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La Donna Musicale, formed in 1993, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the research and historical performance of Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Contemporary music by women composers. The group presented three concerts in its inaugural year, using scores discovered through the research of its director, Laury Gutiérrez. Sponsored by Indiana University, the performances took place in Bloomington, Indiana during Women’s History Month. The enthusiastic reception of those events prompted additional research and performances. Professional musicians and music producers in Bloomington and Boston encouraged the participation of the ensemble as a concurrent event during the 1993 Boston Early Music Festival. Its success attracted more performers to the group and led to the establishment of a Boston-based ensemble.
Since its inception, the researchers and performers of La Donna Musicale have studied more than 17 women composers, performed 150 pieces in over 80 concerts, and gathered over 1,000 works. The ensemble has premiered the works of the Milanese nun Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, the Venetian courtesan Barbara Strozzi, and the mysterious Antonia Bembo. Other composers include Julie Pinel, Bianca Maria Meda, Caterina Assandra, Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, and Madalena Casulana. The CD, Anna Bon: La virtuosa di Venezia, was the 2011 winner of the Arts and Media Award from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women.