Portrait Maria A. Niederberger August 2007


i.e. associations in which I am a member or to which I contribute actively on the board or in a committee


American Music Center
30 West 26th Street, Suite 1001
New York, NY 10010, USA

International Alliance for Women in Music
Department of Music
422 S. 11th St., Room 209
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, PA 15705-1070, USA

•Annual Concert 2003
•Annual Concert 2001
•Chairwoman Annual Concerts

Society of Composers, Inc.
old chelsea Station
box 450
New York City, NY 10113-0450, USA

Society for Music Theory
University of Chicago
Department of Music
1010 E. 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA

Music Teachers National Association
441 Vine St., Ste.505
Cincinnati, OH 45202, USA


IAWM Annual Concert 2003
(The Washington Post, Tuesday, June 3rd, 2003, page C03)

Chamber Music by Women Composers

Grace Jean for the Washington Post

The International Alliance for Women in Music and The National Museum of Women in the Arts presented the 13th Annual Concert of Chamber Music by Women Composers on Sunday afternoon in the museum's performance hall. Talented musicians performed mostly modern music, employing unconventional playing methods and ghostly technology.

A Yamaha Disklavier — a digital grand piano with recording and playback capabilities — rolled onstage for an intriguing performance with clarinetist Scott Locke in Kristine Burns's «Atanos I.» «Atanos» demanded flutter tonguing, pitch bending and earsplitting high notes from clarinet and thunking chords from Disklavier. Locke delivered a fine performance, but his high notes grated. He later returned on the A clarinet for «Exchanges», a trio by Laurie San Martin.

Using a varied touch at the keyboard, Joanne Polk performed Judith Lang Zaimont's «Sonata for Piano Solo» with delicate technical facility. Polk's glassy glissandi polished the sonata's overall style and color, reminiscent of Ravel.

Flutist Elizabeth McNutt demonstrated her instrument's versatility in Anne La Berge's «Revamper» and Elizabeth Brown's «Trillium». Challenging flutists not with finger–flying runs but with range, «Revamper» requires singing while playing low B simultaneously and overblowing notes for overtones. When McNutt wasn't bending pitches or playing tremolos for a shakuhachi (Japanese flute) effect in «Trillium», her silvery tone captured the essence of fleeting birdsong.

Cellist Amy Leung played passionately with a gorgeous tone and pianist Naoko Takao played intensely. Vocalist Thomas King and pianist–wife Vicki King performed Clara Schumann's «Four Songs» sweetly. The tenor, subdued in the two–lovers pieces, became an animated violet in «Das Veilchen» and incorporated operatic drama in «Lorelei».


IAWM Annual Concert 2001

International Alliance of Women in Music and National Museum of Women in the Arts:

Chamber Music by Women Composers

«Women on the Cutting Edge»

National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., June 10, 2001
By Susan Cohn Lackman

The program opened with a Keynote Address by Christine Ammer, author of «Unsung: A History of Women in American Music» (2nd edition, Amadeus Press, 2001). She remarked that the impetus for the first edition of her book (1980) originated when she tried to find information about American women musicians for her introduction of Quintessence, an all–woman woodwind quintet that performed at a NOW meeting in the 1970s. She could find nothing. (See the article on Quintessence in the Reports section.) She also noted that in the 70s more than half the students in the school orchestra were female, yet women players were rare in major professional orchestras. She reflected on the improvements in recent years, but noted that more still needs to be done.


The concert began with a work by Nga Ting Ada Lay, born in Hong Kong in 1975, and now studying for a Ph.D. degree in Australia. Her «Embrace: In memory of an old tree», the first of three works for woodwind quintet, created an aural picture. The composer used her palette and layered ostinati to portray a strong tree crowned with fluttering leaves, a symbol of her love, affection and reverence for her family.

