Six Women Who Made Their Mark in the Music World Will Speak at Free Womens’ Studies Conference at Queens College March 14

     — A World-Renowned Conductor, the Leading Klezmer Fiddler
and an Editor at NPR Music Are Among the Panelists —

FLUSHING, NY, March 3, 2011 –Diane Wittry, internationally acclaimed as a “visionary musician” who conducts with “passion and strength” and “gets to the heart and soul of the music” (quoted from recent reviews of her performances), is considered a role model for women conductors throughout the United States.  Her book Beyond the Baton, which was nominated for a 2007 Pulitzer Prize, is the focus of a yearly National Conducting Workshop that helps young conductors become more effective music directors.  As the music director of the Allentown Symphony and Norwalk Symphony orchestras, she has helped expand the size of each organization’s concert seasons.  Known for her innovative and creative concert programming style, the award-winning maestro and composer has also guest-conducted with several of the finest symphony orchestras in the U.S. and abroad.

On Monday, March 14, from 9 am –12:15 pm on the 4th floor of Queens College’s Student Union, Wittry will join a panel of five other women who have gained prominence in their individual areas of specialization in the music field.  Free and open to the public, the annual Virginia Frese Palmer conference celebrating Women’s History Month will focus this year on “Women in the Music World.” Each panelist will discuss her career experiences, accomplishments and any obstacles she may have encountered when climbing up her professional ladder.  A question and answer session will follow the discussion.

The panelists include:

Alicia Svigals:  Considered the world’s leading klezmer fiddler, Svigals is a founder of the Grammy-winning band the Klezmatics.  She has played with and composed for violinist Itzhak Perlman, the Kronos Quartet, playwrights Tony Kushner and Eve Ensler, the Led Zeppelin rock band, and the late Allen Ginsberg.  Svigals has also appeared with the Klezmatics on Late Night with David Letterman, MTV News, Good Morning America, Nickelodeon and NPR Radio.

Frannie Kelley is an editor at NPR Music, working on music news and issues projects.  Last year she produced “Hey Ladies,” a series of stories for radio and the web, based on a questionnaire filled out by nearly 800 working female musicians.  The series included a writers’ roundtable, a slideshow of classical music CD art and a story about pop stars.

Marisa Meltzer:  The author of Girl Power:  The Nineties Revolution in Music (2010), which examines the role of women in rock music since the riot grrrl (underground feminist punk) movement of the early 1990s.  She is also co-author of How Sassy Changed My Life about the rise and fall of the revolutionary teen magazine.  Meltzer has written articles for The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Elle, and Teen Vogue

Gwendolyn Pough:  A Women’s and Gender Studies, Writing and Rhetoric professor at Syracuse University and the author of Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip-Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere, as well as numerous articles on black feminism, hip-hop, and black culture. She edited Home Girls Make Some Noise:  A Hip-Hop Feminism Anthology.  Pough also writes fiction under the pen name Gwyneth Bolton.

Raquel Rivera is an author, editor and singer-songwriter, having written the scholarly book New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone and articles on Caribbean/Latino popular music and culture.  Her debut CD is Las 7 salves de La Magdalena (7 Songs of Praise for Mary Magdalene).

The Virginia Frese Palmer Conference, named for one of Queens College’s supporters of the Women’s Studies program, was established in 2002 as an annual conference to address some of the key issues and problems facing today’s women.  Previous conference topics have included “Women and Economics:  The Global Picture”; “Is Gender Still a Sexy Topic?”; “Women and Violence”; “Feminism and Multiculturalism”; “Women and the Iraq War”; “Female Image Makers”; “Women and Sports”; “Women and Civil Rights”, and “Gender in the Workplace.”

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Contact: Phyllis Cohen Stevens
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Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services