Jennifer Higdon

Machine

           Higdon’s career is booming right now with commissions from a variety of distinguished symphony orchestras and virtuosi.  She has a degree in flute performance and was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an MA and a PhD.   She went on to study composition at the Curtis Institute; her composition teachers include the distinguished composers George Crumb and Ned Rorem.   She was a relatively late bloomer--she points to musical influences from Peter, Paul and Mary, the Beatles, and Simon and Garfunkel.  With four Grammy nominations under her belt, she is also a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her Violin Concerto.  It would be hard, indeed, to think of many contemporary American composers whose compositions are played more frequently than are hers.  She’s

Trombone Concerto

        The trombone has been characterized as a “donkey” among horses, owing to the inherent difficulty of operating the slide with the facility that comes easily to all other instruments.  And, the general demise of bands--both “big bands” and “military bands”--as important elements in American musical life has had a deleterious influence upon the instrument’s popularity.  You just don’t see as many of them as you used to--even in combo jazz.  Nevertheless, the trombone has long been an important part of serious music--it has been there from the late middle ages in the church when the trumpet was still only a military signal instrument and the French horn was still out hunting foxes.