Superwomen of Science

Superwomen of Science Front

“In this virtuoso solo performance, Frances Lynch convincingly assumes the identities of different leading female scientists. The music is stunning and sophisticated, the ideas are challenging – and the dark humour underlines how heavily the odds are stacked against women who should be at the top of their profession”

Patricia Fara

President of the British Society for the History of Science

On first commissioning these works from a range of exciting composers I had no idea who they want to write about or where indeed their work might emerge into the light – yet here we are at the Edinburgh Fringe  in the back room of the gorgeous Italian Deli – Valvona & Crolla, Venue 67, 19 Elm Row, Edinburgh, EH7 4AA  – singing about these women whose lives have impacted on our own in so many ways.

Lynne Plowman found herself entranced by the poetic nature of Scottish science writer Mary Somerville and by her enthusiasm and breadth of knowledge about her subject.

 Cheryl Frances-Hoad enjoyed the letters of our first computer programmer and daughter of Lord Byron,  Ada Lovelace who wrote to her partner in calculating machines – Charles Babbage – in often wild and uncompromising terms.

Kate Whitley introduces us to the physicist Jocelyn Bell-Burnell and her thoughts on women in science.

 Shirley J Thompson found something that most women scientists in the audience have recognised – a lecture given by a very unassuming  Anne McLaren on human eggs, which portrays what many women in her position experience – impostor syndrome – when asked to speak on a subject they don’t feel 100% prepared for.  Eva Crane bee vale

Karen Wimhurst found herself among the bees with  Eva Crane  whose work established a global engine for research.

How could I resist writing myself about Scottish astronomer Williamina Fleming given the opportunity to  use a wonderful folk tune “The piper O Dundee” Williamina broom

 

 

and the singer/astronomer  Caroline Herschel who, like me, sang the contemporary music of her day – but unlike me went on to discover comets, nebulae and chart the stars for future astronomers.

It is an important message that women have contributed to science over the centuries – which is why the programme starts with the music of Hildegard von Bingen who was of course both scientist and artist which is the 2nd most important message in the programme – when science and arts work together new beginnings are possible.

Last night at The Sick of the Fringe  this question of dialogue between groups was driven home in a thought provoking and optomistic speech by Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust and by Brian Lobel who is clearly working hard to create a platform for many who are currently struggling in society – brought poignantly to life by a monologue from an anonymous writer whose absence from the event itself made their presence most striking.

I for one will be seeking out more of these people….

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