April 19, 2005 |
Now that Grammy-nominated Philadelphia composer Jennifer Higdon is entering the classical mainstream with a sizable output of music written over the last 20 years, labelmakers must figure out what to call her. A neo-Coplandist - a reference to her musical language based on Aaron Copland's? Or a neo-impressionist - since she is often inspired by nature, color, and other visual elements? On the basis of two concerts this weekend featuring major Higdon works - a world premiere by the Brooklyn Philharmonic on Saturday and a chamber music retrospective at the Curtis Institute of Music on Sunday - I'd create a new word: ecstasist.
June 8, 2010 |
ATLANTA - Philadelphia composer Jennifer Higdon has perhaps never cast her net so wide. Always a seeker of extra-symphonic sounds, in the past she's trawled the aisles of Home Depot for trinkets that would give her orchestration an ethereal jingle. But for On a Wire , her new concerto premiered and recorded last week by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, she frequented sporting-goods stores for fishing line to rub across the strings of a piano, experimenting at length in her Spruce Street studio.
February 28, 2015 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra has a rather plastic idea of the concert format these days. On Wednesday night, that meant a hybrid of the talk-and-play concerts it has done under various names over the last two decades, plus offering the LiveNote app that allows the audience to follow real-time program notes on mobile devices. The start time was earlier than usual (6:30 p.m.), and tickets a flat $45 for an intermission-less concert of about 75 minutes. It would be hard to say the format struck a chord with ticket buyers, given the audience in the low hundreds that turned out in Verizon Hall.
April 24, 2012 |
If the Curtis Institute is about achieving greatness in various forms, an essential part of that would have to be experiencing the pitfalls that are everywhere in the symphonic repertoire. Nothing dire happened when the Curtis Symphony Orchestra played Jennifer Higdon, Brahms, and Bartok under Robert Spano Monday at the Kimmel Center; the showcase element of the concert was delivered with swaggering confidence. But that doesn't mean any given masterpiece's DNA was located. The Bartok Concerto for Orchestra was most distinctive: Rather than running the movements together as so many conductors do, Spano treated them as discrete entities in ways that reminded you of the music's strangeness, how movements start in mid-thought and end in ways suggesting that there's plenty left to say. Spano pursued a great variety of string sounds.
March 15, 1994 |
Although taking the first steps is difficult in every profession, launching a career in composition is a mysterious process made up of talent, hope, connections, phone calls and coincidence. So tomorrow, when the Windham String Quartet premieres a commissioned piece called Voices, it will be a little like winning the lottery for Mount Airy resident Jennifer Higdon. Higdon, 32, settled here after earning a doctorate in composition at the University of Pennsylvania. The commissioning program that chose her is sponsored by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and supports local composers.
June 13, 2002 |
No longer will Jennifer Higdon be just another promising Philadelphia composer. Last night, her first major orchestral work was premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra - talk about starting at the top - with the kind of success many classical composers don't experience until after they're dead. The title is generic: Concerto for Orchestra. The content is anything but. For a composer, it's a once-a-decade experience, particularly in Philadelphia, whose orchestra enjoyed fruitful relationships with symphonists such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Dmitri Shostakovich but hasn't been a sympathetic place for modernists breaking sound barriers.
September 20, 2009 |
"Gutsy writing . . . inventive use of color . . . unusual instruments . . . still pretty unique. " Those musical descriptions from Philadelphia composer Jennifer Higdon suggest a critique of Berlioz, Debussy, or some other classical composer with Mount Rushmore status. But no - she was listening to the latest super-digitized incarnation of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, an early, crucial musical influence and one that explains much about the music she composes for America's great symphony orchestras.
February 6, 2005 |
Though the Grammy Awards are still seven days away, Jennifer Higdon has already won far more than she expected from her four nominations. The Philadelphia-based composer, whose Concerto for Orchestra is cited for best classical composition, on a disc of her works that is also nominated for best classical album, has watched her recognition level zoom since the nominations were announced. Still a relatively new face among nationally known American composers, Higdon, 41, had 60 completed works when her Concerto for Orchestra was premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Wolfgang Sawallisch in June 2002 and was a hit from the beginning.
March 10, 2015 |
WASHINGTON - Derogatory jokes about the viola are probably waiting to be made over the fact that Jennifer Higdon's concerto for that instrument sat for five years on a waiting list before arriving at its premiere Saturday at the Library of Congress. In truth, the Philadelphia composer was keen to give the ordinarily brooding instrument a levity other viola concertos lack, but first she had to finish her opera Cold Mountain . The concerto, written for violist and Curtis Institute president Roberto Diaz and the Curtis Chamber Orchestra, is ultimately concerned with getting down to essentials, yielding distinctive, under-the-surface strength.
October 23, 2006 |
With composers as prolific as Philadelphia-based Jennifer Higdon, even the best will sometimes toss off chamber works that boast of little more than a deadline met and an audience reasonably charmed. But all that I've heard from Higdon is the antithesis of disposability. Her new violin sonata, String Poetic, commissioned by the Kimmel Center and premiered on Saturday by Jennifer Koh, means to be absorbing for performers; desirable for audiences who think anything contemporary is abrasive; and useful, with most of the five movements so self-contained they can be played out of context, whether for encores or curtain raisers.