The Minerva Festival: a Cambridge-wide festival of music

The Minerva Festival is a celebration of the diverse and beautiful music written by women composers, taking place across Cambridge.

Now in its second year, the Minerva Festival explores music by women and non-binary people in a series of recitals featuring chamber groups and soloists. There’s also a series of talks, a competition for female and non-binary composers and a closing concert on International Women’s Day.

The Minerva Festival is run by Newnham MCR member Hannah Dixon, who is now studying for an MPhil in musicology. Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of music by Newnham composers past and present to be heard, including Janet Wheeler, Sheena Philips, Sarah Cattley, and Siri Livingston.

Last night (Sunday 19th Jan), Janet Wheeler was at Evensong in Clare College Chapel the perform her setting of the Responses, among much other music by women composers. Janet tweeted “Thrilled to hear fabulous Clare Choir singing my Responses so beautifully at the Minerva Festival evensong yesterday. A great service – really loved the anthem ‘Drop down ye heavens’ from Emily Hazrati’.” 

Hannah Dixon explains “Our conductors, our soloists, and programmers, all of whom have studied music to various levels, were taught (almost) exclusively about music by men. We need to promote an understanding of music that transcends the idea of a single musical ‘canon’ – a body of musical ‘works’ which we decide should be immortalised for study and performance.” A fascinating blog discusses diverse topics including the Western canon, parenthood and careers in music, and 19th century perceptions of gender of musical instruments.

Dr Delphine Mordey, Director of Studies in Music at Newnham said, “It’s a truly inspiring event, and was hugely successful last year – and Hannah is doing a fantastic job of running it”

The website is here:

All of our events are in aid of the Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre. Several of the events are at Newnham, so we hope to see some of you there!