English pianist and composer Elaine Hugh-Jones once asked famed conductor Sir Thomas Beecham why he didn't play her music. "You're a woman," he said, "and there are no women composers."
Betty Scott, board member of Baltimore's Women Composers Orchestra, recalls Hugh-Jones telling that story when the orchestra played one of her works here. Scott's addendum is that the International Encyclopedia of Women Composers lists 6,000 composing women worldwide.
The chance to show off musical works by women is the purpose of the 11-member chamber music group, presenting its first non-school concert this season at 8 p.m. Saturday at Shriver Hall on the Johns Hopkins University campus.
Antonia Joy Wilson, one of 40 American orchestra conductors who are women, leads the orchestra of Baltimore area women and men playing six women's works in different combinations. Tickets are $9 and $5. Call 448-2650.
The program is Anna Amalia's Divertimento; Judith Lang Zaimont's Psalm 23; Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel's Trio in D Minor (the longest piece at 25 minutes); Maria Theresia Von Paradis' Sicilienne; Zaimont's Woman of Valor; Julia Amanda Perry's Pastoral and Netty Simon's Set of Poems sung by mezzo Allison Charney. Simon, Zaimont and the late Perry are 20th Century Americans. The others are 18th and 19th Century Europeans.
Friday the group plays the program at Catonsville Senior High and at the West Baltimore Middle School. Other concerts are March 3 at Gettysburg College, April 27 at Frederick Community College and April 28 at LeClerc Hall, the College of Notre Dame.
Composers whose works are played in the Notre Dame concert will be Amy Cheney Beach, Charis Duke, Alice Parker, Louise Farrenc and Miriam Gideon. Milly Tyssowski is president of the board. Wilson, of Morristown, N.J., starting her second season here, is also music director of the Livingston Symphony Orchestra and former orchestra director in Johnson City, Tenn.
Members this year are flutist Nancy Stagnitta, pianist Mark Markham, clarinetist Daniel Silver, violinists Teri Lazar and Lorraine Combs; cellists Lisa Pribanic and Daniel Shumway, violists Jennifer Rende and Alice Young, bassoonist Carolyn Fedderly and oboist Vladimir Lans.
Coincidentally, a friend of Wilson, Baltimore's Anne Harrigan, leads her Baltimore Chamber Orchestra in its third concert of the season at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College. Violist Noah Chaves plays Handel's Viola Concerto in B Minor.