The Minerva Festival is a city-wide celebration of music composed by women and non-binary people. Now in its second year, it started life as Cambridge Female Composers Festival, founded by a group of students from Cambridge University to highlight the work of women composers. The Festival’s name change for 2020 reflects both a desire to be more inclusive and a commitment to supporting the musical work of women and non-binary people.
In a varied programme, the recital series offers several events each week at colleges, churches and Kettle’s Yard, showcasing a broad range of instruments and music styles including musical theatre and jazz at Bar Nights, recorder and viola recitals as well as song. You’ll find services of Evensong and Compline in beautiful College chapels while King’s College Chapel will host a Sequence of Music and Readings for International Women’s Day.
There’s a workshop on the use of computer coding and electronics in live performance, talks on female composers and a panel discussion with stakeholders in the Cambridge music scene who’ll look at studying women in music and performance of their work.
The Minerva Festival’s Composition Competition is open to students and recent graduates of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin universities. Women and non-binary composers are invited to submit a new a cappella choral work. Shortlisted entries will be workshopped by choral scholars and judged by a panel of leading female composers including Judith Weir and Deborah Pritchard. The winning composer will receive a cash prize of £100 and their work will be premiered in the International Women’s Day Concert on 8 March.
This International Women’s Day Concert will also feature a range of works by women and non-binary composers. Held in the stunning Chapel of Trinity College, with a pre-concert talk at Heffers, proceeds from ticket sales and a retiring collection will go to Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre which offers support to women and girls who have experienced rape, childhood sexual abuse or any other form of sexual violence. Last year, the Festival raised just over £1600 for this amazing organisation, which is dependent on such donations to keep their essential services running.
The Minerva Festival runs from 25 January to 9 March. Details of the full programme are on their website, all events (except the International Women’s Day Concert) are free to attend and everybody is welcome.