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Higdon, Jennifer (Elaine)locked

  • Christina L. Reitz

(b Brooklyn, NY, Dec 31, 1962).

American composer and flutist. Higdon spent her early childhood in Atlanta, Georgia until the age of ten, when her family relocated to Seymour, Tennessee. At age fourteen, she began her initial applied music training as a percussionist in the marching band; shortly thereafter, Higdon became self-taught on the flute and subsequently attended Bowling Green State University as a flute performance major studying with Judith Bentley. The latter initially encouraged Higdon in composition, which resulted in her first work, Night Creatures, for flute and piano. While at Bowling Green, she participated in Robert Spano’s conducting course; as the current music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Spano has maintained a significant role in commissioning Higdon’s music that places her at the forefront of the Atlanta School of Composers.

Higdon received an Artist’s Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, and a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in composition from the University of Pennsylvania where she studied with George Crumb. She currently holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Composition at the Curtis Institute of Music. Higdon’s work has been commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Atlanta SO, the Chicago SO, the Pittsburgh SO and the Tokyo String Quartet, among numerous other ensembles.

Higdon’s music has received many awards, including the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for the Violin Concerto and a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for the Percussion Concerto, as well as prizes from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Higdon has been featured at numerous festivals and in symphonic residencies. All publication rights are maintained through her company, Lawdon Press.

Higdon’s orchestral music features extensive use of percussion, which governs the fourth movement of her Concerto for Orchestra. Additionally, her style is noteworthy for its use of open fifth intervals and attention to tone color accomplished primarily through unorthodox string soli, which are highly prevalent in her most popular work, blue cathedral.



Shine, 1995

blue cathedral, 2000

Fanfare Ritmico, 2000

Conc. for Orch, 2002

City Scape, 2002

Machine, 2003

Dooryard Bloom, baritone, 2004

Oboe Conc., 2005

Perc. Conc., 2005

The Singing Rooms, vn, SATB, 2006

Vn Conc., 2008

Chbr inst

Voices, str qt, 1993

wissahickon poeTrees, fl, cl, vn, vc, pf, perc, 1993

Autumn Music, wind qnt, 1995

Sky Quartet, str qt, 1997, rev. 2000

Legacy, fl, pf, 1999

Celestial Hymns, cl, vn, va, vc, pf, 2000

Dark Wood, bn, vn, vc, pf, 2001

Dash, cl, vn, pf, 2001

Bentley Roses, Mez, fl, pf, 2002

Impressions, str qt, 2003

Piano Trio, vn, vc, pf, 2003

Southern Harmony, str qt, 2003

Zaka, fl, cl, vn, vc, pf, perc, 2003

Exaltation of Larks, str qt, 2005

String Poetic, vn, pf, 2006


Deep in the Night, SATB, 1997

Southern Grace, SATB, 1998

A Quiet Moment, TTBB, 1999

O Magnum Mysterium, SATB, 2 fl, glasses, perc, 2002


  • B.R. Phillips: Jennifer Higdon: a Stylistic Analysis of Selected Flute and Orchestral Works (diss., Arizona State U., 2005)
  • C. Reitz: A Comprehensive Analysis of Selected Orchestral Works by Jennifer Higdon (diss., U. of Florida, 2007)