12-31-1962

Jennifer Higdon

JENNIFER HIGDON, an American composer and musician, was born on this date. She has received many awards including the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto and the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for her Percussion Concerto. Higdon was born in Brooklyn, but spent her first 10 years in Atlanta, Georgia, before moving to Tennessee. A largely self-taught flautist, she played in her high school’s concert band and heard little classical music before her college years. She studied at Bowling Green and majored in flute performance. 

Higdon teaches composition at the Curtis Institute where she holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Compositional Studies. She has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony. Her musical style uses elements of traditional tonality and emphasizes interesting color combinations.

Higdon has received commissions from major symphonies including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the National Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the Dallas Symphony. blue cathedral, a one-movement tone poem dealing with the death of her brother from cancer, has quickly became one of the most performed modern orchestral works by a living American composer. It has been performed by more than 400 orchestras since its premiere in 2000. Her works have been recorded on more than four dozen CDs.

Higdon ihas written an opera based on Charles Frazier’s 1997 novel, Cold Mountain. It was co-commissioned by The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia and was premiered in Santa Fe in 2015. The libretto is written by Gene Scheer. It is Higdon’s first opera. She is the most frequently performed living female composer according to the League of American Composers.

Higdon lives with her partner Cheryl Lawson in Philadelphia. They met in high school.