Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jennifer Higdon Wins a GRAMMY for her Percussion Concerto!

Among the winners of tonight's GRAMMY Awards is Jennifer Higdon, who won the Grammy for "Best Classical Contemporary Composition" with the London Philharmonic's recording of her Percussion Concerto with Marin Alsop conducting the London Philharmonic and soloist Colin Currie for whom the work had been composed.

The concerto had been performed by the Harrisburg Symphony in March 2008 with Stuart Malina conducting and the orchestra's principal percussionist Chris Rose, the soloist.

The orchestra performed her "SkyLine" (from CityScape) this weekend and a few seasons ago, her "Blue Cathedral," one of the most frequently performed modern works in the country.

While she was here to work with the orchestra and meet the public during the performance of her Percussion Concerto, she was unable to come up from Philadelphia for "Blue Cathedral" because she was in Los Angeles attending the Grammy Awards Ceremony: a recording of her "Concerto for Orchestra" had been nominated that year, but didn't win. Still, it was exciting (and loud) to have been there and experience everything live.

Though she'd been in town when the Cypress Quartet performed her string quartet "Impressions" with Market Square Concerts the previous weekend, she was unable to be here this weekend but not because of the Grammy Awards Ceremony: this time, she just had too much work to do finishing up some new pieces scheduled for premieres very soon.

She joked with Stuart that we should be performing more of her music in Harrisburg because so far they coincided with the Grammys or the piece that was performed was nominated for one. When she told me she wasn't going to be able to attend the ceremony this year, I joked that now she had a more likely chance of winning - we both laughed, "like carrying an umbrella in case it might rain and it never does." And so - she won!

So congratluations to Jennifer Higdon for actually having TWO works win Grammy Awards in her absence: the recording that won Best Surround Sound Recording (which is not technically a classical category) included John Adams' "On the Transmigration of Souls," two versions of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" (including the choral version) and Jennifer Higdon's "Dooryard Bloom," a setting of Walt Whitman's words for voice and orchestra.

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For more information and a list of the other winners of this year's Classical Grammy Awards, go to Thoughts on a Train.

- Dr. Dick

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