Jennifer Higdon

Now Is the Time
12:40 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Less Than a Week Before Christmas

from Nativity, Domenico Ghirlandaio, c.1480

We're counting down the days on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 20th at 9 pm. Less Than a Week Before Christmas is David Golub's work for chorus and orchestra: about the cold, about a friend. Morten Lauridsen contemplates the wonder of animals at the nativity manger in one of our time's most-sung pieces, O Magnum Mysterium.

Composer Jennifer Higdon becomes her own poet for Deep in the Night, pondering "this season of love with full brilliant lights." Daron Hagen combines two melodies we recognize with a beautiful one we don't—because he just wrote it—in a work for choir with cello, At Bethlehem Proper. Rounding out the choral works on the program is While All Things Were in Quiet Silence by Ned Rorem.

Two instrumental works find their way in, though. Advent has the same feeling that imbues Yearning, the lovely work for violin and strings by Shulamit Ran, dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin. For solo guitar is the suite of Rick Sowash, helping us count down the days, For an Old Friend at Christmas.

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WRTI Picks from NPR Music
7:17 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Great Expectations: A New Season Of New Music

Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain receives its world premiere at Santa Fe Opera in the coming season.
Ken Howard Santa Fe Opera

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 7:57 pm

Musicologist and pianist Charles Rosen once quipped: "The death of classical music is perhaps its oldest continuing tradition." But it's tough to see much gloom when faced with the diversity of premieres and provocative programming around the country in the 2014-2015 season.

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Now Is the Time
12:52 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

A Summer's Day

Claude Monet: Rouen Cathedral, Facade (Sunset)

Celebrate the solstice on Now Is the Time, Saturday, June 21st at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Into Light is Marilyn Shrude's orchestral paean to youth and possibility, and Lewis Spratlan outlines an entire day of activity—both fun and contemplative—ending with a starry night, in A Summer's Day. Looking at the evening sky reflected in Italy's Lake Como, Laura Elise Schwendinger asks C’è la Luna Questa Sera? ("is there a moon tonight?").

As Monet painted the same scene in different light (including his Rouen Cathedral series from 1892-1893), Jennifer Higdon used materials from her blue cathedral in different ways in Light Refracted for clarinet, string trio, and piano. One of Brian Dykstra's piano rags is the deliciously floating Sweet Daydreams, and in light moving, David Lang provides an encore for Hilary Hahn.

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Now Is the Time
10:23 am
Fri March 28, 2014

An Exaltation of Larks

Let the larks play! They sing us into spring on Now Is the Time, Saturday, March 29th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Jennifer Higdon considered "exaltation" not only to be a wonderful collective noun but also a pretty good title, so she wrote the romantic and soaring An Exaltation of Larks for string quartet. We get to hear, appropriately, the Lark Quartet in this recording.

Daniel Goode loves birds, too, and weaves examples of different thrushes into one mega-birdsong for an unusual orchestra in Tuba Thrush. Benjamin Beirs describes circles, whorls, and storms in Fluidity. It's for his instrument, the guitar, and is inspired by the paintings of Sunny Gibbons, who is his sister. Book-ending the program are two works—one for marimba, one for vibraphone—by Alvin Singleton. He titles them Argoru, which is the Ghanaian word meaning "to play."

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Creatively Speaking
3:45 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

A Philadelphia Favorite: Composer Jennifer Higdon

Composer Jennifer Higdon with Beau.

Philadelphia’s Jennifer Higdon is among the most-frequently performed living American composers. Her works have been performed around the world and recorded on dozens of CDs. Higdon received a Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2010 for her Violin Concerto, a composition written for violinist Hilary Hahn and first performed by Hahn and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in 2009. 

The prolific Higdon is in the process of adding an opera to her extensive repertoire. The joint commission of The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia is based on Charles Frazier’s Civil War novel Cold Mountain. It's scheduled to open in Santa Fe in 2015, followed by an East Coast premiere at the Academy of Music in February 2016. 

Creatively Speaking
8:48 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

All About Jennifer Higdon: A Classical Composer For Philadelphia And Beyond

Composer Jennifer Higdon with Beau.

This month, WRTI is showcasing the works of various women composers. WRTI's Meridee Duddleston looks at a Philadelphia favorite: Jennifer Higdon.

Philadelphia’s Jennifer Higdon is among the most frequently performed living American composers. Now 50, the successful, unpretentious, and endlessly creative Higdon is adding an opera to her extensive repertoire. It’s a joint commission of The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia based on Charles Frazier’s Civil War novel Cold Mountain. Higdon’s family moved from Atlanta to east Tennessee when she was an adolescent– about 40 miles, she says, as the crow flies from Cold Mountain. That geographic proximity fueled her insight into the characters she’s recasting in operatic form.

Higdon’s partner, Cheryl Lawson, runs Lawdon Press, the company that publishes and distributes Higdon’s works.  Among her most-performed compositions is blue cathedral, a tone poem she wrote after the death, from cancer, of her brother Andrew Blue Higdon. Her works have been recorded on dozens of CDs and performed around the world.  


WRTI Picks from NPR Music
11:49 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Symphonic Resolutions: What's On Your Classical Music Wish List?

Tell us your hopes for classical music in 2013.
Lalito iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 9:13 am

Are you the type to make New Year's resolutions? They're easy to make, but tough to keep — at least when it comes to your own. So how about brainstorming a few resolutions that are a little less personal?

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