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Comprehensive Analysis of Jennifer Higdon's Selected Orchestral Works

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021370/00001

Material Information

Title: Comprehensive Analysis of Jennifer Higdon's Selected Orchestral Works
Physical Description: 1 online resource (237 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Reitz, Christina L
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: higdon
Music -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Music thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: My research explores the most recent symphonic compositions of Jennifer Higdon that have propelled her to national fame. A stylistic analysis of blue cathedral, Concerto for Orchestra and City Scape reveal compositional traits unique to this composer that differentiates her music from contemporaries. A principal reasoning for such differences is fundamentally related to her compositional philosophy and her self-described intuitive style. This study examines and defines this style with pertinent illustrations of its numerous manifestations in her music. As a living composer, Higdon is able to contribute significantly to numerous questions about her experiences and the analysis of her music. Her intuitive method remains her primary compositional technique and as such, this document places great emphasis on defining this strategy with illustrative examples.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Christina L Reitz.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Local: Adviser: Kushner, David Z.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2007
System ID: UFE0021370:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021370/00001

Material Information

Title: Comprehensive Analysis of Jennifer Higdon's Selected Orchestral Works
Physical Description: 1 online resource (237 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Reitz, Christina L
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: higdon
Music -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Music thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: My research explores the most recent symphonic compositions of Jennifer Higdon that have propelled her to national fame. A stylistic analysis of blue cathedral, Concerto for Orchestra and City Scape reveal compositional traits unique to this composer that differentiates her music from contemporaries. A principal reasoning for such differences is fundamentally related to her compositional philosophy and her self-described intuitive style. This study examines and defines this style with pertinent illustrations of its numerous manifestations in her music. As a living composer, Higdon is able to contribute significantly to numerous questions about her experiences and the analysis of her music. Her intuitive method remains her primary compositional technique and as such, this document places great emphasis on defining this strategy with illustrative examples.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Christina L Reitz.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Local: Adviser: Kushner, David Z.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2007
System ID: UFE0021370:00001


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9eaebb36185650df27780582339ad346134b2ea8







COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS OF SELECTED ORCHESTRAL WORKS BY JENNIFER
HIGDON




















By

CHRISTINA L. REITZ


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2007


































O 2007 by Christina L. Reitz




























To Mr. Listopad, my high school calculus teacher, who said I would never amount to
anything









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I thank my parents, Scott and Linda Reitz, my brother and sister, Timothy and Danielle

Reitz, for unending support throughout my graduate schooling and health obstacles along the

way. They continue to keep me grounded in reality.

I offer humble gratitude to the members of my committee Dr. David Z. Kushner, Dr. Kevin

R. Orr, Dr. Arthur C. Jennings, Dr. Leslie Odom and Dr. Angel Kwolek-Folland for the

encouragement and assistance while jumping through the final hoop.

To Jennifer Higdon, I am highly indebted for the generous sharing of her time, and interest

in my research and to Lawdon Press for allowing reproductions of copyright material.

Lastly, to my very best friend, Leonardo Valenzuela, I offer my undying gratitude for the

beauty and laughter you continue to add to my life.












TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .............. ...............4.....


LI ST OF FIGURE S .............. ...............6.....


AB S TRAC T ......_ ................. ............_........9


CHAPTER


1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............10.......... ......


2 JENNIFER HIGDON: BIOGRAPHY, COMPOSITIONAL METHOD AND
STYLISTIC TRAITS .............. ...............15....


Biography ................... ...............15..
Compositional Method .............. ...............28....
Stylistic Traits ................. ...............33........... ....
H arm ony .............. ...............33....
M elody ................ ...............3.. 5..............
Rhythm .............. ...............36....
Texture ................. ...............37.................
Orchestration .............. ...............38....
Form s ................ ...... ...... .. ...............39.......

Program vs. Absolute Music .............. ...............41....
Unifying Devices............... ...............42
Conclusion............... ...............4


3 BLUE CATHEDRAL................ ...............4


4 CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA .............. ...............73....


5 CITY SCAPE............... ...............158.


6 CRITICAL RECEPTION ............. ...... .__ ...............218..


7 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION ............. .....__ ....._ ............2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............. ...............236....











LIST OF FIGURES


figure page

3-1 blue cathedral: mm. 40-43, modal ambiguity between horns and trombones. ....................54

3-2 blue cathedral: mm. 1 14-1 17, Higdon' s "counterpoint of textures." ........._..._ ........._.....64

3-3 blue cathedral: mm. 149-153. ............. ...............69.....


4-1 Concerto for Orchestra, I, mm. 1-4............... ...............83..

4-2 Concerto for Orchestra, I, mm. 2-6............... ...............84..

4-3 Concerto for Orchestra, I, mm. 29-33............... ...............87.

4-4 Concerto for Orchestra, I, mm. 94-97............... ...............93.

4-5 Concerto for Orchestra, I, mm. 133-136............... ...............95

4-6 Concerto for Orchestra, II, mm. 1-2. ............. ...............102....

4-7 Concerto for Orchestra, II, mm. 22............... ...............104..

4-8 Concerto for Orchestra, II, mm. 23-24. ............. ...............105....

4-9 Concerto for Orchestra, II, cello motive, mm. 68-69, 71-72. ................ ............. .......108

4-10 Concerto for Orchestra, II, mm. 115-116. ........._._.. ....__.. ...............110

4-11 Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 1-6. ..........__.. ......_ ...............115.

4-12 Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 42-47. ..........__._ ...._.. ...._.._ ...........1

4-13 Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 56-62. ..........__._ ...._.. ...._.._ ...........1

4-14 Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 82-86. ..........__._ ...._.. ...._.._ ...........1

4-15 Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 123-126. ...._.._.._ ..... .._._. .... .._.. ......12

4-16 Concerto for Orchestra, III, concert master solo, mm. 159-162............... ................12

4-17 Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 177-182. ...._.._.._ ..... .._._. .....__.........12

4-18 Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 191-192. ...._.._.._ ..... ..__. ...............126

4-19 Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 23 8-244. ...._.._.._ ..... .._._. .....__..........12

4-20 Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 245-251 ..........__........_.._......_. ...........2












4-21 Concerto for Orchestra, IV, mm. 1-5............... ...............134..


4-22 Concerto for Orchestra, IV, mm. 72-74................. ...............13


4-23 Concerto for Orchestra, IV, mm. 91-95............... ...............139.


4-24 Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 1-5 ..........._... ...............141.._._._ ...


4-25 Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 24-26. ....__. ...._.._.._ ......._._. ..........14


4-26 Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 52-53 ..........._... ...............145._.... ....


4-27 Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 91-96. ....__. ...._.._.._ ......._._. .........14


4-28 Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 135-141 ..........._... ...............150.._._.. ..


4-29 Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 151-154. ....__. ...._.._.._ ......._._. ........15


4-30 Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 164-165 ..........._... ...............152.._._.. ..


4-31 Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm.186-189. ...._. ......_._._ .......__. ........15

5-1 .\ l /ine, mm. 19-24 ................ ...............166.............


5-2 .\ l /ine, mm. 31-33 .........._.._. .......... ...............167 .


5-3 .\l l /ine, mm. 37-40. ................ ...............169..............


5-4 .\l l /ine, mm. 49-51 .........._.._. .......... ...............170...

5-5 .\ l /ine, mm. 83-87. ................ ...............173..............


5-6 .\ l /ine, mm. 117-122. ................ ...............177........... .


5-7 .\l l /ine, mm. 216-220. ................ ...............182.............


5-8 river sings a song to trees, mm. 1-6. ............. ...............186....


5-9 river sings a song to trees, measures 16-21 ................. ...............186...........


5-10 river sings a song to trees, mm. 15-21. ............. ...............187....


5-11 river sings a song to trees, mm. 40-41. ............. ...............188............. .


5-12 river sings a song to trees, mm. 64-66. ............. ...............189....


5-13 river sings a song to trees, mm. 8 1-82. ............. ...............190....


5-14 river sings a song to trees, mm. 115-124. ................ ......... ...............191











5-15 river sings a song to trees, mm. 133-138. ............. ...............192....

5-16 river sings a song to trees, mm. 158-163. ............. ...............194....


5-17 river sings a song to trees, mm. 166-169. ............ ..... ..............19

5-18 river sings a song to trees, mm. 183-184. ............. ...............196....


5-19 river sings a song to trees, mm. 220-227. ............. ...............197....

5-20 Peachtree Street, mm. 20-24. ............. ...............202....


5-21 Peachtree Street, mm. 30-34. ............. ...............204....

5-22 Peachtree Street, mm. 57-61. ............. ...............206....


5-23 Peachtree Street, mm. 83-85. ............. ...............207....

5-24 Peachtree Street, mm. 100-104. ............. ...............209....


5-25 Peachtree Street, mm. 114-119. ............. ...............210....

5-26 Peachtree Street, mm. 125-129. ............. ...............212....


5-27 Peachtree Street, mm.151-154 .............. ...............214....









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS OF JENNIFER HIGDON' S SELECTED ORCHESTRAL
WORKS

By

Christina L. Reitz

August 2007

Chair: David Z. Kushner
Major: Music

My research explores the most recent symphonic compositions of Jennifer Higdon that has

propelled her to national fame. A stylistic analysis of bhte cathedral, Concerto for Orchestra

and City Scape reveal compositional traits unique to this composer that differentiates her music

from contemporaries. A principal reasoning for such differences is fundamentally related to her

compositional philosophy and her self-described intuitive style. This study examines and defines

this style with pertinent illustrations of its numerous manifestations in her music. As a living

composer, Higdon is able to contribute significantly to numerous questions about her

experiences and the analysis of her music. Her intuitive method remains her primary

compositional technique and as such, this document places great emphasis on defining this

strategy with illustrative examples.









CHAPTER 1
INTTRODUCTION

The orchestral music of Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962) has recently achieved great recognition

within the contemporary symphonic circuit. Previously known primarily as a composer of

chamber works, Higdon is becoming increasingly associated with the nation's leading orchestras

through prominent commissions and performances. This popularity has produced a significant

need for an academic study of Higdon' s compositional style, methods and appeal to

contemporary audiences and musicians. The composer has not produced nearly the number of

orchestral compositions in comparison to her abundance of chamber works but a comprehensive

analysis of her symphonic works reveal distinguishing compositional traits. bhte cathedral and

Concerto for Orchestra were chosen by this author due to the plethora of performances received

since their respective premieres. Higdon suggested the inclusion of City Scape, her most recent

composition in the genre, to complement the research. Each of the works emerged as

commissions from prestigious ensembles and continues to be performed regularly throughout the

United States. This study focused exclusively on these three compositions with careful detail

dedicated to harmonic and melodic content, instrumentation and unifying devices.

The primary focus of the research was dedicated to defining Higdon' s unique

compositional style. As a contemporary composer, Higdon's forms and harmonic language are

unrestricted; therefore, a traditional harmonic analysis is not applicable. As a result, this author

has elected to locate recurring harmonic trends throughout all three compositions. The

methodology throughout the study reconciles accepted musicological approaches with feminist

research to place great emphasis on the composer' s personal thoughts.

Delving into previously published material on the composer and her works naturally

comprised the preliminary stages of the study. A comprehensive analysis of the individual









works followed with focus on recurring elements in an effort to identify compositional

character sti cs. Simultaneously, examining the originality of the three works was necessary to

confidently label this composer as creative, rather than one who simply adheres to successful

formulae. An interview and continuing written correspondence was essential in providing a

voice for the composer. Higdon's reflections on her thoughts and feelings during the

compositional process are critical to achieving a thorough understanding of her music. The

woman cannot be separated from her music; therefore, a consistent dialogue from the composer

was most advantageous.

Higdon has described herself as an "intuitive" composer in numerous articles and

interviews yet with little explanation of what this means. In articles and interviews with the

composer, this descriptive term surfaces with little supplemental explanation provided. A

portion of this research was dedicated to defining and locating tangible examples in her scores of

this compositional method. If Higdon truly writes intuitively, then it would be unlikely that she

could provide concrete answers to theoretical inquiries about her music, yet a thorough analysis

revealed these aspects clearly. The composer' s reaction to a realization of her compositional

method proved most fascinating.

Studying a living composer provides the likelihood of receiving direct commentary from

the "horse's mouth." Too often in musicological research, questions remain unanswered simply

because one may never state with authority the intention of a deceased composer. Countless

speculation is frequently the result. Because research is compiled decades after a work' s

composition, contemporary accounts are sparse and memories of those with a personal

connection to the subject have proven questionable and erroneous. Access to a living composer










may not supply answers to all questions but personal contact with Higdon offered valuable

insights while providing an opportunity for her voice to be heard.

One particularly fascinating aspect of the study was the identification of cyclical elements

within the multi-movement works. Preliminary research did not disclose such components but

Higdon's intuitive style did reveal such unifying devices. These results provided a more

thorough explanation of her compositional methods.

The primary reason for this study emerged from Higdon's newly acquired fame and as a

result, the review of the literature yields limited results. The Grove Dictionary of2~usic and

Musicians, oft considered to be the authoritative reference, does not mention Higdon in either the

latest printed edition or the online resource. Thus, this author believes that a comprehensive

analysis was necessary to complement the existing material of contemporary American female

composers .

Newspapers and magazines have published numerous articles on Higdon and she

expressed serious concern about the incorrect information that occurs in these sources. Indeed,

during the preliminary research, inaccurate statements were frequent. As such, printed

statements in these resources needed to be verified by the composer. This author aims to present

the authoritative source on Higdon's orchestral music.

Two separate studies have been published recently on her music. It is interesting to note

that in both cases the authors were women. The potential role that gender serves in music

composition has been examined with inconclusive results in current musicological research.

Higdon does not believe that gender factors into her music or her current popularity. This author

chose not to speculate further.









The two published studies in existence were produced to fulfill the requirements of a

Doctor of Musical Arts Degree. Deena K Reedy's A performer 's guide to creating a listening

road nzap: applications to late onl I'ntil'th-century solo flute compositions by American women

composers Joyce M~ekeel and Jennifer Higdon was completed in 2002 at the University of

Nebraska. This author considered Reedy's document insightful in a previous study of Higdon's

flute works. Although only rapid fire was included to represent the composer, the methodology

consisted largely of e-mail correspondence and telephone interviews that produced valuable

primary source material. This study aims to increase accessibility of modern solo flute works to

a broad audience; as such, the concept relates to Higdon's compositional doctrine of

communicating to her listeners. The document does not attempt to define the parameters of

American music or female composers, but the sections dedicated to Higdon's music have proven

helpful .

More recently, Jennifer Higdon: A Stylistic Analysis of Selected Flute and Orchestral

Works by Brenda Rossow Phillips was completed in December 2005 at Arizona State University.

The document includes analysis of Autunan Reflection, Legacy and bhte cathedral. The bhte

cathedral chapter offered extensive commentary on the programmatic aspects of this work but

lacked footnotes and incorporates only minimal references to personal interviews with Higdon.

This author excluded these passages from consideration because unreferenced statements were

unverifiable. In addition, Phillips' study focused on programmatic aspects while previous

research by the present author indicates that Higdon' s compositions are not explicitly

programmatic. Although the bibliography was not extensive, a plethora of primary source

material was a valuable asset.










These two theses represent the entirety of scholarly research dedicated to the music of

Higdon. As of this writing, no additional dissertations were registered that explore her music;

therefore, a pressing need for a serious study remains. It is the hope of this author that academic

institutions will equal the efforts of contemporary musicians in exploring her works. Higdon's

orchestral music has elevated her career and reputation to new heights. The subsequent chapters

explore the primary elements of her music that have captured the attention of musicians and

audiences alike.









CHAPTER 2
JENNIFER HIGDON: BIOGRAPHY, COMPOSITIONAL METHOD AND STYLISTIC
TRAITS

Biography

Jennifer Higdon was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 31, 1962. Six months

later, the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Reared by artistic parents, she explored numerous

creative outlets in her youth, ranging from writing short stories and poetry to experimenting with

eight millimeter claymationl movies with her brother, Andrew. Her father was an instructor at

the Atlanta College of Art while working as a freelance commercial artist.2 At the age of 10,

Higdon' s father and mother, a dabbler in abstract quilting, grew weary of the city's school

system; the family relocated to a 40-acre farm3 in Seymour, Tennessee to be nearer to paternal

and maternal grandparents.4 Although the quality of education was adequate in the Atlanta

Public School System and violence was minimal, the parents believed a rural environment would

benefit the children. The primary factor in the transfer was to be closer to extended family;

indeed, the parents frequently encouraged the Higdon children to visit their grandparents.

(Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) The peaceful nature

and mountains that decorate the countryside of Tennessee provided Higdon with a lasting








SClaymation describes animation of clay figures.--"Claymation" Merriam- Webster Online Dictionary (Accessed
[14 March 2007]) available from http://209.161.33.50/dictionary/claymation Internet.
2 Brenda Rossow Phillips, "Jennifer Higdon: A stylistic analysis of selected flute and orchestral works," (DMA doc,
Arizona State University, 2005), 2.

3Phillips, op. cit., 3.

4Mark Kanny, "Higdon brings energetic works to the city," Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 30 October 2005, Arts and
Entertainment Section, p. E-2.










compositional inspiration. Nature remains an essential aspect in her compositions and in

particular, Higdon states, "I often think a lot of the mountains in all my pieces."

As a child, Higdon was not introduced to western art music but the family encountered a

vast array of culture through experimental films and art exhibits. Such exposure provided an

early orientation in relating her surroundings to visual artistic stimuli.6 A hobby during the

composer' s childhood was photography, an influence initiated by Joel Meyerowitz,7 a friend of

her parents.8 Higdon recalls, "The first photo I ever took was of Joel, sitting on his porch, eating

a peach."9 As a child, Higdon's aspired to writing and according to the composer this passion

significantly impacted her music. She states, "Writing poetry and stories taught me about

rhythm and pacing. For me, musical themes are like the characters in a play."'o Yet few of her

compositions are programmatic.

Higdon's musical influences stem from her counterculture parents who encouraged artistic

expression that led her to question experimentation for its own sake. While still in Atlanta, she

consciously decided the avant-garde was unnecessarily obscure, 11 a philosophy that continues to




5Doug Mason,"Prelude in Tennessee: Grammy Winning Composer had her Musical Beginnings in Blount County,"
Knoxville News-Sentinel, 18 September 2005, sec. E, p.1.

6Renate Brosch, "Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon,"
Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from

http:.//magazin.klassik. com/magazines/template .cfm? SEITE= 1& START= 1& AID= 87 9); Intemnet.

7Meyerowitz (b. 1938), a "street photographer" in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank,
exclusively utilizes color photography.-- Meyerowitz, Joel, "Joel Meyerowitz photographer," (Accessed [1 June
2006]) available from http://www.joelmeyerowitz.com/photography/igah~tl Intemnet.

8Karen Rile, "The Accidental genius," The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006])
available froml I~lllp w\ il i.upenn. edu/gazette/0705/feature01Isidebar. html; Intemnet.
91bid.

10Ibid.

"David Patrick Steams, "Jennifer Higdon," And'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from










affect her compositional output. In an interview with Gramnophone, Higdon humorously agrees

that an aversion to experimental music may originate from an overexposure to modern art in her

childhood that "got all that out of my system."12

A lack of traditional musical training contributes extensively to Higdon' s creative

personality. Higdon states, "My background is completely different than most classical

musicians' backgrounds....myy background is much more similar to most people who grow up in

this country...very, very little Classical, and a lot more of everything else. But because I listened

to the Beatles so much, as well as Simon & Garfunkel, reggae, Rolling Stones, Peter, Paul, and

Mary, bluegrass, and country, I believe that I have to have been influenced by that music."

(Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) According to the

composer, this unorthodox background provided a freedom from compositional systems and

preoccupations. She states, "I tend to work instinctively rather than in standard forms." 13

Higdon's earliest encounter with applied music occurred at age fourteen as a percussionist

in her school's marching band. The composer comments on the rhythmic emphasis, "We

weren't learning to read musical notes in a clef...it was studying rhythm." (Jennifer Higdon,

Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) Rhythmic significance remains

crucial in her compositions and undoubtedly originates from her initial experience as a

percussionist. A year later, 14 Higdon discovered an inexpensive flute in the attic and through a



htl1 \p w\ il .andante.com/article/article. cfm?id= 173 41&highlight= 1&timeline= 1&highlightterms= jenni%2A%/7Chig
do%/2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon: Internet.

'2 Vivien Schweitzer, "Christopher Theofanidis and Jennifer Higdon: Two of a Kind," Gramophone, September
2003, p. Al.

13Andrew Clark, "My preoccupation is writing good music," The Financial Times (London, England) 29 March
2004, p. 17

1 Karen Rile, "The Accidental genius," The Pennsylvania Gazette, Julv/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006])
available froml httpl w\ il it.upenn. edu/gazette/0705/feature01Isidebar. html; Internet.










dated instruction manual began teaching herself. 1 After completing the initial book in the

series, her mother purchased the next three levels and by the end of the year, Higdon became

principal flutist in the high school band. 16 The flute remains her primary instr-ument. She has

recorded her own solo and chamber works for this instrument. 1

Higdon studied only a few months with a flute instructor. In the town of Maryville,

Tennessee, Higdon met Jan Vinci (a former Judith Bentleyls student currently employed at

Skidmore College) who informed her of a summer flute camp at Bowling Green State University

with Bentley on the faculty. After gaining acceptance, Higdon realized that Bentley "was such

an amazing teacher that I knew immediately" 19 this specific environment would produce a

rewarding educational experience.20 This extremely concise period of study exposed her to the

appropriate audition repertoire.21

After completing her secondary education, Higdon began studying with Bentley 22 in 1981

in a flute performance curriculum at Bowling Green State University.23 Although excelling in


15 Higdon recalls that the flute method book she used was the First Division Band M~ethod' Part 1 C Flute. (Jennifer
Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) This pedagogical tool is still in existence and
published by Behrin (ISBN 0769219675).

'6Caren Rile, "The Accidental genius," The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006])
available froml httpl w\ il it.upenn.edu/gazette/0705/feature01Isidebar. html; Intemnet

17 Recordings in which Higdon performs as a flutist include I Virtuosi, Vohone I, ASIN: B00000HYY and
rapid~fire, I Virtuosi-IVR 501, where she collaborates on Steeley Pause, Lullaby and The Jerrrev M hode, and is a
soloist on the cover composition.

1s Bentley is a renowned flute teacher and active performer who spent the majority of her teaching career at Bowling
Green State University.

'ghillips, op. cit., 3-4.

"0Ibid.

21 David Patrick Steams, "Jennifer Higdon," 4nd'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
lit \p w\ ilandante.com/article/article. cfm?id= 173 41&highlight= 1&timeline= 1&highlightterms= jenni%2A%/7Chig
do%/2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon: Intemnet.

22 wvwvjenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]).










lessons, Higdon felt insecure in the core musical knowledge due to her minimal exposure to art

music. She remarks, "I had no idea what theory was, I had no idea what an interval was. I didn't

know what a major chord was. I was starting at the bottom. The entire time I was studying, I

felt I was catching up. The other kids came in knowing the Beethoven symphonies. I didn't.

Talking to students today (at Curtis), I'm shocked at what I didn't know."24 She continues, "I

had to take theory for dummies and learn what an interval is...I didn't grow up around classical

music and I'm sure that has influenced my choices in musical language and also my love for

melody."25

While at BGSU, a favorite orchestral composition was Maurice Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe,

a ballet commissioned by Sergey Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes in 1909. Higdon recalls, "I'll

never forget that feeling of the music flowing around us."26 She did not perform the solo in the

Ravel during her collegiate tenure but as Composer-in-residence at the Bard Conductors'

Institute in 2003, Higdon received another opportunity. "The person who was playing first flute

in the orchestra was also one of the conducting students and she was supposed to conduct a little

segment of the Ravel. So they asked me if I would sit in and read it. Now, I hadn't played in an

orchestra since Bowling Green and I had not looked at that solo since then."27 The solo was

successful28 and illustrates Higdon's continuing commitment to performance.


23 Andrew Clark, "My preoccupation is writing good music," The Financial Times (London, England) 29 March
2004, p. 17.
24Ibid.

25 Michael Anthony, "Composing an ode to the oboe; Prolific composer Jennifer Higdon muses on writing her latest
concerto, a premiere by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra."--Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), 24 September 2005,
Sunday, Metro Edition, p. 2F.

26Andrew Quint, "Speaking with Composer Jennifer Higdon: The Communication Thing," Fanfare, May/June
2004, p. 42-45.
27Ibid.

28Ibid.










Higdon's initial exposure to composition originated from Bentley who proposed the young

student write a work for a masterclass with flutist/composer Harvey Sollberger.29 Bentley

explained the 12 tone method30 and the resulting two-minute piece for flute and piano was titled

Night Creatures.31 Higdon remarks on her budding compositional interest, "I found it

fascinating to put sound together. I don't know why that hadn't occurred to me before. I could

tell that was something I was going to be doing down the road."32

During Higdon's second year at BGSU, the university replaced the quarter system with

semesters. Several courses previously studied by Higdon were eliminated and supplemental

courses were not offered at the time which prevented her from graduating in four years. In the

interim, she attempted to satiate her budding interest for composition by petitioning to register

for composition courses but was rej ected because the classes were restricted to maj ors.33

Robert Spano became a conductor at BGSU during Higdon's final year. She requested and

received permission to participate in his graduate conducting course. A meeting with Spano

facilitated Higdon's transition from performer to composer. The conductor urged her to pursue

studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.34 Throughout this period,



29 Michael Anthony, "Composing an ode to the oboe; Prolific composer Jennifer Higdon muses on writing her latest
concerto, a premiere by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra."-Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), 24 September 2005,
Sunday, Metro Edition, p 2F.

30 Andrew Clark, "My preoccupation is writing good music," The Financial Times (London, England) 29 March
2004, p. 17.

31CUTiously, Higdon's first composition was serialistic while her current harmonic idiom contrasts considerably and
is frequently labeled neo-romantic.

32 Michael Anthony, "Composing an ode to the oboe; Prolific composer Jennifer Higdon muses on writing her latest
concerto, a premiere by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra."-Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), 24 September 2005,
Sunday, Metro Edition, p 2F.

33Phillips, op. cit., 5-7.

34Mark Kanny, "Higdon brings energetic works to the city," Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 30 October 2005, Arts and
Entertainment Section, p. E-2.









she continued composing but did not share her efforts with anyone. Eventually, she comprised a

portfolio of four to five compositions for graduate submissions35 and was accepted to several

prestigious institutions including the Juilliard School, Curtis and the University of Michigan.

Seeking counsel, she solicited Spano's advice. A Curtis graduate, Spano believed an Artist

Diploma from Curtis would produce the best results and was so adamant that he locked her in his

office until she agreed.36

Higdon encountered numerous obstacles on her journey through graduate school. After

receiving a Diploma from Curtis,37 She was rej ected twice from the University of Pennsylvania

but studied free of charge with Jay Reise. Reise offered her encouragement and with her third

attempt, she gained admission and completed a Master of Arts Degree in composition.38

Higdon's lack of early training created a significant hurdle during her doctoral qualifying exams.

She remarks, "Since I grew up on rock and roll, I just don't know this stuff. Getting through the

doctoral exams for me was a nightmare. I took them a lot."39 Her initial doctoral thesis was

rej ected40 and Higdon recalls, "There were members of my doctoral committee who claimed that

I was having too much success. I didn't fit the box of what they were expecting." (Jennifer

Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) Her second effort, a string





35Phillips, op. cit., 5-7.
36Ibid.

37Www.jenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]).

38Karen Rile, "The Accidental genius," The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006])
available flolll htp tll \\ \.upenn.edu/gazette/0705/feature01Isidebar. html; Internet.

39Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

40Karen Rile, "The Accidental genius," The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006])
available flolll htp tll \\ \.upenn. edu/gazette/0705/feature01Isidebar. html; Internet.










quartet entitled Voices,41 COmmissioned by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, 42 was

successful which resulted in the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Her principal composition instructor at the University of Pennsylvania was George

Crumb43 whom she credits with teaching her to listen effectively. A personal connection

between student and professor stemmed from their similar backgrounds in rural America (Crumb

was reared in West Virginia).44 Similar to Crumb, Higdon finds great inspiration in the beauty

of nature.

Higdon's first orchestral work, shinell (1995),45 greatly furthered her career. The

composition was the result of a grant for young composers by ASCAP to compose their first

symphonic work; it was written specifically for conductor James De Preist and the Oregon

Symphony.46 Higdon submitted shinell to the Philadelphia Orchestra as a representative example

of her work. The result was the commissioning of Concerto for Orchestra, the composition that

propelled her to international fame.

As a female composer, Higdon is often consulted regarding the role of women in this

historically male-dominated field. As the first American female composer featured at the

Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood, MA,47 She has transcended the gender barrier.

Scholars have been captivated recently by the potential contrasts between "women's music" and

41Phillips, op. cit., 10.

42Karen Rile, "The Accidental genius," The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006])
available froml Ilulp w\ il it.upenn. edu/gazette/0705/feature01Isidebar. html; Internet.

\ \\ \ .jenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]).

44Wes Blomster, "Jennifer Higdon's New Piano Trio," MusicalAmerica.com, July 18, 2003.

45 http://jenniferhigdon. com/orchestra. html (Acce ssed 12 [January 2007]).

46Richard Dyer, "Composer has Emotional Reach, Direct Appeal Jennifer Higdon Touches Many with her Work,"
The Boston Globe, 13 July 2003, Sec. Arts/Entertainment, p. N.4.

47Www.jenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]).










the rarely termed "men's music." Higdon rejects such differences and remarked, "That was a

topic when I was a student at the University... because all the musicologists there thought that

way (that music reflected gender), and us composers would roll our eyes."'48 "It was a collective

eye roll by all of the composition students to all of the musicology students." (Jennifer Higdon,

Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) Higdon denies any experience with

gender discrimination and credits composers from the previous generation, specifically Joan

Tower and Libby Larsen, with eradicating the gender barrier that has plagued composition.49

Audience members occasionally express surprise that a female could be capable of writing "that

kind of music." Higdon interprets "that kind of music" as energetic with a prevailing rhythmic

component. 5o Women's role in music does remain a concern to Higdon. An open-minded

individual, she encourages gender discussion and continues a curiosity about the perceptions of

men and women. Understandably, her particular interest is in composition and performance."

Although gender barriers have not affected Higdon, she encountered a negative experience

relating to her sexuality. She contributed to a compact disc recording of Lesbian American

Composers52 that was marketed with a picture of two nude women embracing. Higdon was

troubled because the photograph did not adequately illustrate the musical content. She states, "It



48 Michael Anthony, "Composing an ode to the oboe; Prolific composer Jennifer Higdon muses on writing her latest
concerto, a premiere by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra."-Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), 24 September 2005,
Sunday, Metro Edition, p. 2F.

49enate Brosch, "Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon,
Ahtikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from
http:.//magazin.klassik. com/magazines/template .cfm? SEITE= 1& START= 1& AID= 87 9); Intemnet.
50Ibid.

51Renate Brosch, "Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon,
Ahtikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from
http:.//magazin.klassik. com/magazines/template .cfm? SEITE= 1& START= 1& AID= 87 9); Intemnet.

52The CD is titled Lesbian 4merican Composers and was recorded by CRI with the manufacture number CD 780
CRI. Other composers featured on the album include Pauline Oliveros, Linda Montano and Madelyn Bymne.










looks like it' s going to be relaxing and the music is anything but. The cover bothered all of us

(composers)-we all registered strong objections. But we didn't have the Einal say."53 Although

the gender/queer discrimination has weakened considerably, the marketing of this recording of

women's music as unsophisticated, background music to romantic evenings remains

troublesome. For Higdon, and undoubtedly many others, this is a gross misrepresentation of

"women's music."

Many composers resist national stereotypes. The United States in particular has str-uggled

with defining elements in music that may be classified as "American." Higdon is uncertain of

what comprises an "American" composition due to the various styles present within the

country.54 She does not encourage such labels.

Openly questioning labels such as "American," "female" or "lesbian" reflects a significant

element of third-wave feminism defined by the battle cry of "don't label me." When asked,

Higdon provided a surprising response, "I've never heard of a third-wave feminist, and am not

sure what this is. I know that I'm American,... female and lesbian. But I don't actually know of

any composers who think of themselves as anything but a composer. The labels seem to be

applied by lots of other people. Fortunately for me, there was never a time when my parents told

me that I couldn't do something because I was a woman or a lesbian. The thought never even

occurred to me and the first time someone brought it up, it was a very foreign concept."

(Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) (Higdon has been



5David Patrick Steams, "Jennifer Higdon," 4nd'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
bli wilit andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=17341hglht&imin=hglgtersjn%2 7Cg
do%/2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon: Intemnet.

5Renate Brosch, "Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon,
Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from
http:.//magazin.klassik. com/magazines/template .cfm? SEITE= 1& START= 1& AID= 87 9); Intemnet.










with her lifetime companion, Cheryl Lawson, since high school). (Jennifer Higdon, Pers.

Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006)

Disregarding her gender, sexuality and nationality, "mystical" is an applicable description

of many of her orchestral works that is primarily achieved through heterodox instrumentation

such as the water gong, Chinese health reflex bells and crystal glasses. Although not associated

with any particular religion, Higdon describes herself as a spiritual person with a strong

knowledge gleaned from examining numerous literary accounts on the subj ect. 5

Higdon currently spends between four to six hours composing daily with the remaining

time dedicated to the business aspects of the profession. A member of the faculty at Curtis since

1994, 56 her duties have consisted of instructing courses in theory, counterpoint, solfege and

serving as a private tutor. She recalls with fondness her 20th century music history/theory course

required of all students that afforded her the opportunity to become acquainted with each pupil.

Once her composition career blossomed in 2002, she reduced her responsibilities at Curtis.

(Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) At the present time,

she teaches only private composition lessons." Higdon's teaching philosophy encourages

students to follow their intuitions with no restrictions on their musical language. Instead, she

provides "them (with) tools to write in the way they want and need to write."' Her advice to her

students to follow their intuition is an approach she employs in her own compositions.


55David Patrick Stearns, "Jennifer Higdon," 4nd'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
b1lip wilit\\.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=17341hglht&imin=hglgtersjn%2 7Cg
do%/2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon: Internet.

56 Phillips, op. cit., 10.

5 Doug Mason,"Prelude in Tennessee: Grammy Winning Composer had her Musical Beginnings in Blount
County," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 18 September 2005, sec. E, p.1.

58Vivien Schweitzer, "Christopher Theofanidis and Jennifer Higdon: Two of a Kind," Gramophone, September
2003, p. Al.










Audience appeal remains a significant aspect ofHigdon's compositional philosophy. As a

composer, she believes accountability to her audience is justified. She states, "I feel a

responsibility to be articulate in the music and not waste their time."59 She consciously avoids

composing systematically and says, "I write intuitively. The academic approach just doesn't

work with my brain."60 As an avid listener to the Beatles in her youth, she relates with audiences

from that generation. Higdon is conscious of music such listeners are likely to enj oy. She

remarks on the similarities to the music of her childhood and her own compositions, "What do

the...types of music have in common? Melody, Rhythm, Harmony. What they don't have in

common...there isn't an exclusivity between either genre, but usually musical events (and the

speed in which they unfold) run at different speeds. In terms of writing for a broader audience...I

don't think I have more understanding than any other composer. Music is communication.

Otherwise, I don't see the point." (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25

November 2006)

Higdon remains one of the few self-supporting composers through direct commissions and

possesses a keen business sense. As a youth, her father encouraged her to "always question

authority" and instilled an enterprising spirit to publish her work. 61 This was further encouraged

by American composer Philip Glass who advised her to maintain copyright privileges to enable







54Lark Kanny, "Higdon brings energetic works to the city," Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 30 October 2005, Arts and
Entertainment Section, p. E-2.
61)Ibid.

61David Patrick Stearns, "Jennifer Higdon," 4nd'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
bli wilit andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=17341hglht&imin=hglgtersjn%2 7Cg
do%/2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon: Internet.










rapid processing that is less expensive to perspective performers.62 The result is Lawdon Press,

Higdon's personal publishing company. The name originates from the amalgamation of Cheryl

Lawson and the composer. Lawson, a former event planner for medical associations, left her

career to manage the publishing company in 2005.63

Since Higdon's beginnings in composition, she has received commissions from the most

prestigious ensembles and performers to grace the symphony halls and concert stages, including

the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Pittsburgh

Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, the Tokyo String

Quartet and the American Guild of Organists. A commission by the National Symphony

Orchestra for a Piano Concerto to be premiered May 17-19 2007 was temporarily delayed,64 but

a violin concerto from the Indianapolis Symphony with Hilary Hahn is scheduled for the 2008-

09 season.65 In addition, Higdon has received numerous awards and grants from the

Guggenheim Foundation, two from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Pew

Fellowship in the Arts, as well as those from Meet-the-Composer, National Endowment for the

Arts, International League of Women Composers, Louisville Orchestra New Music Search,

ASCAP, the Mary Flagler Charitable Trust Grant and the Pennsylvania Council on Arts.66



62Renate Brosch "Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon,"
Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from
http:.//magazin.klassik. com/magazines/template .cfm? SEITE= 1& START= 1& AID= 87 9); Intemnet.

63Doug Mason,"Prelude in Tennessee: Grammy Winning Composer had her Musical Beginnings in Blount
County," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 18 September 2005, sec. E, p.1.

64 Wwwwjenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]). The premiere was postponed due to artistic
differences between the composer and the originally scheduled pianist, Lang Lang. Higdon is searching for a
different pianist for an upcoming, but as of yet, unscheduled, premiere.

65Karen Rile, "The Accidental genius," The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006])
available flolll htp tll \\ \.upenn. edu/gazette/0705/feature01Isidebar. html; Intemnet.

66Karen Rile, "The Accidental genius," The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006])
available flolll htp tll \\ \.upenn. edu/gazette/0705/feature01Isidebar. html; Intemnet.










Higdon' s music enj oys international success with performances numbering more than a

hundred per year. blue cathedral, a one-movement symphonic poem, received more than fifty

performances in the United States in the 2004-05 season, and remains the most performed

contemporary symphonic work in the United States. The composition was recorded on the

Telarc label in 2003 with the Atlanta Symphony led by Spano. Since its release, the recording

has garnered a prominent place on the Classical Billboard Charts. A more recent endeavor,

Higdon: Concerto for Ouban Cll\ll(ity Scape, was nominated for four Grammy Awards67 ing

in the category of Best Engineered Album, Classical.

