Jennifer Higdon

1999 PEW FELLOW
Updated
30 Nov 2016

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Jennifer Higdon, 1999 Pew Fellow. Photo by Andrew Bogard.

“Composing is like feeling around in the dark.”

Pulitzer Prize- and two-time Grammy Award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon is one of America’s most frequently performed living composers. A major figure in contemporary classical music, she received the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, a 2010 Grammy for her Percussion Concerto and a 2018 Grammy for her Viola Concerto. Her first opera, Cold Mountain, won the prestigious International Opera Award for Best World Premiere in 2016; the first American opera to do so in the award’s history. She enjoys several hundred performances a year of her works.

Higdon’s work represents a wide range of genres, including orchestral, chamber, wind ensemble, vocal, choral and opera. Her music has been hailed by Fanfare Magazine as having "the distinction of being at once complex, sophisticated but readily accessible emotionally", with the Times of London citing it as "…traditionally rooted, yet imbued with integrity and freshness." Higdon has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, among others. Her extensive list of commissioners includes The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony, The Atlanta Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, and The Minnesota Orchestra. Hidgon has also written works for artists like baritone Thomas Hampson, pianists Yuja Wang and Gary Graffman, violinists Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Jennifer Koh and Hilary Hahn. She has served as Composer-in-Residence with a several orchestras, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Fort Worth Symphony, and recognized as the featured composer at a number of festivals like Aspen, Tanglewood, Vail, Norfolk, Grand Teton, and Cabrillo. Higdon holds the Rock Chair in Composition at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.