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Shining a Light on Female-Identifying Jazz Composers

Posted by:
Carla Bley, Maria Schneider, Ellen Rowe, Mary Lou Williams, and Patty Darling.
October 29, 2019
By Reesa Nelson
Marketing and Communications Manager

The University Jazz Ensemble, a 19-piece performing group, will present the concert A Tribute to Women Composers on Friday, November 8, 2019 at 8 PM. Featuring the work of five female jazz composers, the concert will be held in Eastvold Auditorium in the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Pacific Lutheran University’s campus.

When we think of women in jazz, we often think of the many incredible female singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan who used their vocal talents to leave a mark on their most famous songs. The role of female composers in jazz music is often obscured. The objective of this concert is to showcase compositions written by women who have contributed to the jazz repertoire over the last century. The University Jazz Ensemble will play music written by five female composers: Mary Lou Williams, Maria Schneider, Patty Darling, Ellen Rowe, and Carla Bley. The pieces presented at this concert represent a small sample of a body of compositions that have been growing steadily over the decades. With music written as early as in the 1930s and as recently as five years ago, this concert will span many eras and iterations of jazz, from swing era “popular” music to bold, modern works.

Cassio Vianna, Director of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Music, assembled the concert repertoire for the benefit of both the music students and the community. “I wanted to challenge our students and create a new listening opportunity for audiences. One of the added benefits is the diversification of PLU’s music library, since we are performing works that have never been played on our campus before.” Purchasing the rights to perform more diverse work will have ripple effects in the years to come, encouraging more students to become familiar with the work of talented female jazz composers.

Tickets are on sale now. Prices are $10 for general admission; $5 for seniors (60+), Military, alumni, and PLU community; and free for youth under 18 and PLU students. Tickets are available online only at For additional information, call the School of Arts and Communication at 253.535.7150 or