Recordings of her music by various performers exist on several labels. Postcards from the

Center, featuring the Moran Quartet, recorded Autumn M~usic for Crystal Records (CD754),

Autumn Reflection performed by Jeffrey Khaner appears in American Flute M~usic, Avie-AVI

0004.68

Compositional Method

Higdon's self-described method of composition is frequently defined as intuitive; however,

additional commentary is necessary to further explain this meaning. In the subsequent chapters,

the term "intuitive" is used regularly by the composer to justify specific musical occurrences.

The precise definition of this term is "the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or

cognition without evident rational thought and inference."69 Although Higdon's childhood

included little western art music, throughout years of study, she has gained a solid education of

classical music. Yet to infer that her music emerges without "rational thought" would be



u\ \\ \\.jenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]).

68 http://jenniferhigdon.com/rec-title.html (Accessed [4 June 2006]).

69 Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, "intuition," (Accessed [16 June 20067]), w.com/dictionary/intuition>










misleading since she spends much time in thought before she composes. Whether or not

"intuitive" is the grammatically correct term for her process, it is the word she uses to describe

her approach.

Higdon is capable of composition at a rapid speed that suggests musical ideas are

occurring almost immediately. She states, "I'll spend more hours (writing) than an average

composer but because it' s happening at a faster and a shorter time frame, it means a lot of these

things have to happen instinctively. I don't come up with systems; I think things are happening

at a subconscious level."'o While reviewing the results of this document, her response was often

genuine surprise followed by acceptance. The composer attributed many of these Eindings to her

intuitive approach and she believes such events accurately illustrate her subconscious at work.

She remarked, "I think actually what happens is (when) I start working on a piece, I'll do a lot of

sketching, my brain will put these elements together and I don't know they're there. I don't

realize it even, it just comes out."7

Higdon begins a work with the first forthcoming melodic idea72which scarcely occurs in

the opening measures. In the multi-movement works, the interior movements were composed

initially while in blue cathedral the process originated with the soli in the central sections. Her

latest work, a Piano Concerto, conformed to a similar process; Higdon composed the second and

third movements first. According to the composer, anxiety is the underlying principle for writing

the opening movement last. She places much emphasis on the significance of an initial







70Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
71Ibid.

72Ibid.










movement. Higdon remains somewhat nervous that the first movement, if not composed

correctly, may spoil the remainder of the work. 73

She composes consistently each day, but the speed in which she produces music varies

depending on the time allocated by the commission. Concerto for Orchestra was written over

several years while in contrast, the first movement of City Scape emerged in only fiye days. In

the latter, the ideas were appearing so quickly and fully formed that she notated the music in

short score (6 lines rather than the full 30) and later orchestrated it.74 This exceedingly rapid

pace of composition is more often the exception rather than the rule with Higdon.

Her recent fame affords her the luxury of composing only by commission. While

contemplating the works, she considers the strengths and capabilities of the premiering

ensembles. For the three compositions included in this document, Higdon was especially

intimate with the premiering orchestras; thus, she wrote with the specific ensembles in mind.

Aesthetic aims vary considerably for each composition. Although bhte cathedral and

Concerto for Orchestra were both commissioned as celebrations, the expressive obj ectives were

quite different. bhte cathedral is the sole orchestral work in which the composer used imagery

or representation. The music is not explicitly programmatic but during the compositional

process, Higdon utilized imagery for the differing sections. Program notes and previous research

reveals a fairly detailed programmatic content, yet she states that the only explicit referential

aspects of the music are limited to the woodwind soli that portray the composer and her

brother." These features are explored in greater detail in Chapter Three.



7Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

7Pierre Ruhe, "Symphony illuminates soul of city," 4tlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS,
p. 1M.
75Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










Concerto for Orchestra was composed specifically for the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Higdon's past and current ties to the city are strong; she resides there currently, attended

graduate school in Philadelphia and is a member of the Curtis faculty. As such, she is familiar

with many of the individual musicians in the ensemble. Several features of the work resulted

from these personal ties including specific instrumental soli and the orchestration of the fourth

movement exclusively for percussion. The work celebrates the Philadelphia Orchestra and

serves as virtuosic vehicle for the ensemble. The plain title of the work, according to Higdon,

emerged because the music was composed specifically for that orchestra and no other label

seemed fitting.76 The name may appear somewhat unusual since she often opts for poetic and

descriptive titles. Her solo concert, however, utilize similar labels (for example Oboe Concerto,

Percussion Concerto, Piano Concerto and Trombone Concerto). As a concerto, this title adheres

to the trend present in her works of a similar genre.

The primary obj ective of City Scape is to serve as a musical tribute to Atlanta, where

Higdon spent her early childhood years. Higdon portrays the diversity and splendor found

within the city. In doing so, she concentrates mostly on the features of Atlanta that she

remembers from her youth thus providing the work with a personal element.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Higdon' s fame is her previously limited exposure to

western art music. Although this may have been problematic during her schooling, it has not

influenced her career. Because of her self-admitted lack of experience with the standard canon,

quotations and references to other composers and their music is nonexistent. A lack of formal

training until her collegiate years has resulted in a complete avoidance of systems during the



76Renate Brosch, "Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon,
Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from
http:.//magazin.klassik. com/magazines/template .cfm? SEITE= 1& START= 1& AID= 87 9); Internet.










compositional process; indeed, nearly all of her works emerge from an exploration of sound.

She remarks, "I had too many systems taught to me at school and I couldn't stand it."7 The "j oy

of sound"'" is frequently her rationale for compositional curiosities in her music.

Higdon does not compose with key centers in mind. When a tonality emerges, she

explains it as a manifestation of her subconscious.79 Particularly noteworthy is the continuous

appearance of D maj or in the three orchestral works examined. Higdon did not consciously

choose that tonality but after reviewing the numerous examples, she realized it does occur

frequently but, again, she emphasized that it was not a conscious decision.so In the past, this

particular key has been associated with rej oicing and triumph or in the case of Brahms' Second

Symphony, "sunny." This author suggests that passages in D major in Higdon's music reflect her

warm and friendly personality, a quality often remarked on by those whom have come in contact

with her.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of her intuitive style is the subtle, yet consistent,

appearance of unifying devices. Higdon continually stated that such occurrences were not

intentional and in several examples, she was not aware of these musical connections. Yet,

separate rhythmic and melodic motives permeate individual movements. That such connections

were not purposely included leads one to presume that Higdon' s subconscious is truly

responsible.

An isolated example of her intuitive style affecting formal structure is present in the

Concerto for Orchestra, an arch form that peaks in the third movement. Higdon did not


7Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
7Ibid.

791bid.

solbid.









conceptualize the work as such; in fact, only four movements were initially planned.8 The

second and fourth movements are scored exclusively for strings and percussion respectively. A

connection in reduced instrumentation between these movements is evident and provides an even

stronger link to the arch form that emerged subconsciously. One may conjecture that this is

simply a coincidence since the composer did not intentionally plan the movements to serve as

complements to one another. Yet because Higdon attributes unifying rhythmic and melodic

factors to her intuitive style, it seems likely that formal structure would also materialize in this

manner. In addition to this self-defined aspect of her compositional method, stylistic elements

are present in each work. Because such characteristics appear consistently in all three

compositions, a brief discussion devoted to her traits may prove helpful to the reader before a

comprehensive analysis can be grasped fully.

Stylistic Traits

Harmony

Higdon does not utilize functional harmony, but she incorporates aspects of the Common

Practice Period to create her own harmonic idiom. The most prominent feature of her musical

language is the consistent use of perfect fifths that, according to the composer, evolved from the

employment of maj or chords in her earlier works. Removing the third emerged from a desire to

explore the possibilities within these sounds. bhte cathedral was the first composition to

consistently use perfect fifth intervals,82 a characteristic that appears frequently in her subsequent

orchestral works. Higdon's parallel fifths generally appear as accompanimental material

orchestrated for the lower strings or horns that present sustained harmonies or a progression

siJennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
8Ibid.









moving in stepwise motion. Perfect fourths, an inversion of fifths, occur less prominently, yet

several sections are comprised of these quartal harmonies. Passages utilizing such harmonies are

fleeting but without question, are directly related to Higdon' s use of the perfect fifth.

As Higdon remarked, the employment of the perfect fifth interval stems from her earlier

use of maj or chords, which maintain a significant role in her harmonic language. Like the fifths,

the sonorities may be static or move in stepwise motion. When utilizing sustained harmonies,

the chords appear frequently in root position. To orchestrate these sections, Higdon divides a

single instrumental group into three lines, supplying each with a note of the chord. This scoring

occurs in the lower strings with particular emphasis on the violas. Due to a lack of traditional

harmony, this researcher is hesitant to use the term "harmonic rhythm," but the rate of chord

changes in these passages is frequently quite slow.

Higdon occasionally varies the maj or chords through modal mixture that provide an

emotionally ambiguous sound.83 She finds this process "fascinating" and has begun to explore it

only recently in the past several years.84 A recent discovery by this composer, it is likely that her

subsequent works will explore this avenue further.

Maj or chords do not only serve as accompanimental material in Higdon' s music.

Numerous examples abound with melodic scoring for three trumpets utilizing these sonorities

that provide a stark difference in timbre from the warm lower strings' accompanimental

sustained harmonies. When the composer employs these chords for melodic purposes, the speed

of the progression is greatly increased.



83Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006
84Ibid.










Higdon' s earliest compositions explore juxtaposition of maj or chords. This feature

continues to appear in the mature works to produce brief bitonal passages. These chords,

separated by a major second, create tension that counters the consonant sections built on perfect

fifths.



Although Higdon' s harmonic idiom places great emphasis on fifths and maj or chords,

maj or and minor seconds comprise an integral aspect of her musical language as well. Ostinato

patterns frequently alternate rapidly between these intervals to produce dissonance. Similar to

the bitonal sections, this tension is released upon the return to harmonic material derived from

fifths.

While the composer does not utilize traditional chord progressions, her harmonic language

stems from the Common Practice Period. Dominant to tonic progressions, although quite rare,

do appear and provide a sense of familiarity to audiences. Glimpses of this tradition possibly

offer connections to listeners acquainted with the standard orchestral repertoire. As Higdon has

stated numerous times, communication to her audiences remains a primary obj ective in her

music and such links to the past are a likely reason her music remains popular.



Melody

Higdon consistently incorporates several melodic devices that may be labeled

compositional traits. Most prevalent is the abundant lyrical soli for various instruments that

display colorful orchestration. In these passages, less standard instruments, such as the English

horn and the bass clarinet, are featured. While several examples present expansive, lyrical

melodies, other soli are greatly truncated and are, in fact, quite short. Regardless of length, many

of the solo sections present motivic material that is featured subsequently throughout the









remainder of the composition. This melodic recall of motives is an essential tool to unifying the

works.

The composer's melodies generally encompass a small range and, at times, are limited to a

perfect fifth. Instrumental lines utilizing a broader range incorporate leaps using this same

interval. Ascending lines are accompanied frequently by a gradual crescendo that culminates in

a fortissimo dynamic marking. The result is a building of tension as the music rises in pitch and

volume that is subsequently relaxed by the melodic descents and decrescendi that consistently

follow. Because Higdon's melodies are generally comprised of consonant intervals, tension and

release is achieved through the rising and falling pitches and dynamics.

Often, only one theme is featured at a time and is clearly audible above the entire

ensemble. Isolated exceptions display a countermelody, but these secondary lines never interfere

with the principal melody.



Rhythm

Higdon places significant emphasis on rhythmic motives that frequently function as a

unifying device. Their appearances are subtle and not always audible in full ensemble passages;

indeed, few music critics have commented on their existence. Although the patterns appear

consistently in the same instrumentation, their return may be truncated or otherwise manipulated.

Consistent repetition and rapid overlapping of these motives create intensity in the music and

complexity in the texture. It is important to note that these motives may be imbedded within the

melodic line to permeate the theme with a vibrant rhythmic aspect.

Less common are syncopations and accents. Syncopations may occur in accompanimental

material to provide an understated urgency beneath the dominant melody. In contrast, accents










are habitually presented in the melodic line during returning passages to supply variety in

rhythm.

In full ensemble passages, rushing sixteenth notes, combined with a gradual crescendo,

create a powerful intensity that culminates in a fortissimo dynamic marking. The tension is

subsequently released through a decrescendo and substantially slower note values. On the other

side of the coin, a strong rhythmic drive is absent throughout the chamber-like sections that

results in a sensation of improvisation.

Meter changes are a rarity in Higdon's music. When present, however, they represent

significant musical passages that feature a section of the orchestra. Consistently alternating

meters create an extended period of metrical flux that contributes to a sense of unpredictability.



Texture

Varying the musical texture to create diversity in the sound is a method employed by many

composers. Higdon utilizes this technique as well. Her polyphonic passages often exhibit fugal

qualities with overlapping layers of imitation entering at rapid intervals. These sections are

frequently paired with a crescendo to generate musical intensity. During the loudest dynamic

marking, Higdon exchanges the texture to homophony that releases this tension. An essential

aspect of her texture is the basso ostinati that function as unifying devices. This compositional

tool is used primarily in polyphonic passages and may become a catalyst for imitation.

Prominent solo passages are accompanied by a sparse texture. As the solo nears its

conclusion, Higdon gradually increases the instrumentation. The result is a steady amplification

of volume that enhances anticipation. In the opposite manner, following full ensemble passages,

the texture and dynamics decrease to release the tension.










The composer has invented a phrase to define a phenomenon present in bhte cathedral.

"Counterpoint of textures" refers to two independent musical lines progressing at different

speeds."' Although not present in her immediately subsequent works, it is possible that the

technique will resurface in later compositions.

Orchestration

An appealing factor of Higdon's music lies in her colorful orchestration. The three works

included in this research contain similar instrumentation that resembles a late nineteenth-century

ensemble with the exception of the greatly expanded percussion. She provides not only

significant rhythmic material for this section, but also melodic themes, a fairly novel idea with

roots in the early twentieth-century.

Higdon notates solo lines for a vast array of instrumental timbres. In several examples,

melodic lines are doubled by instr-uments with contrasting colors, such as piccolo and trumpet or

oboe and trombones. Ensemble passages also utilize expansive doublings to balance the

diminutive chamber-like sound present during instrumental soli. Melodic material performed by

a solitary instr-ument utilizes less orthodox instruments. In doing so, Higdon contributes

significantly to the melodic possibilities of these instruments while simultaneously

experimenting with the "joy of sound."

One particularly noteworthy aspect of Higdon' s orchestration is presented in the unusual

scoring of string soli. Rather than notating a violin solo for the concertmaster, she provides parts

for the assistant concertmaster or the first desk of a section. Higdon believes that second

violinists are equally talented86 and subsequently, she has distributed solo violin lines


8Brenda Rossow Phillips, "Jennifer Higdon: A stylistic analysis of selected flute and orchestral works," (DMA
doc., Arizona State University, 2005), 72.

86Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.









accordingly. The result is a string sound that emerges out of the depths of the ensemble. In City

Scape, the composer expands this technique further to include only half of a section. These

unique orchestrations are essential to her sound. It is possible that this heterodox scoring endears

the composer to those musicians who normally do not receive such opportunities.

The string instrumentation in the accompanying material is likewise significant. The maj or

chords that comprise Higdon's harmonies are divided among the lower strings (viola and celli

particularly) with each section sustaining a pitch of the triad. This lush and warm sound

permeates each of the orchestral works and maintains a prominent position within a discussion of

her compositional style.

Higdon would never be described as an avant-garde composer, but experimental qualities

are present in her orchestration. Prepared piano, water gong, Chinese health reflex bells and

water glasses are employed subtly to evoke ethereal atmospheres. This heterodox orchestration

is included only to create a specific mood.

Previous musical material is frequently recalled and although the returning passage is

instantly recognizable, the orchestral color is varied to simultaneously create repetition and

contrast. The composer' s penchant for changing the symphonic timbre remains one of her most

intriguing qualities. The subsequent instrumentation utilized is neither predictable nor pedantic.



Forms

Higdon rarely adheres to strict formal structures; her works are best described as

"sectional." Accelerandi and ritardda~ndi frequently introduce a new section that results in a

contrasting tempo and mood. She generally avoids specific musical markings or directions to

indicate distinctive qualities of the subsequent passage. An alternate tempo does not necessarily










indicate separate musical content, of course, but with this composer, this is often the case. Upon

the commencement of a new section, the texture, dynamics and mood vary substantially.

Codas play a significant role within each composition. In blue cathedral, Higdon

concludes the work with essential numerical references to herself and her brother that provide a

deeply personal aspect. In doing so, this ending contains great meaning rather than functioning

solely as a cadential extension.

The multi-movement works adhere to various structures and forms. The Concerto for

Orchestra is in five movements that utilizes an arch form. The second and fourth movements are

scored exclusively for strings and percussion respectively. Curiously, the fourth movement

begins with the percussionists playing their instruments with a bow, a musical aspect commonly

associated with strings. Higdon did not intentionally compose these movements to balance the

form and later, she suggested her subconscious was responsible."

The opening and third movement are scored for the entire ensemble (as is the Einale

discussed below). These two movements are sectional and separated by passages between the

full orchestra and those featuring individual soli or sections of the orchestra. The first movement

contains characteristics similar to sonata allegro form yet does not adhere strictly to the

definition of that term; therefore, it is best described as sectional.

In the liner notes to the recording, Nick Jones describes the second movement as a

scherzo.88 A detailed commentary in Chapter Four examines this statement, but without

question, the Einal result is a ternary str-ucture. Although Higdon did not originally conceive the

movement as a scherzo, she purposely included a contrasting central section that adheres to


8Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

"Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.










ternary form. The second movement provides the singular example in Concerto for Orchestra of

a traditional structure inherited from the Viennese Classicists.

The Einale, performed attacca, functions as a coda to the entire work. Previous musical

material is recalled throughout this movement to bring the composition full circle. Codas in

Higdon's works are extremely significant and in the Concerto for Orchestra, the Einal movement

provides a summation of all the essential musical content presented in the preceding movements.

The Einal movement of City Scape also adheres to a traditional form; however, the decision

was dictated by the commissioning ensemble. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra stipulated that

the third movement, Peachtree Street, serve as an example of form for school children. Higdon

opted for a rondo, yet she strays somewhat from formal parameters. Upon subsequent

presentations of the primary theme, she does not state it identically to the original. Only the

Einale of City Scape contained such a specification. For the opening two movements, the

composer employed sectionalized forms.

Higdon' s melodic recall is realized through the return of large sections of the movement.

By incorporating new material with the melodic return, she provides repetition and contrast

simultaneously. This abundant employment of melodic recall remains a pivotal element of her

formal structure.



Program vs. Absolute Music

Titles for bhte cathedral and City Scape suggest a programmatic element that may be

misleading. Neither of the works contains an explicit storyline. During the composition of bhte

cathedral, Higdon used images that facilitated the writing, but initially, performances of the

work did not necessarily include programmatic explanation in the notes. After these images

became public knowledge, the pictorial content was consistently shared with the audience.










Previous research has attempted to locate these events in the music, but the composer has not

divulged this information; therefore, such designations remain only speculative. Listening to the

work in conjunction with this now well-known imagery, one can easily make assumptions about

the whereabouts of these episodes in the score. Yet, without definitive authority from the

composer, the task remains an exercise in imagination. Higdon believes the music speaks for

itself and with or without the program, audiences react similarly. She maintains that

representation in the music is limited strictly to the clarinet and flute soli to depict her brother

and herself. 89

City Scape portrays no explicitly programmatic content despite the colorful titles of all

three movements. The work is simply Higdon' s musical portrait of Atlanta and exhibits her

feelings about the city. The expressive obj ects of the individual movements are explored in

greater detail in Chapter Five.

