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Musica Spira: The Ugly Virtuosa

Thursday, November 14, 2019
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall

Musica Spira, featuring Grace Srinivasan, soprano, and Paula Maust, harpsichord, with guest artist Stephanie Zimmerman, baroque violin, present “The Ugly Virtuosa — Reviews of the Women Behind the Music.”

Women’s rise to fame as professional musicians on stage in the seventeenth century coincided with the birth of print journalism and music criticism. The very presence of women on the public stage sparked numerous social, religious, and legal debates throughout western Europe. From those who decried the immorality of female performers to those who fetishized, courted, and even assaulted them, most early modern men who were writing seemed to have strong opinions about the women on stage. The female perspective on this critical issue in the history of women’s rights is sadly lost to history.

This program for soprano, violin, and harpsichord recreates works by famous male baroque composers that were premiered by women who were pioneers in the field of public music performance. Each of these women, including Margherita Durastanti, Anna Maria della Pietà, Anne Bracegirdle, La Maupin, and Fanchon Moreau, achieved tremendous success as professional musicians, yet printed reviews of their performances often focus more on their physical appearance than on their musical prowess. Readings of these reviews will precede each piece. “The Ugly Virtuosa” celebrates the tremendous accomplishments of women who were able to successfully take the stage amidst controversy and emphasizes the importance of how the ways in which we choose to describe others can have lasting and powerful effects.


Musica Spira will present a pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m.


$15 general admission, $10 seniors, $5 students, free for UMBC music majors and music faculty/staff, available online or at the box office one hour prior to the performance.


Plan your visit
UMBC is located about 10 minutes south of the Inner Harbor along I-95. For this event, free visitor parking is available in Lot 8, directly adjacent to the Performing Arts and Humanities Building, where Linehan Concert Hall is located — please visit here for additional information.


Major funding for this program was provided by the Center for Innovation, Research and Creativity in the Arts (CIRCA).

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