NPR

Looking For Women's Music At The Symphony? Good Luck!

Recent surveys show that less than 2 percent of music performed by American orchestras is by women composers. This year's Pulitzer Prize winner, Du Yun, speaks out on diversity in the concert hall.

Although more women have been winning Pulitzer Prizes for music lately, it's still next to impossible to hear works by female composers performed by America's symphony orchestras.

This year's Pulitzer winner, Du Yun, has a lot to say about the situation.

The last time I spoke with her it was April 10, she had just won the prize and was stepping out of her noisy hotel bar in Abu Dhabi to take the call. She was attending the 2017 Culture Summit which presented sessions such as "Globalization and the Other: Lessons from Refugees and The Dislocated."

A native of Shanghai currently based in New York, Du Yun says she's "very plugged into social change" and she's keen to discuss the entangled intersections of music and social issues around the world. She won the Pulitzer for Angel's Bone, an eclectic opera that mixes renaissance, punk and contemporary classical styles while telling a harrowing tale of human trafficking.

The conversation below – which has been edited for length and clarity – centers on the lack of women's music in America's symphony halls and follows a provocative essay by composer Mohammed Fairouz published earlier this week.


Tom Huizenga: Let me present to you a few numbers. In a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra survey

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