Concerto for Orchestra is purely absolute music. Commissioned by the Philadelphia

Orchestra, the work contains solo passages composed for specific members of the ensemble.

While composing, Higdon imagined the musicians' faces.90 Since its premiere, the work has

gained additional exposure and while audiences may have no knowledge about the premiering

instrumentalists, these aspects were integral to the work' s conception.



Unifying Devices

Motivic material, introduced previously in a work, reappears throughout the various

sections to unify the music. In bhte cathedral, the perfect fifths in the accompaniment provide a



89Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
91)Ibid.










basis for changes in orchestral color and mood. Concerto for Orchestra and City Scape employ

melodic and rhythmic motives in the individual movements to strengthen the compositions as

one complete work. These patterns are originally presented as ostinati, but are later expanded

and manipulated in each movement. Several of these examples were unknown to the composer

and Higdon was surprised by the research. She believes these occurrences are realizations of her

intuitive compositional method.91 Specific motives are discussed in greater length in Chapters

Four and Five.



Conclusion

Higdon's lack of early music training is untraditional for a composer who has reached her

level of fame. This author believes that her unique style stems from this more common

upbringing. In this document, the reader will notice that direct quotations by Higdon are filled

with idiomatic expressions and simplified language. The ease and comfort she maintains with

the public is transmitted in her music and has likely contributed to her popularity amongst

listeners and audiences. Although a genuine person, she should not be mistaken as simple nor

should her compositions. This author firmly believes that Higdon contributes significantly to the

symphonic canon of American composers.














91Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










CHAPTER 3
BLUE CATHEDRAL

Jennifer Higdon's one movement orchestral tone poem, blue cathedral, was the

composition that launched her into recent orchestral fame. According to the American

Symphony Orchestra League, blue cathedral is performed more frequently than any other

contemporary symphonic work in the United States.92 COmmissioned for the Curtis Institute of

Music's 75th Anniversary, the composition was premiered under conductor Robert Spano with

the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 1, 2000.93 In Only a few

years, 54 ensembles have performed the work; 43 of these performances were presented by

professional orchestras.94

Originally commissioned as a celebration by Curtis, because of significant events in

Higdon' s life, the composition quickly became much more personal. The composer's only

sibling, a younger brother, Andrew Blue Higdon, died of a virulent form of cancer at the age of

3395 in June, 1998. "He died very fast," said Higdon. "We called my mother and said he may

die in the next hour."96 The score is dedicated "in loving memory of Andrew Blue Higdon."97






92Bob Keyes, Neil\ Year, new magic from PSO; The first Tuesday Classical series of 2005 features a guest baton
and an ethereal piece by an acclaimed female composer," Portland Press Herald (Maine), 30 January 2005, sec.
AUDIENCE, p. E1.

93Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999).

94Andrew Druckenbrod, "Composer Making Musical History," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2 November 2005, p. E-1.

95Doug Mason,"Prelude in Tennessee: Grammy Winning Composer had her Musical Beginnings in Blount
County," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 18 September 2005, sec. E, p.1.

96Andrew Druckenbrod, "Higdon Poured Grief into blue cathedral," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2 November 2005, p.
E-2.

97Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999).










The descriptive title derives from two different sources. "Blue" was the middle name of

her brother and also refers to the color of the sky while "cathedral," according to Higdon, is

representative to many people of birth, death, marriage, knowledge, and learning. In the liner

notes to the compact disc recording of the composition, Higdon writes, "Blue--like the sky,

where all possibilities soar. Blue represents all potential and the progression of journeys."98

Regarding the use of the term cathedral, Higdon continues, "Cathedrals--a place of thought,

growth, spiritual expression, serving as a symbolic doorway into and out of this world.

Cathedrals represent a place of beginnings, endings, solitude, fellowship, contemplation,

knowledge, and growth."99 The composition in its entirety represents to Higdon, "a story that

commemorates living and passing through places of knowledge and of sharing and of that song

called life."1oo

The etymology of the term "cathedral" derives from the Latin "chair" (Latin: cathedra)101

and is associated with the Catholic faith. Higdon perceives the term more generally and she

subscribes to no specific religion. Because the composer experienced a myriad of faiths

throughout her youth, it appears to be simply coincidental. When questioned about these musical

occurrences, the composer states, "I don't really know enough about Catholicism" and then

reflecting on her adolescent years in Tennessee, she continues, "There's no Catholics in

Tennessee. It's all Southern Baptists. They're true Southern Baptists and Primitive Baptists in

Tennessee. No Catholicism there...my parents were a little freaked out by the Baptists...I still



98Jennifer Higdon, Rainbow Body, Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc CD 80596.
991bid.

1Olbid.

10'Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, "cathedra," (Accessed [20 June 2006]), w.com/dictionary/cathedra>










am after all these years."102 Higdon recalls during the compositional process, however, that

because the work was commissioned by Curtis, an institution of learning, the word "cathedral"

seemed fitting. Regarding the process of naming the work, the composer states, "I didn't want to

say blue Curtis that makes no sense, but cathedral...the idea of the fact that so many things

happen in a lifetime. So cathedral was just a general picture. I was originally going to call it

blue but one of my friends said, 'That' s not very interesting.' I don't know where cathedral came

from though sometimes words will come in my mind when I'm writing and I'll write them on the

margins of my sketches and then I'll go back and something looks like it' s supposed to be the

title."103

Andrew lived on Cathedral Street while living in Baltimore. Higdon initially did not

connect the street name to the title of the composition; only later, did a person who knew her

brother recognize the coincidence. She states, "This shows how I work on a subconscious

level...there are connections there that are interlaced that are subconscious."104 Throughout this

work, Higdon did not consciously achieve many of the end results that appear to be more than

links to the past. She regards these Eindings as valid and believes that many of these elements

were instinctual during the compositional process. 1os

The intentional small case letters in the title signifies, according to the composer, that she

desired the work to be about humanity rather than the music. She believes that the audience need

not be aware of the facts surrounding Andrew Higdon to appreciate a performance; the work can




102Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

103Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
1041bid.

10sIbid.










be understood upon an initial hearing. 106 In many publications referencing bhte cathedral,

capital letters are used in the title. According to Higdon, either is acceptable,107 but in the score,

the letters are purposely set in lower case, as is the composer' s name. She states, "I'm too

bashful to put my name in caps if I'm not putting the title (in capital letters).""o

Understandably, Higdon struggled emotionally while simultaneously grieving and

composing. She states, "I cried as I wrote the last two-thirds of the piece. I couldn't sleep, and I

worried that I might have written something incoherent. It wasn't until the first rehearsal that I

realized that I had a piece. Writing it was a cathartic and therapeutic experience. I thought about

my brother but also about my students. What makes a life? I lost my brother--what can you

take from an experience like that?"109 Because of the situation surrounding its composition, this

work contains a highly personal element.

The orchestration for the work is similar to that of a large Romantic ensemble with a few

significant exceptions. The woodwinds consist of 2 flutes (the second doubling piccolo), one

oboe, one English horn in F, 2 clarinets in Bb and 2 bassoons. The brass section includes 4 horns

in F, 3 trumpets in C, 2 tenor trombones, 1 bass trombone and 1 tuba. The strings are divided

into the standard Hyve sections of the orchestra (2 violin sections, viola, violincello and

contrabass; later the strings are subdivided into separate parts). A harp and piano/celesta part

completes the non-percussive instruments of the orchestra. 110 The percussionists are comprised


106Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Composer 's Corner, Updated 30 October 2005 (Accessed [13 May
2006])
107Brenda Rossow Phillips, "Jennifer Higdon: A stylistic analysis of selected flute and orchestral works," (DMA
doc., Arizona State University, 2005), 1.

'0sJennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

109Richard Dyer, "Composer has Emotional Reach, Direct Appeal Jennifer Higdon Touches Many with her Work,"
The Boston Globe, 13 July 2003, Sec. Arts/Entertainment, p. N.4

110Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999).










of three musicians and a timpanist. The third percussionist plays the crotales, marimba and the

tam-tam while the second percussionist is stationed at the vibraphone, glockenspiel, bell tree,

sizzle cymbal and suspended cymbal. The final percussionist utilizes the chimes, small triangle,

large triangle, bass drum, large tom-tom and the tam-tam. "1 In addition, crystal glasses and

Chinese health bells are added to complement the traditional instruments.

The following notes are included for the proper performance of the eight crystal glasses

used at the end of the work. "The horns, trombones, and tuba are required to play crystal glasses

towards the end of the piece. The glasses should be tuned by adding water. The player runs a

wet finger around the edge of the glass, producing a tone. To facilitate the playing of the glass,

the player might want to tape the glass to a stand next to him/her. Fine lead crystal produces the

best sound."112

Chinese health bells, sometimes referred to as Chinese health reflex bells, are performed

by a large portion of the players at the end of the composition (simultaneously with the crystal

glass sounds produced by members of the wind sections). Chinese health bells are golf-ball

sized chrome spheres twirled in the palms of the hands and produce a bright bell-like sound. The

instructions for performance of the Chinese health reflex bells listed in the score reads, "The

players need only pick up the bells and begin to shake where notated. Approximately 60 bells

are required for an appropriate sound."113 If needed, the Chinese health reflex bells can be

acquired directly through the composer. 114




111Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999).
1121bid.

1131bid.

1141bid.










Two different versions exist on the origins of the Chinese health reflex bells. According to

Andrew Druckenbrod from the Pittsburgh Post-Galzette, Higdon stated, "I was looking for a

sound I couldn't replicate in the orchestra...someone had given me a box of them. I bumped into

them at home and said, 'That' s it!"" In Brenda Rossow Phillips' dissertation, however,

Higdon stated, "The cat was playing on the table and bumped the box (with the bells)...I loved

the sound and wondered how I could use it. I ended up going to Chinatown to buy 60 boxes, and

now I ship them off to orchestras that are performing the piece."116 When asked for clarification

on precisely the discovery of this sound, the composer states, "Was it one of my cats? There was

a box of bells on my nightstand and either I hit the stand or...I was playing with the cat, and the

cat hit the stand. I can't remember if it was me or the cat."" Regardless of whom or what

bumped the box, the unearthing of this instrument was clearly accidental.

The piano is altered from its previous timbre through the application of two screws during

the final bars. The concept of "prepared piano" was made famous primarily through the

experimentation of American composer, John Cage (1912-1992). The exact preparations of the

piano are specifically designated by the composer in the performance notes which state, "The

pianist is required, between meas. 130-147, to place 2 screws within the strings of the piano.

Place 1 screw between 2 of the strings of the 'D' above the treble staff and 1 screw between 2 of

the strings of the 'A' above that D. The screws should be approximately 1-2" from the hammer.

The screws need to be just wide enough to change the timbre and pitch of those notes. Some

experimentation in placement may be necessary to achieve the best results. The resulting sound


11' Andrew Druckenbrod, "Composer Making Music History," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2 November 2005, Sooner
Edition, Concert Preview, p. E1.

116Phillips, op. cit., 74.

1'7Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.









should be that of a clock, chiming in the distance. (Specific pitches can be marked with chalk in

advance to facilitate locating)." "" With her relaxed sense of humor, Higdon warned audience

members that preparing a piano "is NOT SO1VETHING TO TRY AT HO1VE."119

Fairly detailed imagery was applied during the compositional process that outlines

Higdon's grieving process. In the liner notes of Rinbow Body, Higdon writes that while she

was composing, she "imagined a journey through a glass cathedral in the sky. Because the walls

would be transparent, I saw the image of clouds and blueness permeating from the outside of this

church. In my mind' s eye the listener would enter from the back of the sanctuary, floating along

the corridor amongst giant crystal pillars, moving in a contemplative stance. The stained glass

windows' figures would start moving with song, singing a heavenly music. The listener would

float down the aisle, slowly moving upward at first and then progressing at a quicker pace, rising

towards an immense ceiling which would open to the sky. As this journey progressed, the speed

of the traveler would increase, rushing forward and upward. I wanted to create the sensation of

contemplation and quiet peace at the beginning, moving towards the feeling of celebration and

ecstatic expansion of the soul, all the while singing along with that heavenly music." 120 Higdon

has not included in her description precisely where these events occur in the music.

Originally, the composer did not intend to share the program with the audience since she

believed the story was unnecessary to understand the music. The work has been performed

without the storyline provided and Higdon remarks that audience reaction is similar. She

receives letters following performances that describe the work's strength in communicating and



11sJennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999).

119Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Composer 's Corner, Updated 30 October 2005 (Accessed [13 May 2006])

12nJennifer Higdon, Rainbow Body, Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc CD 80596.










audience members have asked if she had lost someone close to her. Higdon believes bhte

cathedral "will speak without any kind of programmatic"121 explanation. She debated whether

or not to include the program in the liner notes to Rainbow Body. She voiced her concern to

Robert Spano, the conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, who recorded the composition.

Apprehensive about possibly playing on the audience's emotions, Spano told Higdon, "People

can decide for themselves."122 The composer recognized that once a reporter published the

programmatic material, it would become known to the public and nearly impossible to omit from

that point. As author of the liner notes, she declares those words to be the definitive source

regarding the issue. 2

Years after the death of Andrew, Higdon finds the composition adequately serves as a

memorial in any circumstances. Following the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade

Center, she realized the work functions as a universal homage to people who have died in

various circumstances. "I hadn't realized how appropriate this piece was...it had been three

years since Andy passed away but...it really fit the September 11Ith ordeal. It was eerie how

much...it felt like a memorial sort of piece. Not in a bad way."124 The composer views the work

as versatile and open to interpretation.

A specific musical association, however, occurs with the flute and clarinet. These

instruments are utilized as "characters" portraying the composer and her late brother. An

accomplished flutist, she is represented by the flute while Andrew is depicted by the clarinet, his

former instrument.


'21Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
'22 Ibid.

123 Ibid.

124 Phillips, op. cit., 92.









The composition initially was inspired by Andrew, Higdon's grieving process and the

questioning of life's purpose. While writing, the composer reflected on the meaning of life. In

the liner notes, she states that she asked herself "the question of what makes a life" and the

experience allowed her to "reflect on amazing journeys that we all make in our lives, crossing

paths with so many individuals singularly and collectively, learning and growing each step of the

way."125 Singular individuals are represented musically throughout the composition through

various instrumental soli; yet unlike the flute and clarinet, no direct portrayals of specific people

are depicted.

These distinct soli were composed to demonstrate the virtuosity and musicianship of the

Curtis Orchestra. In measure 24, an extended solo is written for violin that is quite prominent in

contrast to the other strings which have been playing con sordino. The solo violin ascends

gradually and in step-wise motion. When asked about the significance of this part, Higdon

states, "I've often pondered that. It felt necessary there. Sometimes I wonder, is it God? Is it

fate in the universe? Or is it just representative of something innocent? I don't actually know. It

makes sense musically but I have no idea what it is. It felt to me like there needed to be a shift in

the sound, an additional voice in the dialogue. It feels right when it comes in but I wonder every

time I hear it."126 Underneath the violin solo, the celli and basses are playing open fifths, an

interval that is featured consistently throughout the work.

Composing a solo violin passage within a large orchestral work is not a modern concept

and is consistently found in works by Richard Strauss. Unlike Strauss, however, Higdon's

uncertainty as to the exact representation of the violin allows free interpretation. Examples



125 Jennifer Higdon, Rainbow Body, Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc CD 80596.

126Phillips, op. cit., 65-66.










abound of the violin being an instrument mastered by Satan or other supernatural forces from the

dark side (such as Igor Stravinksy's L 'histoire du .Schokr). Yet, the violin has also been used to

program sacred Catholic works in Heinrich Biber' s 15 Rosar Sonata~s (c. 1676). Whether

representing devilish characters or depicting sacred scenarios, solo violin passages remain

difficult to characterize.

The solo violin ceases in measure 40 and Phillips refers to this section as the composer

questioning whether life is about living or dying. Musically, the uncertainty is depicted through

tension and dissonance in the upper strings. 127 At this point, the strings perform senza sordino

which contributes to a less dreamy atmosphere than the opening. As Phillips notes, the first and

second violins are separated by the interval of a minor seventh that are doubled by the flute,

piccolo and keyboard. 128 In the accompaniment, the lower strings and brass continually present

perfect fifths. Although Higdon states that the answer to the question, "Is this composition about

life or death?" was uncertain at the beginning of the compositional process, the parallel fifths

used so prominently suggests that subconsciously, Higdon may have already known the answer.

The persistent use of these consonant intervals provides relaxation from the tension produced by

the dissonant upper orchestral parts.

Measures 39-46 features a miniature fanfare played by the homs and trombones. Brief and

slightly fragmented, the homs sound minor chords. Upon the trombones' entrance in measure

43, the quality of the triad changes from minor to maj or to suggest a sense of optimism. (Figure

3-1) Higdon was questioned about this modal change and unaware of the situation, she states, "I

was going back and forth..."129 Indeed, the modal mixture provides emotional ambiguity.


127Phillips, op. cit., 65-66.
'2sIbid.

129Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.


























Figure 3-1. blue cathedral: mm. 40-43, modal ambiguity between horns and trombones. 130



In measure 39, the horns initially present a b minor chord, but these instruments lead one

to consider the true brass fanfare in measure 102. While composing the brass fanfare proper,

Higdon recalls, "That' s actually a moment where I really had this revelation where maybe life is

going to be about living."131 Yet the brief trombone and horn section in addition to the

accompanimental parallel fifths in measure 40 possibly offers the optimistic answer much

earlier.

Phillips refers to measures 50-55 as a transition section, but the horns present a brief

conclusion to the miniature fanfare from measure 40. In measure 43, the horns ended on an A

minor chord, yet when they resume playing in bar 50 the parallel maj or chord is heard to

foreshadow the composition's hopeful nature.

Measure 50 offers a brighter section with the horns' maj or chords and the violins

performing fortissimo (yet remaining quite dissonant). This passage begins a profound use of



130 Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999).

131Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










parallel fifth motion in the percussion and bassoon. Higdon states that "these fifths are like

church bells ringing in the distance, expressing an empty quality since there is no third in the

chord."132 A third of the chord is present, however, on beat three of the second violin section in

measure 50; an F#, sustained for eight beats, completes the D major sonority. Although

simultaneously played with additional fortissimo string parts, the third of the chord is quite

prevalent.133

Immediately following this section in measure 52, a more harmonic stable environment

emerges. The parallel fifths in the percussion and bassoon outline D maj or chords while the

upper woodwinds present separate maj or chords in homophonic texture. The accompanying

parallel fifths persists throughout this passage to provide a release from the previous dissonant

measures. The homophonic texture reveals a striking contrast to the abundant instr-umental soli

featured subsequently in measure 56.

Higdon began writing the composition with the English horn solo in measures 56-69. The

choice of this timbre bears no specific significance other than the composer' s preference for a

melancholic sound (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006)

and her admiration for the talented players at Curtis. Higdon states, "Part of that grew out of the

fact that the English hom, or oboe teacher at Curtis is so good. Richard Woodhams is the

principal oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I noticed when I would hear them (Woodhams'

students) play the English hom, it was so gorgeous (that) I made up my mind early on that I

wanted an English homn solo. It wasn't connected to anything it just fit. So I don't know what



132 Phillips, op. cit., 68.

133The imagery Higdon suggests of church bells is not apparent in the beginning of the section. The music becomes
more sonorous to the sounds of church bells in measures 57 and following when the harp, celesta and vibraphone
present parallel fifths.










that solo represents. I can remember my initial thought was, 'I got to have an English horn solo

in here."'134

The English homn is relatively new and still somewhat unconventional as a solo instrument.

