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The Sound of Suffrage: ‘City of Women’ Celebrates Through Song

A new composition to honour women's achievements....

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Historian, Victoria Horwell, and acclaimed audio composer, Iain Chambers, launch ‘City of Women’, a new composition celebrating the achievements of women across the centuries.

Performances of the work will take place at Leadenhall Market during Open House Weekend on 22 and 23 September.

The Sound of Suffrage: ‘City of Women’ Celebrates Through SongBeibei

The free performances form part of the City of London Corporation’s ‘Women: Work and Power’, a season of 70 events across the City to celebrate ground-breaking achievements of women.

Using songs, sounds and the words of women from history to modern times, the new composition pays tribute to those involved in the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality.

Exploring women’s freedom of thought and religion, their right to work, to be financially and socially independent, and to vote and participate in public life, the performances will celebrate the suffragettes, famous female campaigners, and lesser-known women in the city who have defied expectations. From the 17th-century cross-dressing pickpocket, Moll Cutpurse, and the 18th-century lace-making millionairess, Hester Pinney, to present day figures such as former BBC China Editor, Carrie Gracie, ‘City of Women’ uses verbatim texts and music to tell these remarkable stories of women in their own words. 

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Alongside the choir of the City of London School for Girls, soloists will perform five new anthems featuring excerpts from Emmeline Pankhurst’s 1913 speech ‘Freedom or Death’, campaigner Cicely Hamilton’s suffragette anthem ‘The March of the Women’ and poetry by Elizabeth Barratt Browning.

Interspersed between the performances, recorded soundscapes will showcase the inspiring work of the City’s women throughout history – from physical and domestic tasks to key roles in the communications industry and on the trading floor. Semi-dramatised texts and recordings from women as diverse as fishwife Poll Dab to Janet Hogarth Courtney, the superintendent of women’s clerks at the Bank of England and feminist philosopher Mary Wollstoncroft, give the audience the opportunity to consider their experiences.

The venue, Leadenhall Market, was established in the 14th century for the sale of game and poultry and is significant because it was one of the first places in London where women were able to work.

Free performances of ‘City of Women’ will be performed at Leadenhall Market, Gracechurch St, EC3V 1LT on 22 & 23 September between 11am – 2.30pm (performances on the hour).