On a May day in 2008, Karin Rehnqvist lay on the sofa at home in the Nacka villa and read the Swedish orchestras’ season program for 2008–2009. And became more and more distressed. Where were the works of the female composers?

She counted. On Swedish concert stages, only 1.2% were performed with music by female composers from then and now. In other words: the Swedish orchestras regarded female composers as non-existent, almost unplayable. However, there were plenty of composer names such as Beethoven, Mahler, Brahms on the orchestra’s music stands.

KVAST is created

At the end of the summer of 2008, she gathered a large number of her female composer colleagues. The result: it was decided to start the network Kvinnlig Anhopning av Svenska Tonsättare, KVAST (The Swedish Association of Women Composers). At the beginning of 2009, it became an association, which had a great impact both among the concert halls and in the media.

The rest is Swedish music history. Women’s music was discovered and played more and more often. A dozen years later, it is almost a rule that female composers are represented in concert programs.

Be positive

At a ceremony on March 22 in the Royal College of Music, Stockholm the association KVAST was able to award the association’s finest award, Guldkvasten (The Gold Broom), to the initiator Karin Rehnqvist.

Karin Rehnqvist responded in her speech of thanks with a quote she carries with her: “If possible, be positive”.

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