The earliest notable appearance occurs in the Overture to Gioacchino Rossini's Guillaume Tell

(1828), a work that was harshly criticized by Hector Berlioz. Curiously, only two years later,

Berlioz employed the same instrument into the pastoral movement of Symphonie Fantastique.F~~FF~~~FF~~FF

The prominence of the English horn continued throughout the nineteenth century culminating in

a pivotal role in the Symphony in D 2inor (1886-88)135 Of Cesar Franck that remains one of the

most significant soli in orchestral repertoire.

The etymology of the English homn does not correlate to a nationality suggestive of its

name. The descriptive terminology for this alto oboe has been bastardized from its original

meaning. In this instance, the origins of "English" derive from the Middle or High German term,

"engellisch," translated as "angelic." The confusion results from the Middle German term for the

nation "England," which is "Engellant" while "engellisch" meant "English". This double

meaning for "engellisch" ("English" and "angelic") was understandably confounded and the

"angel's horn" eventually became known as the English horn. 136 Although Higdon did not

consciously associate the English horn with its history, it invites speculation on potential reasons

why this particular instrument receives such significance. One could conjecture on the potential

subconscious use of the "angel's hom:" it seems not only fitting but appropriate that this

instr-ument serves a vital role in a composition with "cathedral" in the title.


'3 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

13 John Trevitt/Joel-Marie Fauquet: "Cesar Franck," Grove Ahtsic Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [28 May 2006]),


136Geoffrey Burgess: "Oboe," Grove Ahsic Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [28 May 2006]),










This section, with its numerous instrumental soli, represents the lives one person touches.

Higdon' s original idea stemmed from the time of her brother' s illness. She stated to Phillips in

an interview, "When Andy was sick, we were at a house in Virginia Beach and there were a lot

of friends from Baltimore who would drive down to see him and I was very struck. One of the

couples was getting ready to have a baby and they decided to name the baby Blue because

Andy's middle name was Blue. I thought, 'Andy has crossed the path of a lot of other people

and a lot of people have crossed his path in his lifetime and people come and go but in some way

they all touch you.' And it is hard to draw a musical portrait of that. You almost have to make

little tiny solos but they have to be little. I think the English horn solo is probably longer because

that was the first thing I thought of..."137 Brief soli appear in the piccolo, oboe, viola, cello and

bassoon. The variety of timbres represents "all of the individuals that one crosses paths with in a

lifetime." (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006)

The length of the soli in this section varies. The opening English horn solo is the longest

and subsequently, answered by the others. Several of the smaller soli are strikingly similar to

one another. (The viola, oboe and cello contain the most parallels through their ascending scalar

passages). As the music progresses, the soli overlap to present a polyphonic texture, a style not

yet seen in the work.

The accompaniment in measure 56 present perfect fifths transposed to various degrees.

The persistent employment of this interval in the preceding and current sections provides a

similarity amongst two otherwise quite contrasting passages. Indeed, perfect fifths are a

consistent factor in this work and subtly function as a unifying device.





137Phillips, op. cit., 67.










Although the use of parallel fifths is no longer "forbidden," one may speculate on the

relevance of this interval in bhte cathedral. Parallel fifth motion is reminiscent of organum, a

term associated with the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Parallel or consecutive fifths were a

common occurrence in the genres of organum and conductus. The progression was not

prohibited until Johannes de Grocheo's (fl. 1300) Optima introduction in contrapunctum (c.

1300). 138 With the end of the Common Practice Period, parallel fifths have again, become

accepted and even widespread. One can only marvel at the remarkable coincidence in the use of

this interval in bhte cathedral and a composition with a similar title: Debussy's piano prelude La

Cathedrale Engloutie (1910).

"My counterpoint teacher would be having a cow"139 was Hidgon' s initial response on her

extensive use of fifths. Upon further reflection, however, the composer traces the influence to

her earlier fascination with major chords. "But in bhte cathedral, they (fifths) really made a

statement for the first time just as fifths and I was thinking about bells."140 When questioned

specifically about the potential connection to the title of the work and the Notre Dame organum

style, Higdon simply states, "It' s not that logical. Someone else brought that up but no, it was

much simpler than that I'm afraid."141 Although she does not associate organum with her own

compositional style, the coincidence still proves captivating.

Following the various soli, a new section begins in measure 70 that is clearly delineated by

a tempo change (quarter note=72) and a temporary cessation of solo instrumental dialogue. The



'3s William Drabkin: "Consecutive fifths, consecutive octaves," Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [11
June 2006]),

139Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
140lbid.

1411bid.










unyielding chimes of the keyboard are complemented by sustained parallel fifths in the lower

strings and once again, the interval functions as a unifying device between the two disparate

passages. (The second violins in measure 72 also present a continuous perfect fifth interval).

Phillips has described this section as the composer demanding answers to her questions

about life. 142 (Similarly, Andrew Druckenbrod of the Pittsburgh Post-Galzette suggests

frustrated emotions). 143 Phillips cites the violas and violins as the purveyor of Higdon' s

frustration. 144 In measure 76, the dialogue ensues with a triplet motive presenting identical

pitches. The discourse becomes more insistent upon the entrances in measure 78 when the

triplets are replaced by sextuplets. Phillips states, "It is not obvious which instrument is going to

introduce the next statement. Higdon commented that this dialogue between the two instruments

creates a sense of uncertainty, which represents the need for her (Higdon) questions to be

answered after her brother' s passing."14 On the contrary, although the phrases are irregular in

length, the presentation of the theme is delivered twice by the violas which are imitated precisely

by the first violins. Subsequent appearances repeat the order of instrumental entrances that

maintain consistency. Only after three imitative entrances do the two string parts achieve

independence through a contrapuntal texture.

The harmonic movement in the accompanying instruments continues the parallel fifths in

the horns, clarinets and lower strings. Only the trumpets present fully realized descending maj or

chords that contrast the parallel fifth intervals in harmonic content.



142Phillips, op. cit., 69.

143Andrew Druckenbrod, "Higdon Poured Grief into blue cathedral," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2 November 2005, p.
E-2.

144Phillips, op. cit., 69.

145Phillips, op. cit., 70.









During the increasingly complex soli of the viola and violin, the orchestration expands

while a crescendo increases the musical momentum. This leads directly into the next section

(measure 84), demonstrated clearly by a double bar with a new tempo (quarter note=90). This

passage, although beginning forte, clears the orchestral texture with central focus relegated to the

strings, percussion and trombones.

The strings, echoed by the bass trombone, alternate brief rhythmic motives within a narrow

range (often no larger than a perfect fifth), while the woodwinds present persistent sforzando

chords in syncopation to enhance the intensity. The independent percussion section exhibits a

new, seemingly unrelated motive of sextuplets. The previous violin and viola dialogue utilized

sextuplets frequently and one may consider this a unifying rhythm, although the pitch content

differs considerably.

Phillips believes measures 84-101 represent an internal struggle. Indeed, the mood is

altered by a new tempo marking (quarter note=90) and unique soli for the trombones. In

addition, the timbre of the timpani is altered by covering the drums with a piece of cardboard to

"deaden" the sound. 146 This effect eliminates much of the timpani's pitch and when played

forte, produces a sound similar to a "field drum used in battle"147 according to Phillips

(presumably representing the inner "battle" of the composer).

Utilizing colorful instrumental timbres remains one of Higdon' s more prevalent

compositional traits. The bass trombone and trombone present soli in measures 84-95.

Considering the trombone' s historical association with a heralding instrument of the damned,

one may erroneously conj ecture a myriad of subconscious possibilities for this scoring.



146Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999).

147 Phillips, op. cit., 70.










For centuries, trombones have aided in musical depictions of divine retribution. Group

trombone scoring began in the compositions of the Venetian Gabrielis (Andrea and Giovanni)

and Heinrich Schutz. By the early 17th century, the trombone's reputation in depicting dramatic

scenes was firmly established. Claudio Monteverdi's operatic masterpiece, Orfeo (1607), is one

of the earliest representative examples and utilizes a large trombone groupl148 to portray the

Underworld. Other notable examples are present in the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The supper scene in Don Giovanni (1787) and the well-known solo in the "Tuba mirum" of the

Requien?149 (1791) remain prominent within the trombone repertoire.

The trombone in bhte cathedral, however, bears no correlation to its colorful history.

Higdon chose this scoring simply because she needed more sound and power and insists that the

instrument in this instance is not linked to any musical representation (Jennifer Higdon, Pers.

Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) (perhaps due to the negative pictorial

associations with the trombone).

In measure 84, the bass trombone presents a brief recurring rhythmic motive comprised of

two sixteenth notes that is additionally manipulated and extended in the contrabass and

violincelli. Beneath this solo, the timpani presents repeated notes rapidly while the low tom-tom

provides a funeral-like rhythm. It is tempting to compare these rhythms to a funeral march that

would lend credence to the concept of the trombone as an instrument of divine retribution. The

funeral procession imagery was not intended by the composer but the rhythms that frequent the

passage are suggestive of such a scenario.



14sTrevor Herbert: "Trombone," Grove Ahtsic Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [29 May 2006]),

149Anthony C. Baines and Arnold Myers, "Trombone," Grove Ahtsic Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [29 May 2006]),










At this point, the principal trombone alternates with the bass trombone in a dialogue that

initially encompasses the range of a perfect fifth. When questioned on the narrow range, Higdon

states, "That' s instinct by ear...and people find things in my music and I didn't realize I did

it."1so The opening pitches repeat with rhythmic variety before the trombone expands to a

broader range.

Phillips' research states that this section (measures 84-102) musically depicts the soul

flying toward the ceiling of a cathedral only to realize there is no ceiling. 1 This imagery is

plausible since the fragmented motives in the violins gradually extend in pitch, but no

documentation accompanies the explanation and therefore casts a shadow of speculation on the

authenticity.

In measure 95, the meter changes resulting in an obscurity of the downbeat. An omission

of a strong metrical pulse combined with the simultaneous presentation of rapid ascending and

descending scales by the woodwinds does support Phillips' imagery of "floating," but without

verification from the composer, the imagery remains questionable. The parallel fifths are

replaced by maj or triads in the lower strings and keyboard to exhibit the following progression:

Gb, E, Eb, Db. The upper register of the piano hints at bitonality through a separate major chord

progression that if rearranged, outline a chromatic scale: C, Db, D, Eb, E. The harmonic discord

combined with the stable progression of the lower strings exudes a sense of ambiguity.

Musically, the instruments are "floating" around the entire harmonic spectrum.

This passage erupts into a lively brass fanfare spanning only eight measures (102-09), yet

due to the striking instrumentation a stark contrast is immediately present. The trumpets and



15oJennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

151 Phillips, op. cit., 63-64.










trombones present unyielding sixteenth notes that provide a driving rhythm. This brass fanfare,

according to Phillips, is the realization by the composer that life is about living. 152 The bass

trombone part in measure 106 originated from Higdon's student who experienced difficulty with

counting. The composer states, "I put that in because of the bass trombone students (sic) at the

school (Curtis). [He] was studying solfege with me at the time and I was torturing him a lot

about counting. So I put in a counting part for (him)."153

Following the brass fanfare, the rhythmic excitement continues with fuller orchestration in

measure 110. Four measures later, the flute and strings maintain the unyielding sixteenth notes

while the remaining woodwinds and brass present substantially slower rhythms. Higdon refers

to these contrasting harmonic rhythms as a "counterpoint of textures."15 (Figure 3-2)

A prominent solo comprised of a soaring melodic line for the horns commences in measure

115. According to Higdon, this represents the "ultimate flying theme"" which progresses to an

emotionally climactic section. In Phillips' research, the high instrumental registers symbolize

the "characters" reaching the stars,156 yet no footnote accompanies this description.

Following the climax, a new section begins promptly in measure 128, complete with meter

and tempo change (quarter note=72) that decreases further two measures later to the original

tempo (quarter note=60). Regarding this passage, Higdon states, "I often think about drawing

the audience in, they are in on this and by the time they get to that loud part (measures 100-128),

they are with you; no one is sleeping at all. But if you can bring it down to a more intimate


152Phillips, op. cit., 71.

153Phillips, op. cit., 72.
1541bid.

1ssPhillips, op. cit., 73.
1561bid.










setting really fast you actually pull the audience more with you. They are caught off guard by

the flute and the clarinet coming in (measure 131) but because they have heard that material

before and it sounds familiar, they are okay with it."15




114 15 16 ~ i










Fiue -.blecthdal m 1417,Hgdns"cutrpoin ofexurs.

Foloin he"ludprt" neteralevionen omene t o- accopan I ~the Higdo


sibling in thi ia ut h mseiu ua toshr sahee hruhtepaism

chme prsne ytetreprusoit;ec oud he ifrn oae ice n"n











160hilips op. cit.,T 73.~










divided second violins' alternation between D & E. To add to the otherworldly effect, Higdon

introduces the crystal glasses and Chinese health reflex bells in measure 129. The Chinese bells

increase in volume naturally by beginning in the back of the orchestra and gradually progressing

to the violins.

In measure 131, the flute and clarinet soli representing the Higdons return. The flute solo

is similar to its predecessor in bar 8, although scored an octave lower. The composer provides a

practical rationale for such scoring. "I can see an orchestration reason for putting that an octave

lower...if you look at the flute line in the measures leading up to it is high and when I'm writing

I try to make sure I vary the high and low to keep it interesting for the listener...I'd be willing to

bet this came about because...it was something that practical."161 The clarinet solo enters in the

same measure but unlike the flute, the range is unchanged from its initial appearance and

represents Andrew continuing his joumey upward. As the woodwind dialogue continues in

measure 133, two violas and two celli present descending chords. Although not an exact

replication, the lower strings recall the opening measures of the composition. Phillips referred to

this section as "a return back to earth"162 based on this progression. Higdon states, "I never

really thought of it like that. It's the ending. I knew that Andy's journey was going on. When I

was writing the chords, I was thinking I had to get the music to settle down...it' s got to feel like

it' s coming to an end and the descending chords felt like the best way to do that to move toward

a resolution. Now the flute cuts out because the clarinet is actually continuing on its

journey...This is the part where I said, 'Oh no, I can't really end this.' This piece is not

appropriate to end that way. I've got to find a way to bring it down and calm it."163 Phillips


161Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlant, Ga., 19 September 2006.

162Phillips, op. cit., 75.

163Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlant, Ga., 19 September 2006.










detailed programmatic analysis does not explain the similar string progression in the opening

measures; therefore, this author suggests the composer' s "return to Earth" occurs in the

registration change of the flute solo, although any imagery remains speculative.

The unidentified third character represented by the English horn returns in measure 134.

Similar to its initial solo in measure 56, the range is quite narrow, yet expands chromatically

from its previous presentation. The characterization of this solo remains unclear to the

composer. Higdon states, "Could be God, could be the universe. Could be anything. It was

there and it seemed logical and it is still as much a mystery to me today as it was when I wrote

it."164

The English horn ceases in measure 140 quickly followed by the flute in 142. In the liner

notes, Higdon writes, "At the end of the work, the two instruments continue their dialogue, but it

is the flute that drops out and the clarinet that continues on in the upward progressing

journey." 6

The Einal measures comprise the coda in which Higdon has cleverly applied significant

numerical associations to enhance a Einal representation of the siblings. Throughout the coda,

the specific numbers are essential, but they also appear in additional sections that illustrate her

intuitive compositional style.

The composer included the birthdates of both her brother and herself into the coda of bhte

cathedra~l166 although she has not publicly stated precisely where such occurrences appear.

Andrew' s birthday was July 13 (7-13) while Higdon was born on December 31 (12-31).



164 Phillips, op. cit., 74.

165 Jennifer Higdon, Rainbow Body, Robert Spano, Atlant Symphony Orchestra, Telarc CD 80596.

166Pittsbur-gh Symphony Orchestra, Composer 's Corner, Updated 30 October 2005 (Accessed [13 May 2006]










Curiously, the days are palindromes of one another. The composer did not consciously

incorporate the years of their births, yet in the beginning of measure 63, the piccolo presents a

brief solo. Because Higdon was born on New Year' s Eve in 1962, it is possible that this solo

bears a subconscious reference to the composer.

In Western society, the number 13 is associated with bad luck or evil. According to

Scandinavian legend, 12 demigods hosted a gathering at Valhalla when an uninvited 13th god,

Loki, entered and manipulated Holder, the blind god of darkness, into murdering Balder the

Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Darkness and mourningl67

resulted for the Earth and consequently, misfortune and misery were attributed to this unlucky

13th demigod. 168 A similar rationale for the unluckinesss" of the number 13 derives from

Christianity. Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ was the 13th guest at the Last Supper 169 and

was likewise viewed as an unfortunate. It is also likely that the number 13 was purposely vilified

during the indoctrination of the current patriarchal system. In prehistoric goddess-worshiping

cultures, the number 13 was highly venerated due to the number of lunar, or menstrual, cycles

per year. Once the solar calendar replaced the lunar calendar and the oppressive male dominated

societies were solidified, the number 13 lost its former reverence. 170 Due to the optimistic nature

of blue cathedal,~ however, any connection with the number 13 as evil is irrelevant; Higdon's

positive association with the number remains a point of interest in her rej section of superstitions.





167 Illf)! ll ll ll .COrsinet.coml/trivia/scary.html (Accessed [30 May 2006])

168 Illf)! ll ll ll .gl0balpsychics.com/1lp/superstition /fridy1t~t (Accessed [29 May 2006])

169 Illf)! ll ll ll .COrsinet.coml/trivia/scary.html (Accessed [30 May 2006])
170 "(Paraskevidekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th," Urban Legends and Folklore,
http://urb~anlegends.about.com/cs/historia/frdyte1hhm (Accessed [11 March 2007])










The performance time of the work varies, of course, but generally spans approximately 13

minutes. Although purely coincidental, the timing warrants mention within the numerical

discussion.

The initial flute solo in measure 8 appears before the clarinet because "going first is the

privilege of being the older sibling."" Numerical significance within the composition

commences with the clarinet solo in measure 13, the day of Andrew' s birth. Higdon comments

on this author' s discovery, "That was amazing. I was thinking after you mentioned that. I had

some distant recollection of the 13 because his birthday was on the 13th...but because it was the

first year after his death, my brain was so foggy. I just can't remember certain things but that felt

familiar but I have just not been able to put my finger on it."172

Measure 13 1 (a hybridization of Andrew and Higdon' s days of birth), features a brief duet

between the flute and clarinet. When questioned about this instance, Higdon replied, "In terms

of measure 13 1 architectural (sic) design...I don't think it was intentional...I hadn't noticed

that...although it is a little amazing." Although Higdon did not explicitly compose this measure

to be numerically meaningful, she has not dismissed the possibility of a subconscious reference.

(Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) She states, "I think

there's probably something to that. I actually have no doubt. I don't think that was coincidence.

It' s a little too much our two birthdays...it makes sense."173

Again, Higdon has not specifically outlined the appearance of the two birthdates in the

coda. Phillips' analysis proves noteworthy but does not include the composer' s birth date, and

Higdon stated, "I put in my birth date and Andy's birth date (mine: 12-31; his 7-13) in the piece

171Phillips, op. cit., 65.

172Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
1731bid.










in a very exposed location."17 As Phillips' research demonstrates, the lower crotales presents

the third of a D maj or chord seven times to represent the month of July, while the glockenspiel

strikes thirteen times to represent the day. 1 Working with Phillips during the research, Higdon

states, "This is hysterical. Brenda (Phillips) asked me about this and she couldn't figure it out,

then I was trying to figure it out. I actually did it and I was trying to figure it out! It was

tricky...I did have trouble when Brenda started asking me about it. When I went back to look at

the sketches, I couldn't find where I had written it down...but that had more to do with the fact

that I have so many sketches of so many different things. It could have been written on a napkin

and I may have lost the napkin."176











Figure 3-3. blue cathedral: mm. 149-153.17



There are additional appearances of these numbers in the coda that have not yet been

exposed. Not including the final pitch, 1 the vibraphone sounds twelve times to represent


174Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Composer 's Corner, Updated 30 October 2005 (Accessed [13 May 2006]),


'75Phillips, op. cit., 75.

176Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

177Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999).

17s Regarding the final pitch, Higdon states, "The last note was also an extension...that was just kind of a closing off
but not part of the numerology" therefore substantiating the claim that it need not be included within the
numerological discussion.-- Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










Higdon's birth month. A visual aspect of the scores reveals further examples; the number of

crotale pitches (including tied notes) with the note stems facing up equals 31 (Higdon's day of

birth and a palindrome of 13). The Higdon siblings' birth dates therefore, are presented

simultaneously.

Because Andrew died at the age of 33, the composer also assigns significance to this

number. 179 Following the Einal clarinet solo, a prepared piano enters in measure 147 to "chime"

a perfect fifth interval 33 times. The Higdons originally believed Andrew' s birthday was July

14th (7-14, rearranged in the measure number). The composer states, "We must have celebrated

his birthday on the 14th for 6, 7 or 8 years before my mom found his birth certificate and went,

'Oh, it's the 13th."'lso

In measure 149, triplets in the vibraphone, glockenspiel and chimes result in a visual

realization of the number three, a connection Higdon did not consciously employ. She states, "I

always pick up on the auditory sensation of an attack. I don't think of it as a visual element. In

fact, I think when I wrote this, I was surprised at how it came out."ls In addition, the Einal page

of the score contains 33 different instrumental lines. The composer can neither confirm nor deny

this potential coincidence but stated, "It could be something but I didn't do it intentionally."18s2

Finally, the number three appears in measure 149 in the lower triangle and chimes. The triangle

presents three pitches while the chimes display three separate pitches in an augmented rhythm.

Four beats of rests follow before the pattern repeats with the chimes in diminution. (A similar



1"9Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Composer 's Corner, Updated 30 October 2005 (Accessed [13 May
2006]),

'80 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
I81 Ibid.

1s: Ibid.










example transpires between the vibraphone and glockenspiel). Regardless of her conception, the

visual frequency of the number three proves significant. (Figure 3-3)

Although Higdon declared openly the representation of Andrew' s age at his death through

the 33 "chimes" of the piano, all other numerical appearances were discovered by this author.

Such finding should not be dismissed as coincidental; the composer validates such discoveries as

reflective of her instinctual compositional method.

The opening and concluding measures of the work utilize a similar instrumentation, yet no

numerical significance is present in the introduction. Higdon states, "There's nothing there, I

was trying to figure out how to start the piece. I wrote that before the ending but this wasn't

connected to anything because I hadn't thought about using the numerology at that point. I

wrote this first, I didn't get the organization sense until I got to the end...and then I knew I

wanted to bring back this material."183

Although composed in the wake of Andrew' s death, the composition is neither mournful

nor a lament. Several passages utilize the tonality of D major, a key associated with vibrancy,

triumph and rej oicing.18s4 While initially uncertain about her perspective of life, Higdon states,

"I was surprised it turned out so positively." l Notating passages in the key of D maj or may

suggest that, subconsciously, Higdon harbored positive assumptions. The composer, however,

remains skeptical. She states, "That wasn't conscious because when I was writing blue

cathedral, I was literally trying to figure out whether life was going to be about living or whether

it was going to be about death. I was agonizing. When I started that piece, I did not feel like


183Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

184A History of Key Characteristics in the 18t and Early 19t Centuries, trans. Rita Steblin (Ann Arbor: UMI
Research Press, 1983

1ss Andrew Druckenbrod, "Higdon Poured Grief into blue cathedral," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2 November 2005, p.
E-2.










things were going to be ok."18s6 Higdon does not dismiss the possibility of D maj or appearing

subconsciously, but remains adamant that any positive associations with the key were minimal

due her intense grief. s

Undoubtedly, blue cathedral has attained an elevated status among modern symphonic

compositions. Several explanations account for its continuing popularity. While the work

contains dissonant passages, the composition is aurally pleasing and accessible to those at

various stages of musical comprehension. In addition, the underlying programmatic content

relates to the human condition. Throughout history, audience acceptance has not guaranteed

posterity, of course, but this work is also held in high esteem by trained musicians that implies a

level of sophistication beneath the audible pleasantry. Musicians, conductors and critics are

drawn to the unique timbres and musicianship required in the individual soli that permeate the

composition. blue cathedral catapulted the composer into widespread recognition. Paving the

way to subsequent orchestral commissions, this work, born from intense grieving, has

transformed Higdon's compositional career into a modern-day fairy tale.



















186Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
1s? Ibid.









CHAPTER 4
CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA

Similar to blue cathedral, Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra materialized from a

celebratory occasion. The Philadelphia Orchestra had substantial plans to inaugurate its

centennial year that included commissions of several compositions.ls Higdon's Concerto for

Orchestra, the largest work she had yet written, was a result, and has since appeared frequently

on orchestral programs throughout the United States.

"Word-of-mouth" is Higdon's primary method of promoting her music. She believes

superior compositions will garner recognition, a factor that provided Higdon this opportunity

with the Philadelphia Orchestra. A musicianl89 in that ensemble had performed her music and

heard a recording of her orchestral composition .1hinell (1996). That musician suggested Higdon

as a composer worthy of commission to the director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. As a result,

she received a telephone call from Simon Woods, the artistic administrator, requesting a score

and recording. She recalls, "I didn't know why he was asking. I actually had a couple pieces

(sic) but they weren't very good but I had this one piece called .\hine, and I took that to him." 190

On the composers selected for the commissions, she states, "I know that they were going

to have to commission a Philadelphia composer in this mix because they would get a lot of flak.

They looked at a lot of people but somehow they came up with me...that was a shock to all of

us."191 Higdon humorously relates how she discovered she was ultimately chosen, "I forgot

about it, and about one month later I was walking down the street...and the first flute player,

'ss0ther compositions resulting from these commissions include Aaron Kernis's Color Wheel, Michael Daughtery's
Philadelphia Stories and Roberto Sierra's Concierto para orquesta.

189Higdon does not know which musician recommended her music. --Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape
recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

190Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
1911bid.










Jeffrey Khaner was running down the street, jumping up and down motioning to me. He goes

tearing across three lanes of traffic, almost getting hit and he said The Philadelphia Orchestra is

going to commission you. At which point I promptly fainted. No, just kidding." 192

The composer recalls her initial period of uncertainty once Khaner informed her of the

startling news. Higdon states, "As soon as I was out of grad school, suddenly I got this

commission, I was completely horrified. In fact, really for the next two or three days I just wasn't

sure I heard him correctly. It took a while for that to sink in. And then panic set in, literally for

about a year. What have I gotten myself into because all my teachers, all these people were

pointing at me saying, 'She's the one with the Philadelphia Orchestra commission.' You could

hear the whispering."193 Higdon comments on the potential gossip within the Philadelphian

compositional circle at the time, "I'm sure there was probably mumblings and grumblings.

There had to be...I'm in a city with... some amazing composers and I had literally just come out

of graduate school. I had only graduated four years before. Thank goodness there was a gap

from the time they asked me to write it than when the premiere (occurred) because I needed that

time to adjust my thinking. It was too much pressure. I would have been in trouble if I had to

turn out that piece within a year. I'm glad there was time for me to think about it."194 Due to the

prestige of the commissioning ensemble and its surrounding circumstances, the composer

allowed herself a wide time frame to write. Higdon began the work fairly soon after receiving

the unexpected commission and vividly remembers her feelings of uncertainty. She remarks,




192"Publishing, self-publishing and the internet," Transcript of panel during Women' s Philharmonic's Composing a
Career Symposium-6 November 1999, newmusicbox, 2/1/2000 (Accessed [7 July 2006]) available from
b1lip w\ il \t .newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=537; Internet.
193Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
1941bid.










"What the hell am I going to write for the Philadelphia Orchestra? It was scary."195 The

commission, originally granted in 1998, was not scheduled to premiere until 2002. 196

Early in the composition process, Higdon identified the work as a Concerto for

Orchestra. Numerous orchestral works by a plethora of composers have been given the same

title ranging from Zoltan Kodaly, Roger Sessions, Witold Lutoslawski and Leonard Bernstein

(whose composition is also known as Jubilee Gamnes and includes a baritone vocal part), to Joan

Tower and Goffredo Petrassi, the latter of whom wrote eight separate works entitled Concerto

for Orchestra from 1933-1972.197 Bela Bart6k' s composition of the same name is perhaps the

most commonly associated with the genre and continues to remain a favorite of orchestral

audiences. Because of the extensive popularity of his work, parallels between Bart6k and

Higdon are frequently drawn by critics regardless of the fact that over twenty compositions bear

this same title. Composing a work in the shadow of the well-known Bart6k did not deter

Higdon, although she consciously strove to be unique. In order to preserve originality, she

states, "I stopped listening to the Lutoslawski and the Bart6k ...because I love those works. I

would never be able to make my own kind of Concerto for Orchestra; I was afraid that my head

would be replaying their music. So I intentionally stayed away from those pieces for four years.

I was aware of them, but I tried not to think about it."198

Similarities between the Bart6k and Higdon works are limited to the number of

movements and the arch form utilized in each. Higdon comments, "Because I stopped (listening

195Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

196Andrew Quint, "Speaking with Composer Jennifer Higdon: The Communication Thing," Fanfare, May/June
2004, p. 42-45.

19 Enzo Restagno, "Goffredo Petrassi," Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [11 July 2006]),


198 Andrew Quint, "Speaking with Composer Jennifer Higdon: The Communication Thing," Fanfare, May/June
2004, p. 42-45.










to BartC~k during the compositional process) and I let that out of my system, I forgot about the

fact that the BartC~k' s in five movements. I honestly didn't realize."199


It is worth noting, however, that outside of the large formal structure, little similarity can

be found between Higdon's and BartC~k's compositions. Higdon consciously strove to

differentiate her work from that of the Hungarian master. The various parallels drawn between

the two composers appear to stem more from a lack of knowledge of additional existing works in

the same genre rather than actual similarities. A Concerto for Orchestra by any composer will

make use of the diverse timbres available in large ensembles. Higdon states that many people

are drawn to making comparisons with her music. She recalls, "One reporter said this piece

(Concerto for Orchestra) reminds me of Lutoslawski and Schoenberg and Mozart and

Stravinsky. They went on with the whole list and all the composers (were) completely

contradictory and I (thought), 'What the hell are they saying? I don't understand what this

means.'"zo Although unclear, the journalist may have been referring to a touch of neo-

classicism.


In her earlier works, Higdon chose descriptive titles suggestive of a specific mood or

character. She abandoned the possibility of a poetic title for this work because, "Concerto for

Orchestra was so specifically about the Philadelphia Orchestra that commissioned it that after

trying to think of a title for several years, I could only see a plain ordinary one in my head. I

knew that this could be the only possible title for that piece."201 The label is not only fitting but


199Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
2oolbid.

201Renate Brosch, "Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon,"
Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from
http:.//magazin.klassik. com/magazines/template .cfm? SEITE= 1& START= 1& AID= 87 9); Internet.










appropriate since it truly is a concerto for the entire orchestra complete with a plethora of soli

that distinguishes the individual five movements.

When asked about this abrupt change, Higdon remarked, "That' s a very unusual thing for

me. It' s so absolute that I couldn't come up with a more original title. They (people) actually

said, 'What the hell's wrong with you?'...They're (the compositions) often about the ensemble

I'm writing for and I'm thinking about the ensemble. My brain...doesn't come up with any kind

of imagery." 202

As an active member of Philadelphian musical life since her graduate school years,

Higdon has established personal relationships with many of the orchestral members. Intimate

knowledge of the differing personalities of the musicians in addition to the familiarity of the

style of music preferred by the principal players enhanced the genuineness of the composition.

Higdon stated, "I've worked with a lot of the Orchestra' s musicians in new-music concerts. I

went to school with some at Curtis, or they are former students of mine. I'm tailoring the

Concerto to the individual players and to the Orchestra as a whole."203 Higdon believes this

familiarity reinforced sincerity to the specific commission. She states, "I could see their faces

when I was writing; I knew who' d be playing what part. I've worked with a lot of them and

know the kind of music they pick for their recitals."204

Personal relationships between premiering musicians in large ensembles and

contemporary composers are not particularly numerous within the contemporary scene.


202Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
203 "Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra Highlights Premieres," Sequenza 21 6/3-10, 2002 (Accessed [7 July
2006]) available from http://www.sequenza21.com/060302.html.

204David Patrick Stearns, "Jennifer Higdon," And'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
bli wilit andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=17341hglht&imin=hglgtersjn%2 7Cg
do%2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon; Internet.










Composing music specifically for musicians does, however, have a strong history as seen in such

examples as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's operatic works. In a similar vein, Higdon purposely

wrote soli for instrumentalists in Concerto for Orchestra based on their musical strengths and

personal preferences.205

The composition of this work occurred during Higdon' s frenzied travel schedule. The

second movement was written in several locations surrounded by large bodies of water. These

sights include Pensacola, Florida while at a music festival, Los Angeles, while her partner was

involved in a convention, and finally in Chicago. Because of the close proximity of oceans and

lakes, the second movement reminds Higdon of wind blowing on the water and even the hotel

rooms remain vivid in her memory. Although the composer believes her surroundings had an

impact on the music,206 the influence is not pronounced enough for the listener to associate the

music with water. Higdon clearly states, "There's no literal reference to water."207 The entire

five movements, unlike bhte cathedral, fall strictly within the genre of absolute music.

The world premiere of Higdon' s Concerto for Orchestra occurred on June 12, 2002 with

Wolfgang Sawallisch leading the Philadelphia Orchestra at the newly opened Kimmel Center for

the Performing Arts. Last of all the commissioned compositions to be performed, the work was

paired on the program with Richard Strauss's epic tone poem, Ein Heldenleben. The orchestral







205 Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.
206David Patrick Stearns, "Jennifer Higdon," 4nd'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
bli wilit andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=17341hglht&imin=hglgtersjn%2 7Cg
do%2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon: Internet.

20Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










musicians nicknamed Higdon's composition "Ein Higdonleben" after witnessing a more

favorable audience response to this work compared to the Strauss.208

Although Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra was successful with the audience and

musicians at its premiere, an element of added exposure enabled the composer to exhibit her

work to the most influential people on the United States' symphonic circuit. The American

Symphony Orchestra League was holding their annual conference in Philadelphia at the time.

Regarding the potential impact such a respected audience could garner, Higdon states, "There

were 3,000 orchestra managers there...If it worked, things were going to go great for the rest of

my life, if not it was going to be bad."209 The composition was triumphant, enabling Higdon the

opportunity to enjoy higher recognition as a composer. As a result, her compositions are

programmed more frequently. This fame was a contributing factor to the Pittsburgh Symphony

Orchestra' s appointment of Higdon as Composer of the Year210 which, in turn resulted in the

commissioning of another concerted work, the Trombone Concerto.

After the premiere, Higdon comments that her life was completely altered and people have

since referred to her as a celebrity. With her customary laid-back personality, she states, "What?

Are you kidding me? Oh my God, (John) Corigliano's famous, I'm not. It was totally ridiculous

but I never think of myself that way."211 Regardless of how she views herself, this composition

in combination with blue cathedral put her name on the orchestral map.




208David Patrick Stearns, "Jennifer Higdon," And'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
hopl1 wilit\\.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=17341hglht&imin=hglgtersjn%2 7Cg
do%2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon; Internet.

209Andrew Druckenbrod, "Composer Making Musical History," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2 November 2005, p. E-1.
2101bid.

211 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










Since its premiere, Concerto for Orchestra has been performed numerous times by

professional orchestras including the Dallas Symphony, the National Symphony, the Pittsburgh

Symphony and the BBC Orchestra. The work has also been featured on programs of several of

the nation's most prominent university orchestral ensembles such as the Cleveland Institute of

Music and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

In its original conception, the Concerto for Orchestra had only four movements212 but was

quickly expanded to five. The last movement may be interpreted as a continuation of the

preceding movement since it is performed attacca and contains linking ostinato motives in the

percussion. In addition, a plethora of musical ideas from previous movements are present

throughout the finale that provides credence to interpreting the finale as a large coda to the entire

composition.

Formal analysis reveals a symmetrical arch form that, although not abundantly common,

occurs in several standard repertoire works.213 Higdon stated that the title infers an accentuation

of the entire orchestra in contrast to a solo concerto. According to the composer, the work

displays "the talents and the gifts of the players who play in the ensemble--in this particular case

I have written a work that shows off the principal players. There (are)...solos for everyone in the

group ..."214 A treatment of varied soli within the orchestra is to be expected of a composition

bearing such a title. The featuring of individual sections for entire movements is less so, yet


212 David Patrick Steams, "Jennifer Higdon," 4nd'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
1llt \p w\ il .andante.com/article/article. cfm?id= 173 41&highlight= 1&timeline= 1&highlightterms= jenni%2A%/7Chig
do%/2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon: Intemnet.

213 Brahms' Ein Deutches Requiem and Bart6k's Concerto for Orchestra, both standards in the western art music
canon also utilize this form.

21 Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, "Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [7 July
2006]
Illi w\ il itpittsburghsymphony.org/pghsymph.nsf/concr+itns2D948A94827306D4?p
document.









examines the possibilities available within like timbres. In contrast, the orchestral movements

explore the capabilities of a full symphony.

The orchestration of this work is quite extensive and requires nearly all of the instruments

available in a percussionist' s arsenal. The orchestration for the percussion section exceeds bhte

cathedral; understandably so, since the fourth movement is solely dedicated to exploring these

particular timbres. Three percussionists and a timpanist comprise the required number of

musicians for this section. The woodwinds and brass utilize three players per instrument (with

exceptions in the scoring for four F horns and a single tuba). A fully scored string section is

included and the orchestration is further expanded by a harp and piano/celesta part.

Undoubtedly, the work is full of the energy and rhythmic drive associated with Higdon' s

music. As a humorous aside Higdon states, "Three people have gotten speeding tickets listening

to that (Concerto for Orchestra) in the car...one person ran a light. I try to warn people, 'Be

careful listening to this in your car.' I was shocked at the first rehearsal. I was completely

terrified. My friends who went with me to the rehearsal (said), 'Holy cow, do you realize what

you've done?' I (responded with), 'No, what happened?' A totally goofy reaction."21

The first movement was the last to be composed. Higdon felt the other movements had

to be written before working on the initial movement. She recalls her feelings of anxiety

beginning the composition, "The first movement was the last thing I wrote and it was the most

terrifying moment. I thought, 'I'm going to mess up all these other movements."'216

The first movement focuses on the complete ensemble separated by episodes that feature

entire sections as soloists. Higdon states her purpose was to recognize "the fact that it takes



21 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
2161bid.










many individuals to make the whole orchestra."217 COmmunication with audiences comprises

one of the most important aspects of Higdon's mission as a composer. This disposition is

prevalent in an on-line preview to the Pittsburgh Symphony's performance of the work. Higdon

stated, "There's no way to start this better than having everyone play together and I got a lot of

notes in this beginning but I wanted to show you what it sounds like, the mass of the orchestra

coming at you."218

The first movement may erroneously be categorized as a sonata form. Upon closer

analysis, however, it becomes evident that, even under the most lenient of definitions, this is not

the case. Unifying motives are present that link separate sections rather than exploring stark

contrasts. As a result, the individual sections share musical elements with each other and

continue to build upon one another.

