Podcasts and Videos
As Lolita Ritmanis sat down to begin the process of composing an original symphonic work to support Chapter One of Women Warriors: The Voices of Change, the powerful subject of women throughout history seemed a daunting task to write for. How does one comment musically on such a broad overview of the collective “long road,” while paying homage to individual achievements, obstacles, and battles won and lost?
Chapter 2: ‘Freedom – Women Unite’ tracks the development of feminism as it emerged in the 1960–1970’s. When Miriam Cutler was invited to be part of the Women Warriors, Voices of Change concert, her response was an enthusiastic YES! The event is a natural extension of Cutler’s long career in documentary work as a film composer. Cutler is both an activist and an artist; and needs the combination of social consciousness and music that documentaries provide.
As an adolescent growing up in the 80’s in Sofia, Bulgaria, Penka Kouneva was very scared by the AIDS pandemic. She remembers thinking about the trauma each infected person was experiencing and tried to imagine how it feels to live with a death sentence hovering over one’s heads. Later, she got to meet and make friends with people who were HIV-positive and their resilience, willpower, and commitment to heal touched her deeply. Kouneva’s music for this chapter has urgency and drama, but also compassion and hope expressed in the soaring emotional melodies.
Starr Parodi first entered the public eye as part of the house band on the hit late-night Arsenio Hall Show. Since then she has created scores for numerous films, television series, and iconic movie trailers. Her solo work has been featured on NPR, LA’s non-comm powerhouse radio station - KCRW, and on iHEART Radio. Parodi’s darkly innovative production/arrangement of the JAMES BOND Theme which received an RIAA Gold Record was credited by Forbes magazine as “reinventing the modern action movie trailer.”
For this chapter, which shows Israeli and Palestinian women peacefully coming together and searching for common language amidst the most violent, continuous and divisive war of our modern times, Kouneva’s soaring piece ‘Earth’ expresses love, care and humility honoring the power of the human spirit to rise above conflict, hatred and profound differences. In this piece she strived for the music to have a timeless and universal sound. Bonin’s soulful violin solo transcends nations, religions, and ideologies, speaking the language of brotherhood, peace, and reconciliation.
For this chapter, Sharon Farber composed “Hurryiah-Wind in My Hair, ” honoring Masih Alinejad and the struggle for freedom by the women of Iran. Farber says; “To feel the ‘Wind in my hair’ is such a simple request and yet in many parts of the world, this plea is denied.” The piece was a musical opportunity for Farber to create a fusion of Middle Eastern rhythms combined with the rich sound of the orchestra, and one female voice asking for freedom.
Nathalie Bonin’s composition ‘Tender Dismay’ for Chapter Seven ‘Mother Earth Protectors’ honors Biologist and environmentalist Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring.
The feelings Penka Kouneva had watching the ‘Standing Rock’ media coverage were rage, anger and disgust. Water is the most precious resource on our planet. Yet, millions of people around the world have no access to clean drinking water and so many preventable deaths around the globe happen because of contaminated water.
‘Climate Revolutionaries’ is meant to underscore the very real connection women have with the earth, and the understanding that we need to heal ourselves and our planet. Miriam Cutler understands the reality that we now must come together on a global scale to fight for earth justice and life itself.
Film and television composer Mandy Hoffman collaborates with the young Afghani rapper, Sonita Alizadeh on her song ‘Daughters For Sale.’ Depicting the heartbreaking tale of how child brides are still sold in Afghanistan everyday, Alizadeh, almost a child bride herself, luckily escaped, came to America, and became an activist who is now about to attend college.
Intense and emotional, Nathalie Bonin’s memoriam to victims of honor killings; ‘Prayer’ illustrates a moment of mourning, reflection and hope. When Bonin composed this piece, she wanted to create a very sacred mood where we feel the loss and the pain, but also the hope shining through.
Penka Kouneva’s impulse as a composer is to always write music that transcends space and time. For the ‘Our Truth’ chapter, Kouneva’s composition; ‘Starry Way’ addresses women around the globe who have overcome profound traumas in their lives and yet are role models for their communities, leading by example.
Sharon Farber wrote “Say Their Names,” which highlights the three founders of Black Lives Matter. Farber says that she cannot imagine the heartache of losing a child, and says from this experience, a new, strong and determined voice of change will emerge, with a call for human dignity and respect for all life.
Chapter Ten “Parkland” honors three activists who survived the Parkland shooting. Featuring fifteen year old singer/songwriter Isolde Fair, the song is a memorial for those who were murdered. Isolde Fair has been writing and performing music since she can remember. She plays electric bass, has studied the violin since 5 years of age, and has played piano since she was a baby, thanks in part, to her mother, Starr Parodi. Isolde draws her inspiration from every day living like school and her peers as well as world events.
The Me Too chapter highlights a painful subject for Penka Kouneva as the overwhelming majority of women bear scars of some form of sexual violence against them. Extremely intense and seething with anger, Kouneva’s piece realizes a big breakthrough towards the end symbolizing that finally this issue has been brought out into the open. Women are the creators and nurturers of life itself and it was a great honor for Kouneva to compose music that underscores their battle.
The “Honor Her” chapter highlights women who have propelled humanity forward, with their courage, vision, integrity and selfless care for their fellow human beings. Penka Kouneva’s music honors mothers, sisters, daughters, and grandmothers of all races and cultures, as well as a number of distinguished women. The composition written with Fred E. Smith begins with soulful solo cello and then goes into a jubilant orchestral celebration. Inspired by Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, it’s one of the most positive, uplifting and joyful compositions Kouneva has ever written.
Women Warriors: The Voices of Change is a ground-breaking concert creation that honors the strength and heroism of global activists fighting for social justice, human and civil rights, environmental causes, minority rights, gender equality and for the right of every girl to have access to education. Amy Andersson, the creative force behind Women Warriors, talks about how she came up with the idea for this event, why it’s so important, and where she hopes to take it in the future.