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The first concert in the Bucknell Orchestra’s Semester of Social Justice series celebrated International Women’s Day with a selection of pieces by female composers.

Founded in 1889 by Professor Jean Aviragnet, the orchestra is the oldest continuous music organization on campus.

Christopher Para, conductor of the Bucknell Orchestra, swapped his baton for a toothbrush to direct a performance of English composer and activist Ethel Smyth's "The March of the Women." Smyth used a toothbrush to lead a performance of the song, a women's suffrage anthem, while she and other suffragists were jailed in England's Holloway Prison.

The orchestra was joined onstage by female members of the Bucknell Concert Chorale and Camerata during "The March of the Women."

While many women play instruments, female composers are rare even today, Para says.

The Bucknell Orchestra comprises Bucknell students and faculty from a range of academic departments, supplemented by professional musicians from the surrounding community.


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