Throughout the composition, Higdon provides few descriptive tempo markings. Instead,

approximate metronome markings are supplied. The first movement, typical of many multi-

movement compositions, is endowed with a spirited tempo.

Rather than showcasing the full orchestra during the opening measures, Higdon

commences with only the timpani, chimes, strings and horns. It bears mentioning the unusual

prominence bestowed upon the percussion in the opening. Instructed to play fortissimo, these

instruments sound the pitches of F and Bb that almost immediately expand to F, Bb and E

melodically. (Figure 4-1) Thus the opening is comprised of a perfect fourth followed by an


217Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.
218Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, "Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [7 July
2006]
bli w\ il itpittsburghsymphony.org/pghsymph.nsf/concr+itns2D948A95557306D5?p
document.










augmented fourth. Higdon would never be classified as a serial composer and such atonal

implications are unusual. To the current author, she stated, "I'm glad you see (the

intervals)...you're the only one. You know what most people say? 'I hear a one (tonic).'

There's several (comments): V-I, IV. When I was writing, I was literally just thinking about the

intervals. I wanted) the intervals to unfold and I thought (they were) more interesting sounding.

Instead of going perfect fourth, perfect fifth, I put perfect fourth and a tritone."219 The opening

fourth interval plays a prominent role in the subsequent movements and it is significant that this

melodic interval begins the composition.










Figure 4-1. Concerto for Orchestra, I, mm. 1-4.220



Arnold Schoenberg also had an affinity for these intervals and frequently composed

chords containing a perfect fourth and an augmented fourth in his atonal works. Although

Schoenberg's scoring for these chords generally appears harmonically while Higdon writes these

intervals melodically, the similarity remains noteworthy of Higdon's all-encompassing style. 221

She states, "I thought the sound was fascinating, that' s actually it...I knew I needed something



219Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

220Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

221Unlike Schoenberg, Higdon is not a twelve-tone composer. In fact, she states, "I thought it (serialism) was
totally uninteresting. I have written 12-tone works, but I thought that whole phase was uninteresting...I had to write
it in graduate school, but I pretty much steered clear of it early on."- 221 Jason Victor Serinus, "Interview: The
Award-Winning Jennifer Higdon," Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, June 2005 (Accessed [8 July 2006]),










that sounded like it was revving up...I thought, 'Jesus, how am I going to write something...and

make it lead logically into all the rest of the stuff.' So that interval's got me in trouble. I can't

tell you how many people who prefer atonal music have gotten ticked because they thought it

had tonal implications. That' s usually the grief people give me about it... it' s funny because I

don't take it as grief. If it works as music I don't care what you think about it. If it says

something to the audience, that's all that really matters to me...but people usually look at that in

tonal(ity) and I wasn't thinking that way at all. It was literally intervals."222

The excitement commences immediately with the forceful percussive opening. The

following measures are scored primarily for the strings displaying a fugal-like texture. This is

not a true fugue, however, because the subject is extended in its various presentations rather than

exhibiting itself unchanged as in a proper fugue. Another contrasting factor lies in the opening

pitch of each individual presentation of the "subj ect." Imitations in these passages occur on the

same pitch (B natural) rather than transposed. While the imitations occur within the same pitch

class, the opening passages also do not conform to the style of a canon. The initial measures are

undoubtedly polyphonic but do not lend themselves particularly well to the strict definitions of

polyphonic forms. (Figure 4-2)







Figurel~~ 4-2.Cnet o rhsrI m -.2





22Jnifer Higdon Concerto for Orchestra (Pilaepha PA: LawonPrss,202)












The B natural is consecutively employed for the opening pitch in the strings' imitative

passage. This note is accented in the score, presumably to focus attention on the continuously

entering thematic Eigures. The "subject" passes through the strings before appearing at

increasingly rapid intervals.

The horns are the only additional instrumentation scored in the opening measures.

Initially, the parts are imitative of the first violins' fugue-like subject. Following only one direct

imitation, however, the horns manipulate this material. Their significance in the composition's

beginning is reinforced by the forte dynamic marking in addition to the notation of accents on

each pitch.

Within the string section, the imitation continues to increase in intensity. The climax

occurs at the cessation of this polyphonic texture in measure 11i. Although the texture changes to

homophonic at this point, the persistent rushing sixteenth notes aid in reinforcing the momentum

initiated by the "subj ect." A temporary break in complexity is achieved through unison scoring

of the strings.

The homophonic texture lasts only a brief three measures before an interesting harmonic

situation arises in measure 14. The strings return to the opening polyphony but the imitative

"subject" begins primarily on F#. Within the structural confines of a fugue, the "answer" would

typically be transposed to this pitch (a perfect fifth higher than the original B) but Higdon has

delayed this harmonic occurrence for an astonishing thirteen measures. The imitation in the

strings is similar to the opening with added doublings by select woodwind parts, their first

appearance in the composition. The timbral focus, previously found in the strings, is further

contrasted with this sudden appearance of woodwind instruments. (Gradually, Higdon










introduces the brass section through imitative passages for trombones one and two in a different

context from the strings).

The chimes and timpani continue to sound the opening fourth and tri-tone intervals

melodically. The original pitches have been transposed a minor second from F to F# yet the

interval remains consistent while drawing attention to the new tonal area introduced by the

strings. The continued use of these atonal sounding intervals provides a striking harmonic

contrast.

Throughout this imitative string section, the scoring of woodwinds increases to produce a

fuller orchestral sound. Since the horns and percussion are tacet, the woodwind timbres are

clearly discernible. In addition, the dynamic marking for the woodwinds is fortissimo while the

strings are marked only forte implying more emphasis on the winds. The principal melodic

material derives from the "answer" initially provided by the strings. Because this "answer" is

derived from the initial "subj ect," the entire work is thus far unified by the opening violin

measures.

A subsection begins in measure 29 with the incorporation of nearly the full orchestra. The

oboes, clarinets, bassoons and piano continue the rushing sixteenth notes. The strings (still

doubled by several woodwinds) are sounding minor sixths and perfect fifth intervals in parallel

motion. Moving in homophonic texture, this section provides contrast from the earlier

polyphonic style of these instruments.

A link between the two subsections is apparent within the horn section. By scoring

ascending perfect fourths in measure 29 for this instrument, Higdon recalls the opening

percussion interval. The line is somewhat varied through the use of only perfect fourths yet


















a2

tJ~' 1 I I I


tj
f


remains a clear reference to the opening. The ascending motion of the line is a recurring theme

in this composition. (Figure 4-3)


Hn, 1-3


Ho 2-4


Figure 4-3. ConZcerto for Orchestra, I, mm. 29-33.224




After this concise display by the entire ensemble, the orchestration is minimized by the

omission of the trumpets and piano in measure 46. This may imply that a new section is

commencing, but the strings (and doubled instruments) continue to sound perfect fifth intervals.

Rather than the minor sixth this sound was paired with earlier in measure 29, the interval of a

maj or seventh is now heard in the second violins in combination with the perfect fifth intervals.

An orchestration change has also occurred: the clarinets replace the trumpets with the

descending major chords and similar rhythmic Eigures.

To further substantiate returning musical material, the chimes melodically present the

opening intervals of perfect and augmented fourths in measure 46. The orchestra at this point is

sounding much of the primary musical material presented thus far in the composition that results

in an elaborate culmination of themes and motives. The second trombone, bass trombone and

contrabass present descending perfect fifths, a musical signature of Higdon. (The horns add to

this effect through stationary fifth intervals).





22 Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









Measure 5 1 begins the second section of the first movement. Rather than featuring the

entire ensemble, an immediate contrast is prevalent through the cessation of all instruments

except for the vibraphone (doubled by flutes in a low range) and horns. Higdon uses these

instruments as accompanimental material to various instrumental soli.

The bass clarinet presents the first solo in the work. While bass clarinet soli are rare, the

instrument is featured in several of the most popular compositions of the canon. Tchaikovsky' s

"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from the ballet 7Jhe Nutcracker and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring

both make use of the bass clarinet as a soloist. Flowing from the pen of Schoenberg, the

symphonic work Pellea~s und2~elisande (1902-03) also features the instrument. Although

strictly coincidental, this similarity adds a curious secondary parallel to the music of Schoenberg

in addition to the opening intervals. Higdon uses the bass clarinet in this section to present an

expanded version of the original violin subject from measure 2. This solo also exhibits an

ascending musical line, a prominent feature throughout all five movements. When asked about

the unexpected coincidences to Schoenberg, the composer stated, "When I make decisions in

music it' s never based on other music because I'm still learning this repertoire. Since I grew up

on rock and roll, I just don't know this stuff. My brain doesn't work that way and I don't know

the repertoiree. I'm learning, I figure it' s going to take me the rest of my life 'cause I started so

late. I think that surprised people about this piece because they knew I had this disadvantage."225

The bass clarinet is not the sole purveyor of melodic interest in measure 51 but is paired

with a piccolo. The contrast between a low ranged instrument to the extreme high register of the

piccolo is striking. The piccolo line balances the bass clarinet through a descending melodic

line. The duet results in a question-answer dialogue.


225Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.









Unlike its bass clarinet partner, scoring for piccolo dates back several centuries. This

timbre was utilized as early as Jean-Philippe Rameau's tragedie en musique, Dardanusd~~~~dddd~~~~ddd (1739)

and later by Christoph Willibald Gluck in Iphigenie en Tauride (1779). Although scoring for the

piccolo began a generation before Beethoven, it remains most recognizable in the symphonies of

the great master of Bonn (notably in the finale of the Fifth Symphony but also appearing in the

Pastoral and Choral symphonies). The piccolo continues to be a crucial instrument in the

repertoire of military bands but has been infrequently included in the works of western art

composers. The most prominent example resides in Hector Berlioz's Grand Symphonie funebre

et triomphale (1840), originally scored for military band but later transcribed for orchestra.226 In

relation to Higdon, the influence most likely stemmed from her earliest musical experiences in

the marching band.

While the piccolo and the bass clarinet present their soli, the homs forcefully punctuate

brief rhythmic figures recalling their opening motive. At the close of this woodwind duet, the

instrumentation increases gradually to include the strings and a full woodwind section.

Throughout these measures, music and rhythmic figures return from the opening section. In

measure 58, the violins revisit their polyphonic material heard initially in measure 8 while the

oboes sound melodically (although with rhythmic variation) the same perfect fourth and

augmented fourth intervals heard in the percussion section at the opening. Exploration of the

latter interval in transposition continues in the bass and contrabassoon in measure 68 (briefly

imitated in measure 70 in the viola). Several measures later, the same instruments sound the




22 Jeremy Montagu, "Piccolo," Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [12 July 2006]),











interval of a perfect fourth (also transposed). Thus the presentation of the two intervals although

appearing in reverse order is complete.

Fourth intervals also appear in the French horn lines in measure 76. As in measure 29, the

intervals ascend and the line is comprised primarily of perfect fourths. This scoring unifies not

only the two sections that feature this musical line in the horns but also connects the instrument

to the percussion and lower instruments of the orchestra through the continued use of the fourth

interval. In addition, Higdon's penchant for rising melodic lines is further revealed.

A new section commences in measure 82 exuding a dream-like quality. This atmosphere

is attained through the omission of brass instruments that often adds sharpness and brightness to

an ensemble. Consecutive trills in the violins coupled with fast, flowing scalar passages in the

woodwinds precede this passage to aid in amplifying this contrasting mood.

Although this dreamy excursion does not involve the full orchestra, the texture contains a

sufficient amount of density to provide significant contrast before another soloistic adventure

commences. In the first solo section, an accompanying ostinato was scored for the vibraphones

and flute. This next solo features an ostinato pattern with similar instr-umentation providing

further unification within the movement. The flute, piccolo, glockenspiel and marimba are

complemented by the harp and ascending patterns in the celesta continue to enhance the ethereal

atmosphere.

Higdon turns her attention to the strings in this new section to diversify the sound. The

instrumentation for the four soloists varies from the typical string quartet by using only one

violin; the expected second violin is replaced by the bass. 227 The range of the bass is

significantly elevated and in several instances, the instrument plays in a range similar to the first

227 One cannot help but compare this unusual scoring with the "Trout" Quintet of Franz Schubert due to its
popularity within the canon, yet little else recalls the music of Schubert.









violin. The texture of the string soli is homophonic and the like timbres are treated as one

instrument providing a potential explanation to the similar ranges in all four voices. The

function of the strings has changed drastically from initially providing a polyphonic texture with

considerable momentum to sounding as one instrument.

Higdon did not originally conceive these soli as a single instrument. She comments, "I

didn't. Once the strings got going I did think of that, I Eind it fascinating. I thought, 'What

would it sound like to get all the strings moving together?' And I did something really unusual.

They had to play detache in places where they normally wouldn't. They might be doing three

bows or three notes per bow and I (thought), 'Let' s see what it sounds like. How much power

would there be with the Philadelphia string section...it was just me wanting to hear what the

sound was like."228

The marimba ostinato sounds an open fifth interval beginning in measure 82. Only when

the solo strings enter in measure 86 does the interval become more insistent and subsequently, is

presented consecutively on the beat. The consonant perfect fifth complements the warm string

sound yet still remains subtly linked intervallically with the diminished fifths featured previously

by the percussion.

Once the strings complete their soli in measure 93, a curious circumstance transpires. A

solo rhythmic dialogue ensues in the second violins, the instrument previously omitted in the

string quartet solo. This dialogue is notated for divided first desk meaning that not only is the

principal second violinist a soloist but also the assistant principal. (Figure 4-4) When asked

about the uniqueness of this instr-umentation, Higdon stated, "Why not? They're phenomenal





2 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










players and don't get the opportunity."229 Although marked as a solo, the parts do not constitute

a melodic line but rather a continual sounding of the same pitch in a highly rhythmic

environment. Higdon's personal connection with the Philadelphia Orchestra and many of its

members provided additional motivation for such unorthodox orchestral scoring. Indeed, the

composer remarked, "I did know Kim Fisher. I know her very well. Kim...is still the principal

second violin of the Philadelphia Orchestra and I had gone to school with her at Curtis. At one

point when I was a student and I had a piece performed by the Curtis Orchestra, she was the

concertmaster. I couldn't leave her out. Kim would have been very upset with me..."230

Higdon reiterates and expands upon her belief that second violinists are as equally strong players

as the first violinists. "In my head, the second violinists are so good today that they're just as

good as the firsts. All six of my string quartets have really prominent second violin parts and

sometimes the second violin is higher than the first violin. Composers don't ever do that...I

must confess some of the second violinists, often (comment), 'My part' s higher than the first

violin.' (To which I respond,) 'Why not? You (have) all this training.' I look at them as equal.

It' s in my chamber music, too but in this particular piece (Concerto for Orchestra) it's because I

knew the principal player."231

Although Higdon may view all violinists as autonomous, she jokingly recalls that not all

the principal second violinists who perform this solo with their respective ensembles enj oy the

limelight. "Of course there have been a lot of principal second violinists that have not been too



22 David Patrick Stearns, "Jennifer Higdon," 4nd'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
b1lip wilit\\.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=17341hglht&imin=hglgtersjn%2 7Cg
do%2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon: Internet.

230Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

231Ibid.










happy with me since then. 'What are you doing to me?' (they ask)...another comment (I heard),

'I could throw you off a roof. "'232 Always sincere and casual, Higdon laughs at these situations

and says, "I promise I won't do it again."233



1st desk-dlv solo






Figure 4-4. ConZcerto for Orchestra, I, mm. 94-97.234



Once the string quartet completes their soloistic venture, the melodic focus is immediately

returned to the woodwinds. Higdon provides soli for all four instr-uments within the section.

Unlike the preceding homophonic texture of the strings, Higdon achieves contrast in the wind

timbres through independent, individual lines.

The brasses are the next featured soloists in measure 105. Although the solo instruments

are fairly independent, the purveyor of melody is undoubtedly the trumpet. Due to Higdon's

tendency to utilize the trumpets for her characteristic maj or chord progression, it is unsurprising

that these instruments would be given the melodic responsibility.

After the brass exhibition, the composer expands the orchestration to combine soli from

various sections of the ensemble. The solo string quartet returns in measure 116 with

descending major chords similar in pitch and rhythm to the trumpets in measure 29. Between

these solo string statements, the woodwinds sound homophonic figures that serve as antecedents


232Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

2331bid.

234 Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









to the strings' consequences. The perfect fifth intervals are transferred to homs two and four.

Musical material from previous sections clearly continues with a variety of timbral changes until

the end of the section in measure 123.

As touched upon briefly, this movement does not correspond strictly with sonata form

despite the fact that the music retains certain formal elements. Within sonata form, a retransition

is commonly found to close the development that paves the harmonic road to the recapitulation.

In the Classical era, a retransition was frequently characterized by sparse orchestration to

reinforce the appearance of the opening themes in the recapitulation. Higdon uses a similar

technique by scoring brief statements only in the woodwinds and even smaller melodic

fragments in the strings in measure 123. These succinct imitative passages could suggest an

anticipated recapitulation. Although the musical material that follows contains similarities to the

opening, contrasts are sufficient to evade the sense of familiarity found in a sonata form proper.

In addition, throughout the composition thus far, motives and intervallic significance continually

build upon one another which do not correspond particularly well to sonata form.

In measure 128, the strings (tutti) return to the imitative texture seen in the composition's

opening bars but do not simply duplicate the initial musical material. Rather than utilizing the

strings' rising sounds heard at the start of the composition, these imitative segments descend in

pitch. In measure 133, the second trumpet forcefully plays the ascending fourth melodic line that

revisits the homn part previously featured in measure 29. Higdon's proclivity for showcasing the

trumpets with her unique compositional style often was displayed in the exhibition of descending

maj or chords. It is noteworthy, therefore, that the composer chooses this timbre for displaying

the rising sounds prevalent throughout this entire composition. Additional returning material is

heard in the homophonic chords sounded in the second violins and viola (also in measure 133).










Viewing the viola as the foundation, the distance between the pitches in this part and the double

stops in the second violins is comprised of a perfect fifth (the inversion of the perfect fourth) and

augmented fourth intervals that retained a prominent position in the opening bars. (Figure 4-5)

In measure 138, the horns recall their opening motive from measure 2 (in both instances

the dynamic marking is forte) and therefore, instantly recognizable. To enhance this entrance, a

thin orchestration returns only for bar 138. The composer undoubtedly does not choose to

simply restate the opening but to experiment with all of the primary musical material of the

movement.








Figure 4-5. Concerto for Orchestra, I, mm. 133-136.235



In measure 153, the ensemble section initially found in measure 29 returns with only slight

variations. This permits a stronger sense of familiarity than found in the preceding measures

which were marked with an amalgamation of musical motives and themes. This recognition,

however, does not last long and the music is transported quickly.

