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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
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.
NEWS
October 23, 2006 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
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
November 25, 2005 | By TOM DI NARDO For the Daily News
Every composer dreams of having works performed and having the world's most acclaimed artists request new pieces. Local composer Jennifer Higdon has achieved that pinnacle, with commissions into the next decade and inspiration apparently coming without pause. Her moving "blue cathedral," written after the sudden death of her younger brother Andrew Blue Higdon seven years ago, has become the most frequently performed orchestral work by an American composer. In recent weeks, her music has been played by Orchestra 2001 and in the Philadelphia Orchestra's chamber music series.
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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.
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.
NEWS
January 13, 2013
Sunday Cage quartet A highlight of January's John Cage festival is a first-ever gathering of four eminent performers of the composer's works - Pauline Oliveros , Christian Wolff , Michael Pisaro , and Keith Rowe - playing 1990's Four6 . The work, scored for a quartet with "any way of producing sounds," invites the players to each choose and number 12 sounds that they are willing to make, and to begin and end them sometime during a set of fixed durations....
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
January 24, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
After a full decade of near-annual George Crumb premieres - and with them, landscapes of sounds undreamed of - Orchestra 2001 has completely earned its latest running joke: When the players are ambushed by odd noises on the street, they say, "Don't let George hear that one!" - meaning, he might put it in his next piece. "Oh, I know," said the soft-spoken Pulitzer-winning composer, who is 82. "They kid me, too. They do. " As it is, Voices From the Heartland , the seventh set in his "American Songbook" series, will be premiered Saturday and Sunday by Orchestra 2001 with a Balinese anklung, an Afro-Brazilian berimbau, and 98 other percussion instruments that are as hard to imagine as they are to pronounce.
NEWS
August 14, 2011 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Having helped raise Jennifer Higdon's stillborn Cold Mountain opera from the dead, the Opera Company of Philadelphia also announced on Wednesday a series of like-minded new-opera projects that dramatically change the company's face - and future. In roughly five years, the company has morphed from a conservative, standard-repertoire-based organization to a haven for new opera with a speed that astounds even those who made it happen. "Think about it: We have four [operas] under active commission and two others that we're working on," said general director David Devan.
NEWS
March 20, 2011 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Sometime in the next century, as music historians study the sudden outpouring of 2011 classical recordings in Philadelphia, they may puzzle over composer Jennifer Higdon's abrupt change of course. Coming off her Pulitzer Prize-winning Violin Concerto , which fits so neatly alongside traditional concerto repertoire, did she go off the deep end with On a Wire , written for new-music group Eighth Blackbird? Theories will range from musical to medical. Did she channel John Cage?
NEWS
February 16, 2011 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Lucky for Philadelphia that Kimmel Center audiences aren't as exuberantly destructive as sports fans after a World Series victory. Otherwise, Verizon Hall might have been trashed Monday night after a similarly prestigious victory, when locally based Grammy Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon took her bows for her Violin Concerto after its Philadelphia premiere by the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Hilary Hahn. Mayhem was under control. No briefcases or cough drops were flung.
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