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TubaCor Interview: Female Composers, Word of Advice

JD: Which new female composers would you recommend for brass ensembles of all shapes and sizes?

LF: There are a lot of composers listed on my website (www.linfoulk.org).  Those who are writing quite a bit for most brass instruments include (these are in no particular order): Elizabeth Raum, Barbara York, Libby Larsen, Joan Tower (she wrote a new piece for B5 called “Copperwave,” which I think is very strong), Lauren Bernofsky, Gwyneth Walker.  Monique Buzzarte (trombonist in NYC) also has a great site for locating brass works by female composers: http://www.buzzarte.org/database.html.

JD: What advice would you give to an aspiring female brass musician?

LF: Have an awareness of, but don’t dwell on being a female brass musician.  As Susan Slaughter once said in a 1991 article in the Boston Globe, “I tell my female students they can’t be ‘as good as’ anybody else; they have to be better.”  Practice more than anyone in your circle.  Also, don’t be a victim.  Any time you hear crud from colleagues, the problem is with them, not you, so leave it there.  Develop a thick skin to slip on when you have to deal with particularly difficult colleagues.  They can’t get at your core unless you let them.  Finally, playing a brass instrument is highly demanding physically.  You have to be assertive in your approach, even if you’re not a particularly assertive person.  When you perform, you are an actress who must express a full palette of characters and emotions, which includes aggressive, loud, and angry.  Many girls are trained to suppress those emotions, so it might be uncomfortable to play music like that.  But you have to get over that if you play a brass instrument—it’s not who you are, it’s the character you play.

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