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.
April 25, 2013 |
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.
November 25, 2005 |
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.
November 17, 1998 |
To celebrate its 100th anniversary season, the Philadelphia Orchestra will offer a free outdoor concert, a retrospective CD set and book, eight commissions by major international composers and a wealth of outreach programs. Details were given yesterday on the Academy of Music stage, with Maestro Wolfgang Sawallisch participating via telephone link from Tokyo. The announcements came exactly two years before the centenary of the first program, given at the Academy on Nov. 16, 1900.
October 22, 2001 |
Every so often, coincidences collide with a precision that reminds that fate has ways of taking good care of you. Now that music lovers are going to concerts again after the disasters of Sept. 11, what greeted them at the Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany on Saturday was "Great Hymns and Anthems of the Church" by the Philadelphia Singers. It was much needed. Remarkably, the program was planned months ago, and it seemed, before Sept. 11, an odd plan. Hymns are the music of everyday people in church services.
September 25, 2002 |
It shows great confidence in a performer when a season-opening gala is built around a clarinet, something usually buried in orchestral music or treated like a folk instrument to be tolerated rather than encouraged. The Astral Concerts for All Seasons began at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater with Igor Begelman and five other instrumentalists exploring music with distinctively national flavors. Begelman speaks boldly through the instrument. His virtuosity expresses itself through eloquence more than showiness, for eloquence incorporates shaded sound through a wide range, precise intonation, etched technical passages, and an instinct for the witty turn of phrase.
January 23, 2006 |
Any alert classical-music community, great or small, harbors secret fears that its symphony orchestra programs are the same, somewhat impersonal rotation of masterpieces heard anyplace else. So you have to be impressed that Lambertville's Riverside Symphonia, a 26-year-old professional orchestra directed by Mariusz Smolij, is fostering something indigenous: Besides programming Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale, acted and narrated by area radio personalities, locally based composer Robert Maggio unveiled At the River, which encapsulates this cozy, artsy community with site-specific recordings of its residents - ducks and all. Immediate antecedents would be On the Transmigration of Souls, the John Adams orchestral work that used recorded voices as a memorial to the fatalities of 9/11, and City Scape, Jennifer Higdon's triptych of tone poems depicting her former city of residence, Atlanta.
September 28, 1998 |
David Hayes doesn't lean toward light programming for the city's professional chorus, the Philadelphia Singers. But Friday night's season-opener was as entertaining as one could wish without sacrificing much substance. Hayes, conductor and artistic director, built the evening around folk songs adapted by eminent Americans, such as Aaron Copland, Randall Thompson, Robert Shaw and Alice Parker. And though her name isn't yet as celebrated as any of the above, Hayes underlined the talents of another homegrown composer, Jennifer Higdon, whose Southern Grace received its world premiere.
March 4, 2008 |
Only at a new-music concert would a creaky piano bench receive ironic applause - what a clever opening chord! - since these audiences tend to be ready for anything. And in the composer summit meeting that was the Network for New Music's "Ten for Carter" concert Sunday at the Settlement Music School, the most seasoned ears enjoyed pleasantly defied expectations. The concept was to pay tribute to the great American composer Elliott Carter - who turns 100 on Dec. 11 - not only in a handful of his own pieces, but in short, newly commissioned solo piano works composed by others.
April 6, 2000 |
Another day, another fine Jennifer Higdon piece. The Philadelphia-based composer is having major performances every few weeks lately, both here and nearby. On Tuesday, the Lark Quartet gave the world premiere of her Scenes From the Poet's Dreams, with Gary Graffman on piano. It's a Philadelphia Chamber Music Society commission. The title refers to the music's fanciful look at poetic imagination, a concept bound to let Higdon get away with anything and avoid nods to traditional European form.