In light of news that Broadway won’t resume at least until June 7, “Un-Block The Music” will not hold back any of the interviews I have already done. And, I hope to reach more people through the next month. If the only way we can connect is through blogs and social media, so be it for now! Recently, I had the great fortune to connect with Maestra. Started in 2017 by composer/lyrics and music director Georgia Stitt, this organization is an amazing resource for any female-identifying woman in musical theater, and I expect it will be a great help for “Un-Block The Music” as I start “Women Wednesdays.”
If you want to read a bio about the powerhouse that is Georgia Stitt, go to https://georgiastitt.com/bio/. However, a few of her projects that “Un-Block The Music” truly loves include: The Last Five Years with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, Sweet Charity with Sutton Foster and Can-Can with Patti LuPone. Georgia, of course, has created her own musicals as well including; Snow Child, Big Red Sun, and Mosaic.
In between it all, Georgia realized how difficult it was for amazing women to find each other and support each other. So, she made a list of all the female composers she knew in New York. She mentioned her list to Kara Unterberg founder of The New York SongSpace. Georgia told Kara she wanted to throw a party for all of the composers on her list. SongSpace hosted it, and Georgia’s community started from there.
Maestra’s Assistant Jamie Maletz (who is a creator herself) gave me a rundown of Maestra’s membership and offerings. The best part is, membership is free if you are part of or want to be part of the musical theater community. “We have a directory; one e of the most useful tools. It offers a very customizable search where you can find any type of musicians you need. For instance, you can look for a pit musician or a collaborator or a music director. The director is searchable by region, instrument, whatever. It is very specific. Best of all you you don’t have to be a Maestra member to look at the website or use the directory.”
Additionally, aside from the customizable searches, Maestra’s website and blog are a library of sorts. “We put up articles that help you to learn more about women composers, past and present. One of the most popular sections on the site is ‘Women Who Wow.’” Jamie interviews women doing amazing work in theater.
“We also have a timeline of women composers throughout history on Broadway. While fascinating to look at, it sadly shows a gap of 40 years where there was nothing to record in relation to women on Broadway,” said Jamie. Luckily that has changed and she says they are hoping to expand this section to include women creators off-Broadway as well.
No doubt, Georgia is a musical force who did not miss a beat when Broadway shut down due to Coronavirus in March. Maestra usually holds in-person workshops for members to build on their skills. Since there is social distancing, Maestra is now offering virtual technical workshops online every week.
“We talked to some of our membership and got this incredible lineup of classes that membership will teach through April and May over Zoom. The free classes will be every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m.,” according to Jamie. “They are open to everyone. This is our way of keeping our community up and opening up to the world during this crazy shutdown.”
Emily Grishman — MUSIC PREP: NAVIGATING SHORTCUTS IN FINALE
Carmel Dean — VOCAL ARRANGING FOR THEATER ENSEMBLES
Rona Siddiqui— WRITING CHARACTER JOURNEY THROUGH SONG
Mary-Mitchell Campbell— SELF-EDUCATING AND SKILL-BUILDING FROM HOME
Kristy Norter — CRASH COURSE IN EFFECTIVE SUBBING ON BROADWAY
Lynne Shankel — ORCHESTRATION: WRITING COLOR AND TEXTURE
Julianne B. Merrill — MAINSTAGE 1 & 2
Lisa Tamagini — VOCAL TECHNIQUE FOR MUSIC DIRECTORS AND COACHES
Georgia Stitt— MAKING AND READING LEAD SHEETS AND RHYTHM CHARTS
Marcy Heisler — CREATIVE BLOCKBUSTING EXERCISES IN LYRIC WRITING
Masi Asare — CREATING A GREAT ARTIST STATEMENT FOR GRANT APPLICATIONS
Click here to register:
Jamie also encourages everyone to go to Maestra’s YouTube page for a taste of member artists. A page was also specifically created for Quarantine Content by Maestra Members. We all need inspiration….”Un-Block The Music” encourages you to go there too:
Keep in mind that Maestra is a non-profit organization. A fundraiser was schedule for March, but had to be postponed because of the quarantine. While the organization has a lot of education and mentoring goals ahead, everyone is on pause, but in the meantime go to https://maestramusic.org/ for more information to join or to donate. There are regional Facebook Pages as well that you can easily join.
Then, you may also want to check out Jamie’s page at http://www.jamiemaletzmusicals.com/.
Whew!!! So much talent to talk about, and “Un-Block The Music” is going to jump on it. “Theater people are notoriously scrappy,” says Jamie, and there is no doubt Broadway and its women will come back stronger than ever.