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In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Office of Cultural Affairs and the South Orange Performing Arts Center have joined together to bring the region a virtual concert of music showcasing the music of women composers throughout the last 200 years. The concert features members from the Garden State Philharmonic Orchestra with Music Director and Conductor Diane Wittry and the South Orange Symphony under the leadership of Conductor Susan Haig. It is a rare and special feature to have two Symphony Orchestras conducted by women in the same region. The majority of the performers on this concert will also be women.

Two prominent women composers featured during the program are Valerie Coleman, a living African-American composers who was named Performance Today’s 2020 “Classical Woman of the Year,” and Florence Price, who was the 1st African-American composer to have a work performed by a major Symphony Orchestra – in 1933 the Chicago Symphony performed her Symphony No. 1. The concert will include “Umoja” (which means “Unity” in Swahili) by Coleman, and the “Andante” from String Quartet No. 2 by Price.

Music by Gabriela Lena Frank, another living composer who is of Latin-American heritage will also be performed. Ms. Frank is currently the Composer in Residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Her piece “Coqueteos” from Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout mixes elements from the western classical and Andean folk music traditions.

Other pieces on the concert include Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s String Quartet in Eb Major, and the final movement of Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz’s award winning String Quartet No. 4. Fanny was the sister of the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn, and Grazyna Bacewicz’s music won numerous awards and recognition during her lifetime.

The Garden State Philharmonic, a professional orchestra based at the Jersey Shore, has been bringing music to the residents of New Jersey for over 65 years. Under the artistic leadership of Conductor Diane Wittry, the GSP has expanded their concert season and is now performing in Essex and Monmouth Counties, as well as Ocean County.

The South Orange Symphony, is a community orchestra comprised of local amateur and professional musicians whose mission is to bring family-oriented concerts and community outreach in an effort to provide education and exposure to those who may not be familiar with classical music.

This is a free virtual event, but registration is required by using this link.


Members of the South Orange Symphony

Robert Radliff, Violin

Lucy Voin, Violin

Jordan Fusco, Viola

Diana Golden, Cello

Susan Haig, Music Director


Coleman, Valerie (b. 1970)

Arr. For String Quartet

Quartetto II Op. 3 in Bb Major

Lombardini-Syrmen, Madalena (1735-1818)

  • Andantino
  • Allegro

Members of the Garden State Philharmonic

Diane Wittry Music Director & Conductor

Una Tone, 1st Violin

Elizabeth Wright, 2nd Violin

Laura Sahin, Viola

Valeriya Sholokhova, Cello

String Quartet in Eb Major (1834) Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel

(1805 – 1847)

I. Adagio ma non troppo

II. Allegretto

III. Romanze

IV. Allegro molto vivace

“Andante” from String Quartet No. 2 (1935) Florence Price

(1887 – 1953)

“Allegro giocoso” from String Quartet No. 4 (1951) Grazyna Bacewicz

(1909 -1969)

“Coqueteos” from Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout (2001) Gabriela Lena Frank

(1972 -)