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MAINSTAGE PERFORMANCE: Sirens, interrupted!

  • Hallowed Halls 4420 Southeast 64th Avenue Portland, OR, 97206 United States (map)

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“For too many centuries women have been being muses to artists. I wanted to be the muse, I wanted to be the wife of the artist, but I was really trying to avoid the final issue — that I had to do the job myself.” ― Anaïs Nin

Our resident professional ensemble, The Broken Consort, will present a mesmerizing program of virtuosic polyphony and improvisation inspired by women innovators over a 800-year period. Music made by disobedient women; by courageous women; by thinkers and doers who dared to act outside the box.

We will start by exploring a group of innovative nuns in 13th century Iberia, who passed onto us the very first collection of virtuosic vocal music provably performed by and composed by women. These nuns at the Las Huelgas Convent was so powerful, the abyss had the ability to appoint local priests and pass law.  Many of these nuns came from privileged backgrounds, and saw a life in the convent as the only way out from the responsibility and burden of marriage and child-rearing. It was an opportunity to focus on intellectual pursuits. The result? Exceptionally beautiful art come from many years of dedication and experimentation. And the knowledge that women have always been making music. 

Then, we fast forward four hundred years and land in 17th c. Italy, where a collection of skilled women musicians were making a splash in the area of professional music. They inspired audience, patrons, and composers alike, and opened up a new line of musical language unlike anything prior. These ladies, known as concerto delle donne, or more famously the Ladies of Ferrara, performed and improvised extensively with one another, and with some of the most innovative thinkers and musicians of their time. Their musical pursuits inspired the development of madrigals, and also the seconda practica. They were paid and treated as any other male professionals (which was absolutely new in court music!).

And then, we fast forward another three hundred years and land in contemporary classical music. We will feature some of the most interesting creative voices of our time, alongside and echoing the courage and grace of all those who came prior and opened the door.


Maggie Finnegan, soprano (Boston, MA)

Julie Bosworth, soprano (Baltimore, MD)

Emily Lau, mezzo-soprano, artistic director (Portland, OR)

Jessica Schaeffer, harp (San Francisco, CA)

Niccolo Seligmann, viola ga gamba, vielle (Los Angeles, CA)

Les Green, narrator (Portland, OR)


General admission: $35 / Premier seating: $50 / Students: $10

Big Mouth members: Always free

Later Event: April 14
Big Mouth Salon