Lesbian Dame honoured at Manchester Pride’s classical music events

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Suffragette activist and “establishment lesbian” Dame Ethel Smyth is to be honoured as part of Manchester Pride’s first classical music series.

A series of chamber music concerts will be held at BBC Manchester to celebrate the spirit of equality.

To mark the 150th anniversary of her birth, thet will feature works by Dame Ethel.

Performances from tenor John Mark Ainsley, guitarist Ed Billingham, the Symposia string quartet and students from Royal Northern College of Music will also take place.

The pieces performed are based on the theme of music as a form of protest and have been written largely by gay and lesbian composers.

Dame Ethel was one of the most celebrated composers of her time.

She wrote the anthem for the suffragette movement, March of the Women, and completed six operas before her death in 1944.

Her second opera, Der Wald, made history by being the first female-composed opera to be preformed at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

Devoted to the suffragette cause, she spent two months in Holloway prison after smashing the office windows of a Cabinet Minister during a votes for women march.

During her imprisonment she was seen conducting the prison’s makeshift suffragette choir, who were exercising in the yard below her cell, by hanging from her window using her toothbrush to keep time.

She fell in love with Virginia Woolf, which Mrs Woolf described as “like being caught be a giant crab.”

The two enjoyed a friendship until Woolf’s suicide, in 1941. Date Ethel died three years later.

The concerts will take place at 1pm every day from August 18 to 22 and are part of the Manchester Pride celebrations.

The main event is the big weekend, 22 to 25 August, a 72 hour celebration of the LGBT community.

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