Award Conquering Composer, Jennifer Higdon

Award Conquering Composer, Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer Higdon is an award winning classical music composer in the United States. She most notably plays the flute along with her classical compositions, as it is her main companion with her works. Her performances are not unnoticed, she has won three Grammy Awards as of 2021. 


Early Life

Jennifer Higdon, born 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 of art all on her own, she was initially given some knowledge on 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 become interested in were in 1960’s rock music, folk music, and other types of hobbies like photography and writing earlier. In high school though, she started developing connection towards the flute, which would be her main instrument. In high school, she started using the percussion in a band, and also a flute that belonged to her mother. Soon, when she learnt how to use the flute, she has 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 of the flute earlier, so she struggled with learning about the advanced parts of the instrument, which her classmates weren’t having an 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 in the University of Pennsylvania, she got a Master of Arts and a composition PhD. Her music style has originated from her listening of The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and more bands. She performs classical music, but her music style did not come from listening to classical music, as she has listened to 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 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 & LettersMeet-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, she 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!

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