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WFIU’s June Featured Contemporary Composer: Jennifer Higdon

WFIU features Jennifer Higdon as June's Artist of the Month.


Photo: Candace DiCarlo

Jennifer Higdon in the studio with her cat Beau.

WFIU’s featured contemporary composer for June is Jennifer Higdon.

Grammy Award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon started out as a flute major at Bowling Green University. Prior to this she had had no formal musical training, but she has more than made up for that. She received a master’s and doctorate in composition from the University of Pennsylvania and an Artist’s Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music where she now holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in compositional studies. One of her first teachers, Robert Spano, was early in championing her music.

Some describe her music and Neoromantic in that it keeps a sense of tonality although some atonality can appear. She frequently uses octotonic scales instead of the traditional seven-pitch scales of classical music, and her music keeps a free form. One of her most famous works blue cathedral has enjoyed over 200 performances with prominent orchestras despite its recent completion in 2000. She recently completed a violin concerto for Hilary Hahn commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony, Toronto Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the Curtis Institute Symphony Orchestra. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic performed this piece in their 2008-2009 season. Her Percussion Concerto won her the 2010 Grammy for Best Classical Composition.

Higdon has served as the Composer-in-Residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (2005-2006), the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra (2006-2007), and the Philadelphia Orchestra (2007-2008). She has also been the featured composer at festivals such as Tanglewood, Vail, Norfolk, Winnipeg and Cabrillo. In addition to working with these groups, she receives many commissions from prominent orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the National Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the Dallas Symphony. She has recorded her blue cathedral with the Atlanta Symphony, her Percussion Concerto with the London Philharmonic and Colin Currie as the soloist, and various flute and chamber work with the Ancia Saxophone Quartet.

WFIU will feature music composed by Jennifer Higdon throughout the month of June.

Anna Pranger

Anna Pranger moved to Bloomington in 2009 to pursue a degree in music librarianship. Before this, she worked on a degree in music history at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio. She serves as both an assistant producer for Harmonia and the Music Library Assistant for WFIU.

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