WFIU’s featured contemporary composer for March is Libby Larsen.
Libby Larsen began her studies in music at the University of Minnesota receiving her undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees there. For her doctoral dissertation, she composed a one-act opera Words Upon the Windowpane based on a play of the same name by W. B. Yeats. She co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum with composer Stephen Paulus, later renamed the American Composers Forum, which has proved an invaluable tool for composers across the country practicing in many different genres.
Larsen’s compositions include works for voice, chamber ensemble, and orchestra. As the artist-in-residence at the Minnesota Orchestra, she composed Symphony No 1: Water Music and Ghosts of an Old Ceremony, a work for orchestra, ten dancers, and video. She has also held this position with the Charlotte and Colorado Symphonies. Many of her vocal works deal with female subjects including pioneering women from early America, to Virginia Woolf, to the six wives of Henry VIII. She received a Grammy Award for her production work on the album The Art of Arleen Auger which featured her song cycle Sonnets from the Portuguese.
“Clear and accessible” and “musically current” are terms that have been used to describe Larsen’s music. Fanfare magazine says “her ability to write memorable new music completely within the confines of traditional harmonic language is most impressive” while USA Today called her “the only English-speaking composer since Benjamin Britten who matches great verse with fine music so intelligently and expressively.”
WFIU will feature music composed by Libby Larsen throughout the month of March.