Ethel Smyth: The March of the Women

Written by Mila Henry

Music Director and Pianist

In category: Song of the Day

Published May 6, 2019

With so many possibilities, I decided to use the themes of Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin as the themes of my “Song of the Day.” Women’s rights. Civil rights. Women’s suffrage. Pacifism. And a whole lot of Fierce Grace.

P.S. While 2020 is the centennial of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, it was actually passed by Congress on June 4, 1919…meaning our performance on June 11, 2019 is celebrating a centennial as well!

Let’s start with Ethel Smyth, Dame, suffragette and the first female composer to have an opera premiered at The Met. (The latter of which was a title held for more than a century, but that’s another blog post…) Composed in 1910, “The March of the Women” became the anthem of the Women’s Suffrage movement, particularly in the UK. While I can’t say for certain if the Montana-born Rankin (who was a suffragist, not a suffragette) heard this anthem, I learned that she marched during the Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington, D.C. in 1913, three years before being the first woman elected to Congress. “Shout, shout, up with your song!” these women sing, and “Fight for women, fight for suffrage, fight for peace” proclaims the first song of Fierce Grace (text by Kimberly Reed, music by Ellen Reid).

author: Mila Henry

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Mila Henry is a music director, pianist, and the future Artistic Director of American Opera Projects (beginning in July 2019). “A stalwart contributor to the contemporary opera scene” (Opera Ithaca), Mila has lead rock musicals, hybrid performance pieces and folk operas; performed at The Stone, The Apollo and the Library of Congress; and traveled to Opera Philadelphia, LA Opera and Dutch National Opera. She can be heard on Voices of Women (Affetto Records) and Love & Trouble (Roven Records), and is a core member of the band Opera Cowgirls.

Hear Mila perform in NYFOS Next: Laura Kaminsky & Friends on June 11 at 7:30 at The Center. Tickets available from Five Boroughs Music Festival.


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