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Introducing Inspirations: Playlists by Women Artists Featured in the WomenNOW Series

October 03, 2019

As part of its ongoing commitment to strengthening the role of women in classical music, and to showcase how #WomenRockClassical, The Philadelphia Orchestra has launched its first-ever playlist series on Spotify, as part of WomenNOW, the Orchestra’s season-long celebration of women in classical music. Each playlist in the Inspirations series will be curated by a female artist prominently featured in the Orchestra’s 201920 season. They will be featured on The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Spotify Artist Page.

Composer Valerie Coleman, whose orchestral version of Umoja, a Philadelphia Orchestra commission, premiered opening weekend (Sept. 19–22), kicks off the series with her selection of tracks featuring music by artists who have informed and inspired her life and career.

“The playlist offers more than just sharing favorite tunes; it offers a translatable glimpse into a casual, music analysis according to the artist's inspiration,” said Coleman. “What artists listen to is so very important as it influences their perspective so that they are able to think creatively and interpret freely. I am not surprised that The Philadelphia Orchestra has created such a brilliant initiative, as it is a world-class orchestra that knows how to truly connect with all the marvelously diverse communities in Philadelphia.”

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin adds, “It is important for arts organizations to provide unique perspectives and insights to their communities, and I am particularly excited about the opportunity to do this via Spotify, a platform that will allow even more people to engage with us and learn more about the inspirations behind remarkably talented artists such as Valerie, Juliette, Vivian, Marin, and Gabriela. The Orchestra is committed to inclusivity on our stages and in our programs, and we look forward to an incredible celebration of WomenNOW.”

Stream Valerie's Spotify playlist HERE.

Inspirations: Valerie Coleman 

Wayne Shorter: “Pegasus” from Without a Net“Touring with Wayne Shorter Quartet was a life-changing experience, as Wayne welcomed me into his brilliant world of space, mythology, and saxophone notes that sang like a shaman speaking the utter truth and nothing else.”

Mahler: Symphony No. 5 by The Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin“In listening to this recording, it seems like Maestro Yannick and Mahler were old friends reminiscing about old times, the good and the bad, but within a vibrant city teeming with life. The Orchestra’s performance undeniably sings with a force of true greatness. Goosebumps.”

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloė by Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin“There is sentimental value to this as I was just leaving home as a teenager to attend Tanglewood Music Festival for the first time and had the opportunity to witness a Boston Symphony concert featuring this piece. At the time, my mind was reeling around the questions of how Ravel orchestrated so brilliantly, and in studying his scores, I felt empowered to compose freely based directly on my imagination, without worry of judgement.”

Nate Smith: “Home Free for Peter Joe” and “Pages” from KINFOLK: Postcards from Everywhere—“In this album, jazz/funk percussionist Nate Smith (a friend of the family) stretches his wings in writing for strings and creates the most beautifully nostalgic song in dedication to his father. I have witnessed his growth as a composer over the years, and this album and track represents a true glimpse into Nate’s roots, growing up as a preacher’s son in the ’80s.”

Valerie Coleman: Umoja by Imani Winds—“I chose this because Imani Winds’ performance represents the simplest form of the work that is being premiered, in song. My writing has come a long way since then, but the piece remains new to me and to the students I share it with at the University of Miami Frost School of Music.”

Dafnis Prieto: “The Triumphant Journey” by Dafnis Prieto Big Band from Back to Sunset“Dafnis writes music that stirs as if Yemaya herself is creating it right out of healing waters and then sets the world on fire with it. You must listen to understand.”