Thursday, October 1, 2015

Jennifer Higdon and blue cathedral

Continuing our look at modern-day composers this month, today let’s talk about Pulitzer Prize and Grammy-winning composer Jennifer Higdon (1962), who currently resides in Philadelphia working at The Curtis Institute of Music.

Higdon got a late start in her music training, beginning studies at 18! She later began composing at the age of 21 and soon realized she had a knack for writing a variety of genres.

Written to commemorate The Curtis Institute’s 75th anniversary in 2000, blue cathedral was inspired by Higdon’s idea of crossing paths with various people in life and how one can grow through each encounter. Around the time she was working on this piece, Higdon’s brother died and she decided to represent him with the clarinet and herself with the flute. The flute begins the duo since she is the elder of the siblings and the clarinet ends the piece by continuing in an upward motion in a journey beyond.

Did you know that Higdon’s decision to use flute and clarinet in blue cathedral was quite intentional? She plays the flute and her brother played the clarinet.

Next week we’ll look at Morten Lauridsen and Arvo Part!