New record label devoted to forgotten women composers launches this autumn

La Boîte à Pépites will launch on 30 September with an album of music by the French composer Charlotte Sohy

Published: July 26, 2022 at 12:37 pm
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A new record label devoted to releasing music by forgotten women composers will be launched this September.

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Founded by cellist Héloïse Luzzati, La Boîte à Pépites launches on 30 September with its debut album: a 3 CD boxset of the complete works by Charlotte Sohy. This will be followed, in 2023, with a CD of music by Rita Strohl, with many other women in the pipeline, including the British composers Liza Lehmann, Alice Mary Smith and Adela Maddison.

The record label forms one part of the ‘Elles – Women Composers’ project – devised by Luzzati – which began with the creation of the ‘Un Temps pour Elles’ music Festival in France and was soon followed by the YouTube channel ‘La Boîte à Pépites’ which today contains more than 60 videos from animated documentaries to a video advent calendar. The aim behind it all, according to Luzzati, is ' to exhume pieces that seemed worthy of a good position in the standard musical repertoire' – many of which have never been recorded or have been lost over time.

The music of Sohy is the perfect example. Born in France in 1887, Sohy was encouraged in her artistic studies by her father. A student of the greatest musicians of her time, such as Louis Vierne or Vincent d’Indy, she was a friend of many brilliant women musicians including Nadia Boulanger. In 1909, she married Marcel Labey, another composer, with whom she had seven children; her wealthy household allowed her to fulfil her vocation as a composer alongside her duties as a mother. She sometimes signed her compositions with the name of her grandfather, Charles Sohy, writing lyrical dramas, chamber music and symphonic music: almost none of her thirty-five works have ever been published. An animated YouTube video tells the story of her life.

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'By having the pieces recorded by a plethora of different artists,' says Luzzati, 'my hope is to shift the emphasis of the CDs from the players to the composer, and to help her works to, little by little, come to their proper place in the history of classical music.'

Authors

Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.

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