By ASHLEY GREY
When translated, Femme Fatale means “the Lethal or Dangerous Woman.” The directors of this new campus music ensemble, Jordan Pescrillo ’12 and Michael Farley of the music department, thought this would be the best name for this spring’s Rhythm and Blues Ensemble, which seeks to commemorate female musicians.
“So many times we stereotype female music, labeling it as “hard rock” or “sweet pop,” Pescrillo said. “Femme Fatale exceeds the sweet and the bitchy by neutralizing female music and representing all types of musical styles.” The ensemble will be playing songs from a wide variety of female artists from the 1950s to the present-day, including Regina Spektor, Feist, Jefferson Airplane, Imogen Heap, and many more artists. From upbeat to mellow and folk to modern, Femme Fatale represents a wide discipline of musical tastes.
The Ensemble consists of fourteen students and staff members that share an interest for female music. Yet beyond this similarity, the musicians are all quite different. The wide range of ages represented, diverse musical tastes and backgrounds, and varying levels of musical experience demonstrate that Femme Fatale is far from homogenous.
Pescrillo acknowledges these differences, yet she knows that their shared vision for the ensemble transcends these disparities. “Practices can be difficult, especially when each musician’s interpretation of a piece differs,” she said. “But we always find a way to settle these musical differences and accomplish our goal: play to the inspired musician.” Pescrillo emphasized that while there have been stumbling blocks, there have also been great achievements. “Anytime a song comes together after an hour-and-a-half of practicing, I remember that all the hard work and time invested is worth it,” she said.
Pescrillo not only commended the group on their ability to consistently uphold their goal and move forward, but she also highlighted the comfort, informality, and collaborative nature of the Ensemble. “I love to sing, but I never felt comfortable enough to sing in any ensemble within the past four years,” she said. “This is the first time in a while that I am taking up the mic and doing what I love.”
Likewise, many other members of Femme Fatale share Pescrillo’s sentiments. The informal environment, which is characterized by learning from YouTube videos instead of professors, also contributes to the relaxed atmosphere. Members work together, watching videos and providing constructive criticism for each other. One of the best characteristics of this ensemble seems to be the emphasis on the group. “I don’t see myself as the leader of the group; neither does Michael Farley,” Pescrillo said. “No one outshines any other person. Truly, we are all equal.”
Femme Fatale’s performance, filled with guest musicians, crazy costumes, and wild makeup, will be held on April 19 in The Underground. So, mark your calendars for a night of commemorating the female artists, known and unknown, who have deeply influenced American music.