Konstmusiksystrar (Sisters in Contemporary Music) was founded in 2014 by Lo Kristenson and Marta Forsberg, who were composition students at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, as a network of composers and sound artists who define themselves as women, transgender or non-binary people.
Photo: Nike Bergman
Photo: Nike Bergman
The initiative was triggered by the low representation of female composers at UNM (Young Nordic Music Festival) 2014 - a festival for composers under thirty years of age with a connection to the Nordic region. Astounded that only six out of thirty-five participating composers in the festival were women, Lo and Marta confronted the festival’s production team who gave them the answer “There are no women composers applying.” Later on at the festival, there was an open discussion during a panel on feminism where an audience member stood up and said that he did not understand why feminism needed to be discussed and that it wasn’t a problem in the new music scene. A woman sitting in the panel responded, “Look around this room, of course there is a problem with equality in our scene!”. Only a few other participants joined in opposing him. The rest maintained quiet.

In reaction to this incident, Lo and Marta started an emailchain with the purpose of listing the names of young female, transgender, and non-binary composers active within the Swedish contemporary music scene. This was a way to encourage the non-cis-male to engage with contemporary music where the representation was lacking through applying to open calls, festivals, and music programs. Since the network was founded, Konstmusiksystrar has worked to strengthen the confidence of women composers in the beginnings of their careers, encouraging them to present their work and promote themselves. The list (soon published online) would also be distributed to concert and festival organisers, and in this way serve as a resource for anyone struggling to find composers to program.
In 2007 the Swedish Government decided to increase gender equality in Swedish music life aiming towards a 50/50 gender representation. This put pressure on state funded institutions who had to demonstrate that they made efforts to increase the diversity in their programs. In 2009 KVAST (The Swedish Association of Women Composers) was founded on the initiative of composer Karin Rehnquist. The initiative started as a survey mapping the gender division in the programmes of the major musical institutions. The statistical reports that KVAST has produced, often in collaboration with FST (Swedish Composers’ Union), has led to a better representation of gender in programming of concert halls and a greater understanding of the issue for the industry.

Although the representation of gender had increased in contemporary music programming, there were no feminist forums for emerging composersc. As young composers, Marta and Lo felt that they tackled additional questions. They felt that the debate about contemporary music, as well as the scene itself, was segregated, hierarchical and without any sincere desire to work together towards a freer and more innovative community. Marta and Lo decided to form their own initiative that could include the younger and growing underground scene, and through this Konstmusiksystrar grew from an email-chain to an organisation.  
In 2015 Konstmusiksystrar was registered as a non-profit organisation and open to members under thirty years of age. In addition to Marta and Lo, the founding board consisted of Kajsa Magnarsson, Kajsa Lindgren, Kajsa Antonsson and Madeleine Jonsson Gille. In 2017 they were joined by Rosanna Gunnarsson, who became the board’s chairperson in 2018. In 2018 Anna Jakobsson also joined the organisation as a project leader.

The organisation has continued to grow and create projects based on Marta and Lo’s initial thoughts and aspirations. The organisation has become a living foundation run by a collective of composers and artists. The work of Konstmusiksystrar is constantly in motion whether it is creating new projects or exploring new ways of operating its purpose. Originally, Konstmusiksystrar was open to composers 30 years old or younger. In 2017 this rule was removed from the association’s statues in order to avoid discrimination. The board decided to use the more inclusive definition “at the beginning of one’s artistry”. Since then the association has been open to any female, transgender or non-binary composer who is need of a professional context and wants to work collectively to strengten togetherness in the contemporary music field.
In 2019, Anna Jakobsson (organisation leader) and Rosanna Gunnarsson (chairperson) were awarded a two-years residency at artist freelancer hub Transit Kulturinkubator, located at Konstfack (The Conservatory of Visual Arts) in Stockholm. Transit provided them with individual mentoring, regular workshops in organisation development and a workshop in organisational knowledge for the Konstmusiksystrar board. During Anna’s and Rosanna’s residency at Transit, Konstmusiksystrar was granted their first annual funding from the government’s Swedish Gender Equality Agency (Jämställdhetsmyndigheten) in 2021. This became a milestone for the organisation, allowing Konstmusiksystrar to strengthen their overall practices and develop external and internal organisational structures.

The Konstmusiksystrar board:

Chair: Adele Kosman
Treasurer: Suvi Richter
Members: Agnes Kofoed Christianson, Athanasia Kotronia, Ia Erlandsson
Alternates: Vanessa Massera, Cornelia Karlsson

Chair: Adele Kosman
Treasurer: Alva Stern
Members: Athanasia Kotronia, Agnes Kofoed Christianson, Saga Fagerström
Alternate: Vanessa Massera

Chair: Zoe Efstathiou
Treasurer: Alva Stern
Members: Rosanna Gunnarsson, Bodil Hasselgren, Vanessa Massera,Athanasia Kotronia, Agnes Kofoed Christianson, Adele Kosman, Josefin Jalhed, Alva Stern

Chair: Kajsa Lindgren,
Treasurer: Kajsa Antonsson
Members: Marta Forsberg, Kajsa Magnarsson, Madeleine Jonsson Gille, Rosanna Gunnarsson

Chair: Kajsa Lindgren
Treasurer: Kajsa Antonsson
Members: Kajsa Magnarsson, Marta Forsberg, Madeleine Jonsson Gille, Lo Kristenson
Alternates: Isadora del Carmen, Rosanna Gunnarsson

Members: Kajsa Antonsson, Kajsa Magnarsson, Kajsa Lindgren, Lo Kristenson, Madeleine Jonsson Gille, Marta Forsberg

Members: Marta Forsberg, Lo Kristenson, Kajsa Magnarsson, Kajsa Lindgren, Kajsa Antonsson, Madeleine Jonsson Gille, Petra Melin, Klara Stirner, Maria Lindström