Maria A. Martin started her life in Bulgaria, and her trio for flute, percussion and piano, «Gathering», conjured up a Bulgarian celebration. The taste of her home land was heard in melodic fragments and rhythms reminiscent of the spirit of Bela Bartók. Even in the slow opening for piano and vibraphone the players were required to tightly coordinate their parts, and when the dance–like flute joined the texture, the virtuosic demands only increased. With the skill of fine players this piece sounded jovial and frolicsome.

Alba L. Potes, in her «Tres Miniaturas para las Mariposas Ausentes for clarinet, bassoon and piano», aimed to depict the flitting of extinct butterflies in her native country, Columbia. In the first and last movements of the piece the pointillistic and rhythmic writing captured the delicacy and busyness of the butterflies, while the central movement recalled a very slow and mournful tango. The touches of exotic color in the trio were never obtrusive, yet the seasoning was delightful. Potes holds a Ph.D. from Temple University, and has received several performances of her works in the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Asia.

By far the most avant–garde work on the program was «Profaning the Sacred» by Janice Misurell-Mitchell. The composer herself was responsible for flute, alto flute and vocal parts; the other half of the duo, Richard Nunemaker, played clarinet and bass clarinet. The performers faced each other over banks of an incredibly complex score spread on music stands. After a short and perky opening, the focus of the piece appeared, a presentation of the poems «Howl» by Allen Ginsberg and «Blooz Man» and «Poet Woman» by Regie Gibson; the first was presented in its entirety, the Gibson poems were entwined. The words of the poems were spoken into the flute as it was being played, and they were growled, mumbled and shouted, almost unintelligible as though they were burbled from under water. There was a jazzy, bluesy solo featuring the clarinet to separate the two poets’ works, motifs of which returned to underline the vocalist’s rendition of the Gibson poems. Although not a typical setting of lyrics, the poems were presented effectively, and were given an especially caring performance.


Opening the second half of the concert was «Homage for Hildegard» by (IAWM Search for New Music) Miriam Gideon Prize–winner Elizabeth R. Austin. We heard three of the five sections of the work, which is based on Hildegard’s Caritas Abundat antiphon and is scored for mezzo–soprano and baritone, flute, clarinet, percussion and piano. The composition is well–crafted in its form and technique, but what makes its mark is the exuberance of the percussion instruments, especially the bells and chimes. Even the singers were given the responsibility of playing tambourine and triangle. The ringing percussion instruments were augmented at times by a carillon whap on the piano strings with a soft but stout mallet. Austin interprets the art of a millennium ago in a modern environment, and one believes that the Abbess would very much approve.

«Gi», by Injoo Joo, for clarinet, saxophone and piano, is a pointillistic piece in which the layering of lines leads to the accumulation of forward drive in the music. The slower middle movement introduces bent tones for the winds, and requires exacting technique, a virtuoso challenge that continues through the last movement of this demanding and ultimately energetic work.

«Impressionen» was the contribution of Violeta Dinescu, former board member of the IAWM and Romanian composer now residing in Germany. In this aural counterpart to paintings of Monet and Renoir, individual strands of melody that were spun out of the woodwind texture delicately drifted away. This was a kaleidoscope of timbres, but the edges of the design were softened and the colors melted into each other.

Beth Wiemann’s «Tightrope» was a bright contrast to the preceding work. This piece for woodwind quintet is based on a series of variations on a chord progression; the music sounds cohesive but not repetitive. The sunny optimism and playfulness of the piece explains its several performances and acceptance into the repertoire of chamber ensembles.

Korean composer Sabang Cho is a doctoral student at Boston University, and her «Quintet for Woodwinds» shows what this emerging composer can do. The four compact movements combine to form a sampler of woodwind writing. In the first, the counterpoint twists through melodies that remind one of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. The second is animated, and the third is a slowly rotating prism of multiphonic effects. The bent tones and timbre experiments continue into the highly organized motives of the final movement.


