La Boîte à Pépites, meaning “a box full of jewels,” is a French classical label led by its artistic director, artist, and cellist Héloîse Luzzati. The label shares music by female composers that have been left unrecorded and unknown to the music world.
On September 30, 2022, the label will be releasing an album of music by the French composer Charlotte Sohy. The label itself launched on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2022.
La Boîte à Pépites’ first release is a product of Luzzati’s collaboration with conductor Debora Waldman and François-Henri Labey, Sohy’s grandson, whose efforts in preserving the scores made the recordings for the album possible.
Born in France in 1887, Charlotte Sohy was mentored by Louis Vierne and Vincent d’Indy, and among her acquaintances was composer Nadia Boulanger. Sohy wrote lyrical dramas, chamber, and symphonic music, however, almost none of her 35 works have ever been published. A video about her life can be viewed below.
Historically, barely four percent of classical music works performed live in concert were written by women — a case that still stands today, the PIAS Record Label reports. They added that female composers are still highly invisible; absent from the standard musical repertoire learned in conservatories, and absent from concert programs. As studies have revealed, while change is occurring, there is an ongoing effort needed to promote female composers.
Through the much-needed and extensive research of rediscovering forgotten pieces, manuscripts, studying scores, plus publishing and releasing works by female composers, La Boîte à Pépites is able to make a “long-overdue correction” in the way female composers have been represented in the past and how they will be moving forward.
La Boîte à Pépites have unearthed compositions by female composers from around the world, from the Middle Ages to the modern era, and from solo instrumental to chamber music and orchestral works — covering all genres and formats in the history of music.
The record label was formed as part of Luzzati’s Elles – Women Composers project, where Luzzati has collaborated with multiple French cultural organizations including the National Orchestra of Avignon-Provence, Orchestre National d’Île-de-France, Royaumont Abbey, and Palazzetto Bru Zane.
Sohy’s album will be followed by the 2023 release of Rita Strohl’s works. Musicians contributing to the label’s future recordings include Karine Deshayes, Elsa Dreisig, Marie-Josèphe Jude, Célia Oneto Bensaid, Fiona MacGown, the Modigliani Quartet, and the Trio Wanderer.
“A few years ago, the question of the role of women in the history of music began to gain a certain importance in my life as a musician,” said Luzzati.
“How could I have spent so many years without ever having played a piece composed by a woman?” she questioned.
“By having the pieces recorded by a plethora of different artists, my hope is to shift the emphasis of the CDs from the players to the composer, and to help her works to, little by little, come to their proper place in the history of classical music.”
Alongside their label work, La Boîte à Pépites also produces a festival and mini-documentaries on YouTube.