A photo of classical music composer, Jennifer Higdon

The Life and Career of Rock & Classical Composer, Jennifer Higdon


Jennifer Higdon is an award-winning classical music composer in the United States. She has won three Grammy Awards as of 2023. Many notice the talent behind her performances. She most notably plays the flute and her classical compositions as her primary companion with her works.


Early Life


Jennifer Higdon, born on the 31st of December 1962, was born in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City in the United States, though she didn’t live in New York much at all. She initially lived in Georgia for ten years and then moved to Tennessee.


Higdon did not gain her interest in art all on her own. She was initially given some knowledge of art by Charles Higdon, who was her father. Charles Higdon also loved different types of art, especially painting. Her father made sure he exposed Jennifer Higdon and her brother, Andrew Higdon, to numerous styles and types of art.


The first types of art she became interested in were 1960s rock music, folk music, and other types of hobbies like photography and writing earlier. In high school, though, she started developing a connection with the flute, which would be her main instrument. In high school, she started using percussion in a band and also a flute that belonged to her mother. Soon, when she learned how to use the flute, she used it in her concert band in high school. Later, she went on to study the usage of the flute at Bowling Green State University.






At Bowling Green State University (a university in Ohio), she studied the usage of the flute, which would go on to be her main instrument.



She did have quite some roadblocks, though she had little experience with the flute earlier, so she struggled with learning about the advanced parts of the instrument, which her classmates didn’t have as much hard time on.



At Bowling, she later wrote a composition after improving her skills. It was a piano and flute piece that was called Night Creatures. Later in her university life, she obtained an Artist’s Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, and at the University of Pennsylvania, she got a Master of Arts and a composition Ph.D.



Her music style originated from her listening to The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and more bands. She performs classical music, but her musical style did not come from listening to classical music, as she has listened to a few amounts of classical music.





Career and Achievements



Jennifer Higdon has gotten commissions from numerous well-known symphony orchestras such as the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Indianapolis Symphony.


Higdon has dozens of well thought compositions. Some of her most popular works are the blue cathedral, which is a musical poem with a sad story that has been performed by around 400 orchestras since 2000.


Her Violin Concerto, which won her the 2010 Pulitzer Prize; Percussion Concerto, and more.


Jennifer Higdon has gotten numerous awards from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, Meet-the-Composer, ASCAP, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation.


She has obtained three Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. With the Percussion Concerto, she won her 2010 Grammy, won her 2018 Grammy for her Viola Concerto, and she won her most recent 2020 Grammy because of her Harp Concerto. She also won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 because of her Violin Concerto.


Higdon has her compositions officially performed around 200 times every single year, with around 650 official performances in total just from blue cathedral!



Back to blog