BBC Proms Commissions More Female than Male Composers

The festival is renowned for commissioning over a dozen new pieces each year, many of which eventually become part of the classical music canon

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The annual music festival at the Royal Albert Hall in London has commissioned pieces by eight female composers and five male composers.

This season's lineup includes new works written by Unsuk Chin, Augusta Read Thomas, Elizabeth Ogonek, Britta Bystrom, Gity Razaz, Grace-Evangeline Mason, Ella Milch-Sheriff, and Charlotte Bray.

In 2018, the festival set a target of commissioning an equal number of male and non-male composers by 2022, which it met this year and last year.

In 2020, the online BBC Proms commissioned music from 12 male composers, 11 female composers, and one non-binary composer.

When the target was first announced, some criticized it as "tokenism" of female composers, considering gender in addition to artistic merit when choosing which composers to commission.

The BBC Proms wrote in a statement on August 6 that "it is known that metrics enable change to happen. This target has and will continue to enable us to discover exciting new voices. Programming is done by artistic merit, and we are rigorous about the decisions we make around excellence and are constantly seeking out new voices to add to the musical landscape."

The effort aims to "grapple with the fact that there are not so many symphonic pieces written by women in the 18th and 19th century," BBC Proms Director David Pickard told The Telegraph.

View the current festival's full schedule on its website, bbc.co.uk/proms.