MAESTRA MUSIC, INC. was founded by composer/lyricist and music director Georgia Stitt to give support, visibility, and community to the women and nonbinary people who make the music in the musical theater industry. Our membership is made up of composers, music directors, orchestrators, arrangers, copyists, rehearsal pianists and other musicians who are an underrepresented minority in musical theater. The organization’s initiatives include monthly educational seminars, mentorship programs, technical skills workshops, networking events, and online resources and partnerships that aim to promote equality of opportunity and to address the many historical disadvantages and practices that have limited women and nonbinary composers and musicians in the musical theater.
Maestra Music began in early 2017 as a series of informal gatherings hosted by Composer/Lyricist and Music Director Georgia Stitt. Georgia worked as the Music Director of the Off-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity (directed by Leigh Silverman, orchestrated by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, starring Sutton Foster), and the difficulty that team had finding and hiring an all-female band illuminated a problem: women musicians seemed to be invisible.
The informal gatherings grew larger each month and turned into organized meetings with invited guest speakers. The group chose the name “Maestra” as the feminine counterpart to the traditional “Maestro,” which refers to an eminent composer, conductor, or teacher of music. Georgia hired a web designer to turn her crowd-sourced spreadsheet of women composers and pit musicians into an online directory, and musicians began to sign themselves up. Maestra was filling a great need in the theater community, linking together musical women and shining a spotlight in their direction to empower them collectively and individually. Maestra was formally incorporated and received 501(c)3 status in January 2019.
In March of 2020, when a global pandemic shut down the entire business of producing theater, Maestra pivoted. Not only did the organization survive that very difficult year, but it grew, linking its members and supporters in online workshops and conversations, building communities and sharing resources. Through the website and social media channels, Maestra has created an international network of over 1500 women and nonbinary musicians whose presence and collective power has the potential to change the industry.
In the summer of 2021 the musicians union in NYC surveyed their membership and learned that only 29% of its total membership is female. Within that, the number of female-identifying musicians who work specifically on Broadway is 22%. Additional statistics from our industry include the fact that three out of four Broadway orchestras are entirely male. Only 8% of new Broadway scores in the last ten years were composed by women, and only 4% of the orchestrator jobs on Broadway were held by women. In the last eight years, out of 98 available Broadway drum chairs, only two went to women.
There is still much work to do.
Our Origin Story
MAESTRA exists to give support, visibility, and community to the women and nonbinary people who make the music in the musical theater industry. It’s time for them to be heard. Read about how it all began.