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Jennifer Higdon

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NEWS
April 19, 2005 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
NEWS
June 8, 2010 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 28, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 15, 1994 | By Daniel Webster, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
NEWS
June 13, 2002 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 20, 2009 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
"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.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 6, 2005 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 25, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
Writing for string quartet and voice is a tricky thing, and at the basic level of craft, Jennifer Higdon skillfully avoids the pitfalls in In the Shadow of Sirius . The piece was played Saturday night at the Curtis Institute of Music in the first of this season's three residency recitals by the Aizuri Quartet at the school. Higdon, a Curtis composition professor, has a towering model for the form in "Dover Beach," Samuel Barber's moving 1931 work for the same combination. In fact, Barber's language hovers near.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 16, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The supremacy of the violin and piano repertoire is such that we're taught not to expect much good solo stuff for instruments such as clarinet. Yet a musician of Ricardo Morales' caliber can't just live on the works written when Mozart, Brahms, and Debussy paid momentary attention to the instrument. So almost all of the music played by the Philadelphia Orchestra principal clarinetist and pianist Natalie Zhu Monday at the American Philosophical Society was new to seasoned ears - even to Jennifer Higdon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who heard her 201 2 Clarinet Sonata for the first time.
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ENTERTAINMENT
March 8, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
Many alleluias - at turns complex, simple, strange, sad and always intriguing - were heard from Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia in celebratory commissions, both titled "Alleluia," from two of the city's best-known composers, Jennifer Higdon and Andrea Clearfield. Titled "Eastern Voices," the program smartly contextualized them amid unlikely but revelatory bedfellows: Eastern European composers whose names you can't hope to pronounce. The common denominator devised by artistic director Paul Rardin on Saturday at the Temple University Performing Arts Center was religious works that weren't afraid to unhinge themselves from the formality of hymns, often abruptly and in ways you could never predict.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 27, 2016 | By David Patrick Stearns, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC
Women composers aren't classical-music underdogs in this stretch of the 21st century, at least in Philadelphia. But their road to prominence took on a more personal narrative in Dolce Suono Ensemble's highly curated Women Pioneers of American Music concert on Sunday at the Curtis Institute. The flute-based chamber music repertoire showed the composers not so much out to conquer the world as processing their worlds in a more intimate medium - including newer works by Andrea Clearfield and Jennifer Higdon.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 25, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
Writing for string quartet and voice is a tricky thing, and at the basic level of craft, Jennifer Higdon skillfully avoids the pitfalls in In the Shadow of Sirius . The piece was played Saturday night at the Curtis Institute of Music in the first of this season's three residency recitals by the Aizuri Quartet at the school. Higdon, a Curtis composition professor, has a towering model for the form in "Dover Beach," Samuel Barber's moving 1931 work for the same combination. In fact, Barber's language hovers near.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 23, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Nobody ever said Orchestra 2001 couldn't rock - a modern ensemble has to be able to do anything - but perhaps no previous program has challenged this group (a 10-player version) to prove it so vehemently as the one Sunday under guest conductor Jayce Ogren at the Arts Bank. Four composers were heard at their most raucous, in performances that displayed a controlled abandon seldom heard in new-music concerts. The idea was to show how rock-and-roll has been morphed by minimalists such as Julia Wolfe and Louis Andriessen, as well as more mainstream figures such as Jennifer Higdon.
NEWS
August 2, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
It would be understandable if anyone left the Philadelphia Orchestra's second and last free "neighborhood concert" of the season feeling bemused. The point of these concerts, started a decade and half ago, is to bring the orchestra to audiences who don't ordinarily go to it. Holding Thursday night's neighborhood concert in Verizon Hall, the orchestra's home, represented a certain up-is-down logic that perhaps only the orchestra and its sponsors could appreciate. The concert wasn't exactly free, either.
NEWS
April 17, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
In the current generation of so-called rock-star symphony orchestra conductors, Stéphane Denève definitely has the hair. Though not as wild as Gustavo Dudamel's or as glossy as Riccado Muti's, it corkscrews with such a mind of its own you're sure he didn't plan the look. He may be so preoccupied with musical matters he doesn't even notice it. Clearly, it's an accident. "This is the exact story," says the ebullient French-born principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 10, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 28, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 21, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Celebrating the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the concert hall has never been easy. Where do you start? His activism? Culture? The poetry behind his ideals? In a rare appearance at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, Orchestra 2001 under James Freeman celebrated King on Saturday in any way it could: major new works by Richard Danielpour and Jay Fluellen plus the youthful Play On, Philly! Orchestra and a gospel choir, all of which will be repeated at 3 p.m. Sunday at Swarthmore College's Lang Concert Hall.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 25, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
NEW YORK - Five years in the making, star baritone Nathan Gunn's high-concept, high-style recital Wednesday at Carnegie Hall's Zankel auditorium could be heard as a precursor of his leading role in Jennifer Higdon's forthcoming Civil War-era opera Cold Mountain , co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and the Santa Fe Opera. The Anglo-American program concluded with Dooryard Bloom , a 25-minute Higdon work for baritone and orchestra that's among her best, heard here in the premiere of a new version replacing full orchestra with the Pacifica Quartet and pianist Julie Gunn, the singer's wife.
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