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Sarah Cahill celebrates the 19th amendment in 'The Future is Female'


Sarah Cahill will perform her latest piano project, "The Future Is Female," at the CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio on Nov. 16, 2019. Photo courtesy of Marianne La Rochelle. 

Sarah Cahill is known for her lifetime dedication to supporting the artistic works of women. Cahill’s latest project, a piano concert called “The Future is Female,” originally started as a dream that her husband had. 

“He woke up one morning and he said ‘I had this dream that you played all this music by women and the project was called 'Smash the Patriarchy!’' and that I was commissioning music from composers in tribute to women in the past,” Cahill said.

Cahill will feature the works of composers from the 17th century to the present day on Nov. 16 at the CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio.

Cahill is a pianist, writer, and producer based in California. Her latest project features over 60 compositions by women around the world. Some of the composers include Chen Yi, Meredith Monk, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Clara Schumann.

“The ultimate goal is to have more equity in programming so that we hear music by men and women both in concerts,” Cahill said. “Right now, the classical music we hear is pretty much exclusively by men. We need to create a balance.”

Cahill said she wanted to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. To begin this project she conducted research to discover women who were writing in Mozart and Beethoven's time, composers that she said we never hear.

“You go to the symphony and you hear a program of all men, and a lot of people just don't question that," Cahill said. "And I’d like people to question that more."

Cahill’s performance will begin at 5 p.m. and continue for approximately five hours. 

“It is an endurance test," Cahill said. "It is physically a lot, some of the pieces are very intricate and physically demanding."

While the purpose is for ticket holders to emerge themselves within the music, they are not expected to endure the physical and mental test alongside Cahill. Attendees are welcome to arrive at any time during the performance and leave when it suits them. 

Jess Abel is the marketing and communications coordinator for Carolina Performing Arts. She said this performance is not a typical recital, so attendees are encouraged to engage with the music in a variety of ways. 

“You can bring food, you can picnic if you'd like, we have couches, you can stand, we're just trying to make this very interactive and exploratory for anyone who's interested," Abel said. 

Abel related the performance to the larger theme of Carolina Performing Arts' programming for the year. 

“Our theme throughout the year is revolving around the 19th amendment, and women being empowered to vote and empowered in art,” Abel said.

Dan Ruccia is a close collaborator with Carolina Performing Arts. He has been writing materials for them for two and a half years, with a particular focus on classical and jazz music. 

Ruccia is a composer with a Ph.D. in composition from Duke University. He assembled the listening guide for "The Future is Female." 

“Meredith Monk’s 'St. Petersburg Waltz' is this minimalist, dark and really beautiful piece,” Ruccia said. “And Annea Lockwood’s 'Ear-Walking Woman' has really great compared piano textures.”

Cahill said she hopes this project will fulfill her small part in celebrating the diversity, beauty and power of music composed by women through the centuries. This will be her first performance in the Chapel Hill area. 

“It’s a great privilege to be a part of the Carolina Performing Arts series and a great privilege to be playing this fabulous music,” Cahill said. 


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