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Famed composer Jennifer Higdon to appear with Wheeling Symphony

February 28, 2013
Times Leader

WHEELING -The Wheeling Symphony will celebrate the 50th birthday year of Pulitzer Prize- and Grammy-winning composer Jennifer Higdon with a performance March 8 at the Capitol Theatre of her Concerto for Orchestra plus events that week with the composer for the public and music students.

High school and college music theory and composition students throughout West Virginia will have the unique opportunity to learn live and on-demand from Higdon during her residency March 6-8 with the Wheeling Symphony.

As part of her residency, students from throughout the state have been invited to attend master classes, a live webinar or an on-demand presentation of the webinar during which some will have the opportunity to ask questions of the award-winning composer.

Higdon received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, with the committee citing Higdon's work as a "deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity." She has also received awards from the Serge Koussevitzky Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts & Letters (two awards), the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Meet-the-Composer, National Endowment for the Arts, and ASCAP. Her Percussion Concerto won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in January, 2010.

The Wheeling Symphony residency week begins March 6 with Ms. Higdon traveling to West Liberty University to conduct a master class with Professor Matt Harder's composition students. She will then travel to Morgantown where she will conduct another master class with West Virginia University Professor John Beall's composition students.

On March 7 she will engage in a live webinar question-and-answer session with high school students and WLU students of theory and /or composition at West Liberty University television station. The broadcast also will be available for upload online for students throughout the state.

During the residency week, Ms. Higdon, Mr. Raphel and Erika Donaghy, Wheeling Arts Commission president, will be panelist at a Town Hall on Thursday, March 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling. The Wheeling Symphony Percussion Section will perform Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra, movement IV as a part of that meeting. The meeting titled Higdon, The Composer: At the Intersection of Art and the Community will be free and open to the public. RSVP by March 1 by calling 304-232-6191. A light lunch will follow.

The composer and the conductor also will offer a free Concert Talk in the Capitol Theatre ballroom at 7 p.m. Friday, March 8, prior to orchestra's 8 p.m. Masterworks concert which in addition will feature Rossini's Il Signor Bruschino, Respighi's Pini di Roma, and American soprano Ilana Davidson singing Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate.

Maestro Raphel commented, "The composer residency by Jennifer Higdon represents a collaboration with one of America's most important musical voices. With artistic focus on an exciting work of our time and opportunity for organizational growth, this residency creates a tangible connection between composer, orchestra and the community."

The concert is sponsored by Dick and Rosalie Dlesk & Family and WTOV9. It is also a performance of the College Concert Series presented by Wheeling Jesuit University.

Sponsors for the Higdon residency are the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, West Virginia Commission on the Arts, Judge and Mrs. Frederick P. Stamp Jr. and Women's Philharmonic Advocacy.

For concert tickets, call 304-232-6191, visit the WSO Box Office at 1025 Main St., Suite 811, or online at

Higdon (b. Brooklyn, NY, December 31, 1962) started late in music, teaching herself to play flute at the age of 15 and then beginning formal musical studies at 18, with an even later start in composition at the age of 21. Despite this late start, Higdon has become a major figure in contemporary classical music and makes her living from commissions, completing between five-10 pieces a year. These works represent a range of genres, from orchestral to chamber and from choral and vocal to wind ensemble. Hailed by the Washington Post as "a savvy, sensitive composer with a keen ear, an innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit," the League of American Orchestras reports that she is one of America's most frequently performed composers.

Higdon's list of commissioners and performing organizations is extensive and includes The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony, The Atlanta Symphony, The Baltimore Symphony, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, The London Philharmonic Orchestra, The Luzern Sinfonieorchester, The Hague Philharmonic, The Melbourne Symphony, The New Zealand Symphony, The Pittsburgh Symphony, The Indianapolis Symphony, The Dallas Symphony, as well as such groups as the Tokyo String Quartet and the President's Own Marine Band.

Her works have been recorded on over four dozen CDs. Other CDs including her music that have won Grammys: Higdon: Concerto for Orchestra/City Scape, Strange Imaginary Animals, and Transmigration. Higdon's most recent releases include a CD of string music by the Seraphin Quartet (2013), works performed by Gary Graffman and the Lark Quartet (2013), and the symphonic band version of Higdon's Soprano Sax Concerto (2012).

She is currently writing an opera, based on Charles Frazier's book Cold Mountain, which is scheduled to be premiered in August, 2015, by Santa Fe Opera. Dr. Higdon currently holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Composition Studies at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her music is published exclusively by Lawdon Press.

For more information of the Wheeling Symphony, visit



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