‘We wanted to make a mission statement,’ says March4Women composer

8 March 2018, 12:13 | Updated: 9 March 2018, 16:28

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Composer David Arnold has scored music to five James Bond films and ‘Independence Day’. He spoke to us about his choral arrangement of the 1964 classic ballad ‘You Don’t Own Me’ for this year’s March4Women.

Last Sunday, 4 March, CARE International’s March4Women took place in Trafalgar Square ahead of International Women’s Day, ending with some spectacular music.

David Arnold was asked to create an arrangement that was big and powerful enough to be performed to thousands of marchers by none other than electric string quartet Bond and the magnificent Urban Voices choir. So choosing the right song was vital.

“There’s a sense of forward momentum this year that’s far more elevated than it has been for a long time, and we wanted to make a mission statement at the end of the event,” David told Classic FM.

“The opening lines of the chorus said the key message for me: ‘Don’t tell me what to say and don’t tell me what to do’. I think that’s a pretty defiant statement.

“The fact that the song was originally performed by a woman [Lesley Gore] in 1964 makes it all the more remarkable. I know it’s a song that was written by men, but to put yourself out there as woman at that time, with that song, is just fascinating.”

> Read more: The great women composers

Following her fame through ‘You Don’t Own me’, Lesley Gore became an LGBT activist in the 1970s – and the song, alongside her, developed into a political anthem for women and the LGBT community.

But gender equality isn’t just a woman’s issue

“It’s called #March4Women, but it’s not a march for exclusively women,” said David.

“The presence of men and boys at the event is essential, because until there’s a certain amount of awareness achieved, change won’t really happen. We couldn’t do it without boys and men – you’d be preaching to the converted.

“It would be great if at some point in the future International Women’s Day could just be a celebration, but at the moment it is still a plea for equality, representative of the amount of work that is still left to do.”

Find out more about the event and those involved at CARE International UK.