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Unbounded - Music by American Women - Beach, Higdon, Moore & Smith / Dawn Wohn; Emely Phelps

Unbounded - Music by American Women - Beach, Higdon, Moore & Smith / Dawn Wohn; Emely Phelps

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As a second generation Korean-American woman, violinist Dawn Wohn notes that it has not always been easy to relate to the world of classical music, which is still largely Euro- and male-centric. Since delving into the diverse world of female composers, I have felt much joy, connection, and ownership to the music that I perform. To be able to champion this repertoire feels unbounded— joyful and limitless. I am particularly excited to share this album, which celebrates the music of American women, as performed by two American women.

There is no denying that historically, female composers have faced challenges. Amy Beach was unable to take composition lessons or have a performing career for most of her life, as it was deemed improper for a married woman. The two Black composers on this album, Dorothy Rudd Moore and Irene Britton Smith, faced further struggles for widespread recognition during their lifetimes, due to the classical world’s long reluctance to admit works by minority composers into the performing canon.

In an ideal world, there would be no need to call attention to the race or gender of these composers. In doing so, my concern is that the composers or their works will be overshadowed or grouped together by those labels. Just as Moore cautioned against typecasting, stating that “there are many Black artists in all disciplines and each is an individual with his or her unique experiences,” it is important to listen to and recognize each composer as an individual.

However, an all-male composer program would not raise questions on how to present it without diminishing the music or pigeon- holing the music or the composers. So, with this album, I choose to amplify and celebrate music by these four composers and all they have created through adversity. I relate deeply to the optimism, humor and beauty in these works, and hope that it inspires the listener.


The two artists play with passion and elegantly the music of four composers defined not by gender or ethnicity but by the kind of tenacity that helped them achieve the often seemingly unreachable acceptance of the music establishment. Highly recommended!

-- All About the Arts (Rafael de Acha)

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Product Description:

  • Release Date: August 18, 2023

  • UPC: 013491359922

  • Catalog Number: DE 3599

  • Label: Delos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century, Contemporary

  • Composer: Amy Beach, Jennifer Higdon, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Irene Britton Smith

  • Performer: Dawn Wohn, Emely Phelps