nearly every Classics concert.

From the earliest days of Western music women have been underrepresented as both performers and creators. As little as 75 years ago all of the world’s major orchestras were exclusively male, as were all conductors and virtually all composers whose works were performed on concert stages and in opera houses.

The 19/20 Season overlaps with the celebration of Women’s Suffrage and the 19th amendment to the Constitution. Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote.



Beach was an American composer and pianist. Her “Gaelic” Symphony was premiered by the Boston Symphony in 1896, the first symphony composed and published by an American woman. Beach was the first successful American female composer without any European training in large scale art music.


b. 1954

Coleman is an internationally-acclaimed composer in the genres of orchestral and chamber music. An accomplished pianist, Coleman has been performing since the age of six and has worked professionally as a jazz and classical soloist and accompanist. She has been the recipient of more than 70 commissions for compositions.


b. 1950

Grammy-winning composer Libby Larsen’s works are among the most performed of any living composer. She has composed over 500 works spanning across all genres of music, and her works are widely recorded. She is constantly sought after for commissions and premieres by major artists, ensembles, and orchestras around the world and has established a permanent place for her works in the concert repertory.


b. 1980

Grammy-nominated composer Missy Mazzoli made history in 2018 when she became one of the two first women to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. She is currently the Mead Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mazzoli is an active pianist and keyboardist, and often performs with Victoire, a band she founded in 2008 dedicated to her own compositions.


b. 1980

London-born Anna Clyne is a Grammy-nominated composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music. Clyne has been commissioned by a wide range of ensembles and institutions. Appointed by Music Director Riccardo Muti, Clyne served as the Mead Composer-in-Residence for the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra from 2010-2015.


Generously sponsored in part by:

Gloyd Family Foundation