jennifer higdon tackles 10 questions

stop the presses: the next oregon symphony concert will feature works by, not one, but two living composers!  the classical beaver managed to catch up with one of ‘em.  jennifer higdon dedicated her 2005 percussion concerto to flailing scotsman colin currie, and both jennifer and colin will be in the house saturday/monday.  without further ado, grammy-award-winning composer, jennifer higdon…

how much improvisation is involved in your percussion concerto?

Most of the piece is written out, but the cadenza is improvised by Colin.  There are also small sections within the body of the piece where Colin improvises.

the evening’s program also includes gershwin’s cuban overture – any reactions to that pairing?

Sounds fine to me!

what instruments do you play?

The flute.

remember, it’s perfectly fine with me if you want to elaborate on anything.  just saying.  um, what’s so great about experiencing classical music live?

It’s a completely different experience live.  With this concerto it’s even more exciting because the soloist moves around the front of the stage, playing at different percussion stations.  And sometimes, it’s a mad dash for him, trying to set his mallets down, run to the next station, pick up his sticks and turn the page in front of him, just in the nick of time to come in on cue.

you won a pulitzer prize last year.  in my interview with william bolcom, he said the actual award wasn’t much to speak of – is that still the case?

They now have a small Tiffany statue that goes with the certificate.  Just having the word “Pulitzer” attached to my name is enough, though.

i’ll have to tell mr. bolcom he should try and snag one of those statues.  more importantly, if i were to buy you a drink, what would you order?

A Diet Coke.

could you talk a bit about the singing rooms and jennifer koh (she’ll be playing with the symphony next month)?

The Singing Rooms was written for Jennifer Koh and is a concerto for violin that also involves full chorus with the orchestra.  It’s a very different type of piece…the audience can focus on the soloist, or the chorus, or the orchestra.  It’s 6 poems, arranged as if the listener were journeying through a house with varying rooms filled with life lessons.  The first poem returns at the end to close off the piece.  There’s a new recording with the work as the title track on Telarc… Jennifer Koh is the soloist with the Atlanta Symphony and ASO Chorus. The recording is dynamite.

what three composers would you like to have dinner with and where the heck would you go?

Beethoven, Stravinsky, and Paul McCartney.  I’d take them to Pizzicato Pizza!

are you stoked by any non-classical music?

TONS!  My usual listening is non-classical.  I love all kinds of music and such artists as Allison Krauss, Dixie Chicks, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Eminem, Garth Brooks, Peter, Paul & Mary.  Heck, there’s a lot that I listen to.

what expectations do you have about the oregon symphony performing your work?

I think these are going to be seriously FUN concerts – I can’t wait!

tell me about it.  thanks jennifer!

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1 Response to “jennifer higdon tackles 10 questions”


  1. 1 Jordan January 23, 2011 at 9:59 am

    YOU INTERVIEWED JENNIFER HIGDON?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?! BRIAN!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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