Our Mission

What does

5th wave mean?

5th Wave Collective is a Chicago-based classical music ensemble dedicated to the performance and promotion of music by womxn and gender-nonconforming composers. We seek to celebrate their legacy, and to create a platform for those to come.

Historians have said that feminism has progressed in waves dating back to the Women’s Suffrage Movement at the start of the 20th century. The push for equal voting rights is considered the first wave of feminism from 1848-1920. The second wave (1963-1980) focused on reducing inequalities in the workplace, normalizing sexuality, and expanding reproductive rights. From 1991 to the mid-21st century, the third wave focused on embracing individual diversity and acknowledging the intersectional nature of the movement. With recent political advances, and a global understanding of feminism, the fourth wave is underway. We seek to build upon this rich tradition, continuing to support and celebrate womxn artists and composers of all walks of life.


To learn more about the complicated nature of classifying the movement into waves, read here.


The composers whose works we perform each have their own story of oppression, passion and survival; we want to give them a voice. They have been systematically silenced for decades, and it is our mission to bring their stories to the fore.

Why "womxn"?

Following the example of many fourth wave feminist organizations, we have begun using "womxn"  to acknowledge and welcome all women-identified individuals, regardless of assigned sex at birth. "During the 1970s, some women’s organizations sought to create a linguistic marker of women’s independence from men by changing the spelling to womyn. They insisted, however, upon a biologically essentialist understanding of femininity and refused to acknowledge transwomen as “real” women."* 


The "x" in "womxn" reflects the 5th Wave Collective's commitment to including all who are affected by gender discrimination. We acknowledge that this word is not completely inclusive of all non-male people, and we are continuing to make our language and our programming practices more inclusive of trans and gender non-conforming people.

*Sources: University of North Carolina Womxn of Worth and The New York Times: "What Do Womxn Want?"