Conductor J. Michele Edwards rehearsed and directed the various ensembles and adroitly coordinated the tricky weaving of the instrument parts. The performers and the conductor, faced with new music of considerable difficulty, acquitted themselves with calm mastery and musicianship. Although we usually expect a program of diverse forces at the IAWM concerts, these nine ways of looking at woodwinds, solo and in different combinations, offered not only a delight for the ear, but food for the mind. Among the performers not already mentioned were Susan Barber, Randall Bennet, Carolyn Bryan, Alison Deadman, Christoph Dorner, Paul Edgar, Lin Foulk, Eugene Jones, Megumi Masaki, Judy May, Elizabeth McNutt, Beata Moon, Patricia Morehead, Eva Pierrou and Fiona Wilkinson. The IAWM is very appreciative of all of the talented volunteers who devoted so much time to ensure the success of the concert.

Special thanks to the Levine School of Music for providing rehearsal space, to Mary Findley for her assistance with many details, to the department of Art and Design and the Graphic Design Workshop of East Tennessee State University for their design work on the program, to IAWM Concert Coordinators Maria A. Niederberger and Patricia Morehead, and to the National Museum of Women in the Arts and its Curator of Education, Harriet McNamee.

Susan Cohn Lackman, Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Rollins College (Florida), is Treasurer of the IAWM. Well known for criticism and essays on the arts in the popular media, she holds a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, having earned earlier degrees from Temple University and American University.

Letter to the IAWM:

Two days after the IAWM Concert at The National Museum for Women in the Arts, I am compelled to acknowledge and marvel at the idealism and professionalism so prevalent that afternoon! When one considers that performers and composers from as far away as Australia, Asia and Europe took on the costs of such a trip to Washington, D.C., in order to be a part of this remarkable display of talent and musicianship, it is truly humbling and awe–inspiring.

Maria Niederberger and her co–chair, Patricia Morehead, are to be thanked and congratulated for their outstanding planning. The performers who played my music were all top notch and enthusiastic; J. Michele Edwards’ enlightened conducting made the ample rehearsal time pleasant and productive for everyone. Kudos all around: a magnificent and touching experience!
From Elizabeth R. Austin



Since 2000, I have chaired the annual IAWM concerts in Washington, D.C. As chair, I conceive the theme of the concert, conduct the yearly search for new music for the upcoming concert, organize the performance of the selected works, manage the budget, and assist with rehearsals and other organizational tasks.

Serving as chair has been an exhilarating experience. I had the privilege of meeting national and international talent, musicians who dazzled IAWM with their expertise and creativity at the Annual IAWM Concert.

Despite of the enormous workload of organizing an annual concert, I accepted the chairwomanship as a way of giving something back to the music community. It is a way of thanking my own supporters that had created and continue to create opportunities for my professional work as composer. With the Annual IAWM Concert, I wish to give talented IAWM members, be they composers or performers, female or male, opportunities to shine and to be heard in this important annual event.


One of my aims as chair has been the encouragement of international participation. Since the United States are so far–reaching, it is all too easy to leave out the rest of the world. My international outreach succeeded in many ways and much more work lies ahead. It is gratifying that IAWM reaps great benefits from its international work. IAWM members meet talented international musicians, exchange ideas and concerns, hear creative compositions and performances, and gain new perspectives on and insights into different cultures.

My international outreach has resulted in international publicity and reciprocity: The 2002 Annual IAWM Concert was discussed in «CASH», a widely distributed music journal of Hong Kong, China. In another venue, Korean composer Dr. Cecilia Heejeong Kim extended an invitation to IAWM to participate in their weeklong 2003 festival in Seoul, Korea. Korean women composers had learned of IAWM, because two of their members had been featured on separate annual IAWM concerts, namely in 2000 and 2001.


My second goal was and remains to optimize the professionalism of the annual IAWM concert. With increased international visibility and participation, the organizational task of preparing the annual concert has become so detailed and wide reaching, that several persons are needed to share the responsibility. Therefore, I chose a co–chair Lin Foulk and added several committee members for the coming season in June 2004.