Beginning in measure 168, Higdon applies various compositional techniques to further

enhance the intensity of the music. Throughout the ensemble, transposition by a minor second,

repetitions and a gradually expanding orchestra are employed to amplify the momentum. After

climaxing as much as she dares within the principal movement, Higdon diminishes the sound to

"niente" and drastically thins the sound in preparation of another soloistic venture.



23Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










Measure 187 corresponds with measure 51 complete with an ostinato figure in the

percussion. Rather than utilizing the bass clarinet and piccolo dialogue, the bassoon and oboe

are featured. Although the instrumentation differs, the soli correspond directly with measure 51

amid additional scoring for several woodwinds. The result is a section that continues to explore

the capabilities of woodwind instruments.

Thus far, three of the core sections of the orchestra have been featured soloists. The

percussion makes its anticipated appearance in measure 205, less than fifty measures from the

close of the movement. The harp and piano are featured soloists that are complemented by an

array of pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments. These include the small triangle,

crotales, glockenspiel and vibraphone which alternate rather quickly. This brief section

functions as a hors d' oeuvre to the exclusive percussion scoring of the fourth movement.

Thematic material from this section derives from measure 94. As seen numerous times

within this movement, Higdon utilizes previous musical material with different instrumental

timbres. Her exploration of similar musical content in various instrumental colors is never far

removed from her compositions and remains part of her style that stems from her fascination

with sound.

As the movement nears its close, the orchestration gradually increases and another

corresponding section occurs between measures 215 and 104. Several measures later (bar 237),

the oboes recall the trumpets' previous primary melodic material from measure 29. Although

such descending chords are a stylistic trait of the composer, the adjustment in timbre and

dynamics provides a distinct ambiance from its earlier character that is apposite to this

unassuming ending.










With a composition bearing the title Concerto for Orchestra, the full ensemble may be

expected to close a movement that featured various solo episodes amidst tutti statements.

Evading predictability in the coda, however, the strings continue their silence in preparation of a

stark timbral contrast at the commencement of the second movement that is scored exclusively

for strings. Higdon closes the movement in a much different manner than its beginning. Gone

from the ending measures is the highly intensive polyphonic texture abounding with rhythmic

verve; the movement ends discreetly with a decrease in tempo and dynamics.

The composer's years in Philadelphia afforded her a familiarity with the "traditionally lush

string sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra."236 About the second movement, Higdon states,

"The entire movement came from that saying 'the Philadelphia string sound."'237 She relished

the opportunity to display this talent and thus emerged the exclusive scoring for strings. With a

string section famous for its luxuriance, one would anticipate a slower tempo with harmonic

richness. Higdon comments on her original conception of the movement, "I wanted that to be a

slow movement. I fought that for the longest time...but the only music coming to me was fast

and finally...I caved into it. But the entire time I wasn't convinced it was going to work until we

got through the first night' s performance. I thought I'd write something lush and slow. It wasn't

happening probably because I wrote slow music in the third movement."238

While the grand opening movement showcased the full ensemble, the second movement

examines the capabilities within the string section. Higdon remarked, "The strings are...the

heart of the orchestra. You hear that sound in any piece you hear when you go to a concert but I



236Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.
2 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
23Ibid.










wanted to see what it sounded like to have the strings play pizzicato and also arco..."239 As a

prominent composer, there can be little doubt that she is quite aware of these contrasts. The

exploration of these effects was chosen, in part, to demonstrate the timbres available within a

string section. She further states, "I was thinking about pizz versus arco, thin versus thick, the

solo strings. I was debating sound."240

Her earlier remark reflects an undeniable historical aspect of the symphonic repertoire. As

Higdon stated, the violins have often been classified as the heart of the orchestra. In its earliest

beginnings, symphonic compositions frequently featured the violins in a primary melodic role

while the winds simply reinforced cadences or increased the volume. This scoring continued

until the latter section developed further that increased these instruments' potentiality for

melodic independence. A shift in string dominance of orchestral instrumentation began

primarily with the mature symphonic settings of Haydn and Mozart and erupted with Beethoven.

In conservative Romantic composers, however, traces of the earlier string significance continued

as witnessed by the early string symphonies of Felix Mendelssohn.

Because of the likeness in timbre, Higdon utilizes different techniques to enhance

contrasts. The alternation from pizzicato to arco in addition to solo scoring and frequent textural

changes accomplishes this diversity. The use of pizzicato is scarcely novel, of course but due to

rare use in this composition, the sudden change of sound in the opening of the second movement

alters the timbre and atmosphere considerably.





239Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, "Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [7 July
2006]
bli w\ il itpittsburghsymphony.org/pghsymph.nsf/concr+itns2D948A94827306D4?p
document.

2 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










In the liner notes to the recording, Nick Jones describes this movement as similar to a

scherzo.241 The composer concurs and explains the music as "a little bit of a dance actually, a

romp through the string section."242 The etymology of the term scherzo derives from the

German "scherzen" translated to English as the verb "to j oke."243 The form of a scherzo has

remained predominantly ternary and stems directly from the minuet and trio, its earlier dance-

movement predecessor. In the early nineteenth century, the scherzo was often performed before

and following a trio section resulting in a tripartite structure. Although the structure of this

movement is ternary244 and contains a spirited tempo, the score does not suggest any implication

of the original j testing character associated with a scherzo. This quality, however, is not

essential. In the music of Beethoven, movements marked in this form often lose the jocular

association as do Chopin' s four piano scherzi. Higdon comments on the Jones' liner notes of her

recording, "I wasn't thinking of it that way (as a scherzo) 'cause my brain was still wanting slow

music but it wasn't coming out that way...it is kind of scherzo-like...it' s kind of (a) romping

along sort of feeling. It really is a dance for strings...I came to think of it that way 'cause the

strings roll along. It does have a B section in there."245





241Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.

24Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, "Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [7 July
2006]
b1lip w\ il \t .pittsburghsymphony.org/pghsymph.nsf/concr+itns2D94 8A94827306D4?p
document.

24Tilden A. Russell and Hugh MacDonald, "Scherzo," Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [14 July 2006]),


24Early examples of scherzi assume a plethora of forms and do not necessarily correspond to ternary. Correlations
between ternary forms and scherzi evade a solid connection and therefore do little to enhance the argument that
Higdon's second movement is a scherzo.

24Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










Initially, a different B section was included, but later Higdon composed an alternative.

The latter was chosen to replace the original. She states, "I'm glad I threw out the right one

'cause the one I ended up with was more appropriate. At one point it (the omitted B section) was

just too far off. I can't even remember the texture but I listened to it...(and thought), 'It doesn't

work, it doesn't work.' And I wrote another one, the one that's currently there and I thought, 'I

don't know if I like this as much,' but it fits better so I left that one."246

During the eighteenth century when symphonies and concert were embarking upon their

j ourney as standard concert genres, the tempo of the second movement contrasted with the

preceding allegro movement. This pattern gradually changed in the nineteenth century as

evidenced by spirited second movements in the symphonies of, among others, Robert Schumann

and Mendelssohn. Symphonic poems further challenged the formal structures and tempi of

accepted practices and, by the dawn of the twentieth century, a predictable standard of a second

movement within a multi-movement composition became elusive. Higdon's employment of two

consecutive fast movements, therefore, is not unorthodox.

The movement begins pizzicato and immediately the pitch content stipulates comparison

with the first movement. In the composition's opening, the first violins initiated an imitative

passage based on a "subj ect" comprised of "B-C#-D-E-F." In the second movement, the unison

violins pluck "B-C-D-E." The motive is then repeated and expanded to include an F#. The

openings of the two movements are remarkably similar not only in pitch content but also in

instrumentation. Barring pure coincidence, which seems highly unlikely, one must deem these

measures as a compositional device to enhance unity between the individual movements.247 The



246Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

247 Higdon did not compose consciously a connection between the first two movements. Due to its striking
similarity, however, it seems likely this is her subconscious compositional method at work. She states, "I didn't










five pitches are the basis for much of the second movement and like the opening movement the

primary pitches are eventually treated imitatively in the lower strings.

The violins play in unison only while stating the opening motive. As the only instruments

playing in the first measure, this unison scoring provides further emphasis of the borrowed

material from the first movement. Immediately following this statement, the violins and viola

assume a polyphonic texture. A continuous pedal pizzicato note occurs on B in the celli and the

bass to counteract the highly intense rhythmic activity in the upper strings. The motives that

pass through the strings are quite concise. The composer recalls the purpose for the brevity and

the resulting dance-like effects. "I wanted to write longer lines for the strings. I went into

Curtis, I wrote it out and I asked the kids in my class, my twentieth century music class, 'How

long can you do these (pizzicato) at this speed without hurting yourself!' They said, 'Well you

better only do it a beat or two because that's actually pretty fast.' It was a practical consideration

to keep from hurting the players. But what ended up happening when you're in a live

performance of this piece...It looks like a dance because it' s getting handed off and I didn't

realize that because I stayed backstage in most of the performances. I was so nervous but people

kept coming up to me afterwards saying, 'Oh my God, those strings were dancing in the second

movement.' The people who were in the balcony could actually see the trade-offs, but it' just a

practical consideration of what would be dangerous for the players because they could hurt

themselves easily at that speed. This is 'cause the kids at Curtis said, 'Dr.Higdon, don't do more








realize the connection between the first and the second movement. I learned something today. Probably on a
subconscious level I'd be willing to bet, my brain did make that connection."-- Jennifer Higdon, interview by author,
tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.





















'
f
.


Jf
plu: ,


than this.' I (thought), 'Alright, I'll figure out a way to write it.' So that' s how we got the motive

the way it is."248 (Figure 4-6)


Vln. 1



Vln.Z


Figure 4-6. ConZcerto for Orchestra, II, mm. 1-2.249




In measure 10, the ostinato is lowered by a half step (Bb). The unifying motive from the


opening is also transposed down by a minor second. The consistent sounding of motivic phrases

combined with the pedal pizzicato continues through bar 17.

Although a new section does not commence in measure 17, the instrumentation alternates


to provide the bass and cello (combined with the viola) the motivic material initially scored for

the violins. The sound assumes a different character not only in the change of instrumentation

but also in dynamic contrast (now marked forte compared to the opening's mezo forte), but this

is simply a re-statement of the opening material varied in an intelligent manner. This restatement

is further enhanced by the return of the harmonic language to the initial "subj ect' s" B natural.

The violins are entrusted with the purveyor of an ostinato pattern similar to the lower

strings' opening. Unlike the initial presentation, the ostinato in measure 17 is not performed in

unison; Higdon commences to make use of the chordal potential of string instruments by scoring

2 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

249 Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










double stops in the violins. The composer provides a musical indication, "ala guitar" above the

violins. The pizzicato violins in combination with double stops instantly achieve the desired

strumming "guitar" effect.

In measure 21, the lower strings maintain a separate homophonic texture from the violins

that provides a brief moment of relaxation from the preceding polyphonic activity. This measure

serves as transitional material to a new musical idea beginning in measure 22. The tutti strings

merge to commence a new ostinato beneath the five soloists about to enter.

Higdon's trademark perfect fifth interval appears in various guises in measure 22. The

ostinato pizzicati of the violins are separated by this interval. In addition, the first violin solo's

opening pitches sound an ascending perfect fifth. As mentioned in the discussion of the first

movement, rising sounds are prevalent throughout this entire composition and hence, it is

significant that the initial solo in the second movement begins with this distinguishing feature.

Finally, it bears noting that an inversion of the fifth interval is depicted in the ostinati of the viola

and cello. (Figure 4-7)

The principal soli are performed arco, the first appearance of the style in this movement.

The soli are neither imitative in pitch content nor rhythm and act as solely independent melodic

lines. Higdon conquers inherent balancing obstacles by maintaining pizzicato (tutti) beneath the

arco soloists.

Although the soloists' material is not imitative, Higdon does incorporate a few

compositional curiosities that link the soloists' melodic lines to one another. The opening

pitches of the second violin' s solo in measure 23 are sounded in retrograde by the first violin in

the subsequent measure. Also in this bar, an imitative instance occurs in the viola that

incorporates a restatement of its initial material in the following bar. Because the tempo is quite



























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--


spirited, these occurrences may not be overtly identifiable to the ear yet remains a point of

interest in the compositional analysis. Finally, the string bass solo enters with a continuous

ascending line that serves as a unifying contour throughout the work. (Figure 4-8)


SOLo /


Figure 4-7. ConZcerto for Orchestra, II, mm. 22.250



The pizzicato ostinato pattern in the tutti strings gradually appears less consistently before

eventually becoming tacet in measure 29. At this point, the homophonic texture of the ostinato

is transferred to the soloists to contrast another polyphonic episode about to commence. During

this homophonic activity, the violins are separated by the interval of a perfect fourth (as are the

celli and the basses). The significance of this interval cannot be overstated and is simply an

inversion of Higdon' s trademark perfect fifth.








250Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










1231


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measure 22 but transposed a minor second higher.252 This once soloistic material has been

varied a number of ways. As in measure 22, the significant interval of a fourth separates the

voices.

Measure 44 concludes the tutti restatement of the solo section and the music returns to the

polyphonic activity initially presented in measure 10. Subtle differences are employed for aural

contrasts such as independent lines for the lower strings originally played in unison and of course

the imitative "subj ect" now presented through arco scoring. This marks the first appearance of


251Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

2 This transposition recalls a similar occurrence found in measure 10 that transposed the opening polyphonic
material by a lowered minor second.










the "subject" performed in this manner. Although the pitches are almost exact replications of

measure 10, the change from pizzicato to arco grants a stark distinction. In addition, Higdon

notates accents in the upper strings' melodic lines that were absent from the previous

corresponding measures. The accents are neither rhythmically consistent nor do they appear to

conform to any specific pattern. The effect highly increases the unpredictability, urgency and

momentum of the movement.

Measure 51 corresponds to earlier material from measure 17 with several variances to

maintain the music's energy. The homophonic ostinato double-stop chords previously sounded

in the violins now appear in the celli and bass parts. The intervallic structure of the celli consists

of minor thirds which are simply inversions of the previously heard second violins' maj or

sixths.253 The "ala guitara" indication is omitted in measure 51 and the ostinato chords are no

longer arpeggiated. Instead, these chords are now performed arco in an innovative polyrhythmic

pattern. The celli play consecutive eighth notes while the basses utilize duplets that provide

higher rhythmic complexity not yet seen in this movement.

Above this altered ostinato pattern, the upper strings employ imitation at the octave.

Although neither the structure of the melody nor the pacing of the imitation corresponds to

measure 17, the ostinato pattern and polyphonic texture provide the connecting link while

simultaneously allowing the violins and the viola to explore free material.

In measure 55, the ostinato pattern in the bass changes abruptly from a perfect fifth interval

to a unison E. This pitch is a perfect fourth interval from the original ostinato found in the

movement' s opening. Although the ostinati are simply accompanimental passages, this




253The use of inversion to vary significant sections appears fairly frequently in Higdon's orchestral music as noted
with the numerous inversions of the perfect fifth.










occurrence seems noteworthy in providing a potential unifying link throughout the entire

movement.

New melodic material appears in measure 59 in the upper strings while the celli and bass

prolong the ostinato. As in measure 22, the ostinato gradually occurs less frequently before

becoming altogether tacet. The violins and viola return to an imitative polyphonic texture in

which the intervals in the viola line are immediately echoed by the second violins and later by

the first violins. True to her affinity for certain intervals, Higdon chooses to use the perfect

fourth/perfect fifth for such displays.

A previously unseen motive appears in the cello beginning in measure 68 that necessitates

commentary. Because this motive is the only material in the lower strings at this juncture, its

sudden appearance is quite conspicuous. The new motive is featured several times in the celli

before polyphonic manipulation occurs in the bass and eventually the viola. These sightings

appear more frequently and ultimately overlap at a rapid pace. In addition, the contour of this

new motive utilizes the continuous rising line that permeates the entire composition.

Undoubtedly, this movement is highly polyphonic, even more so than the first movement.

The form is not a fugue in structure although certain imitative material is more prominent.

Therefore, referring to this cello motive as an occurrence of "stretto" is not entirely accurate.

Stretto is technically defined as, "the procedure of beginning a second statement of the subj ect

before the preceding statement has finished, so that the two overlap."25 Paul Walker also states

in his definition that by the mid-seventeenth century, this technique was frequently employed

near the conclusion of a composition to increase excitement and intensity.25 Although Higdon


25Paul Walker, "Stretto," Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [17 July 2006]),


25Ibid.










exhibits the motive in precisely this manner and it indeed appears near the end of the movement,

she chose not to use the original imitative material in the opening measure but instead introduces

a new motive altogether. (Figure 4-9)










Figure 4-9. ConZcerto for Orchestra, II, cello motive, mm. 68-69, 71-72.256



One may realistically expect returning musical material appearing in various guises

throughout a select movement or composition to serve as a unifying device. The composer

continues this trait as exhibited in measure 81. The violins sound minor third intervals (along

with its inversion) that briefly recall a similar scoring in measure 17 while simultaneously

evoking the lower strings' harmonic pattern in measure 51. Although the intervals are not

exactly replicated, the scoring and consistent repetitions recreate the earlier passages.

Measure 92 initiates a return to the initial "subject" material. By truncating the original

motive to only three notes, the music is intensified naturally. The melodic interest retains the

initial scoring of violins and viola complete with the Bb ostinato scored separately for cello and

bass.

As the movement nears its close, Higdon returns to several musical ideas heard previously

throughout the movement. These recurring musical sections, however, do not appear in the same

order as their initial presentations. While measure 99 corresponds to measure 51, immediately

following in measure 106, Higdon recalls the solo section initially heard in measure 22.

256Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










Although the instrumentation is nearly identical in the latter circumstance, a new verve urgently

pushes the music forward. All strings are equally divided between the melody and the ostinato

rather than utilizing solo lines as in its earlier appearance. This slight change offers a new found

momentum that aids the close of this "romp through the string section."25

The coda commences in measure 115. One of the composer' s unique stylistic elements

is included as a personal signature to close the movement. The first violins and cello are playing

perfect fifth intervals (although occasionally inverted). The harmonic focus of these two

instruments is B and F#. If viewed through the glasses of tonality, this may easily be analyzed as

a consistent tonic-dominant harmonic progression. (Figure 4-10) Stressing these two chords at

the close of a movement occurs habitually throughout the Common Practice Period and

contemporary audiences remain familiar with such an ending. Because communication with

audiences ranks high on Higdon' s list of musical importance, it is unsurprising to find the second

movement closing in this accepted and time-tested manner.

The incorporation of an ostinato bass pattern is fairly characteristic of Higdon and also

appears in measure 115. Rather than simply a repeated note as in the beginning, a descending

line is used to imply the key of b minor that further strengthens the argument for tonality when

combined with the B and F# in the upper strings. The ostinato varies after several presentations

and by measure 119, only 10 measures from the close, the basses regularly sound the pitches of

B and F#.





25Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, "Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [7 July
2006]
bli w\ il itpittsburghsymphony.org/pghsymph.nsf/concr+itns2D948A94827306D4?p
document.









MRIS

















Figure 4-10. Con~certo for Orchestra, II, mm. 115-116.258



The movement closes convincingly with two b minor chords played fortissimo. The final

pitch of the movement is a unison b scored as a snap pizzicato thus bringing the movement full

circle to its pizzicato opening. Higdon states her purpose in scoring a snap pizzicato, "I thought,

'I' d love to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra do a snap pizz together.' Alright, let' s put it in, that' s

actually how it happened. Like a kid in a candy shop to be quite honest. Someone had given me

the biggest box of crayons around and I was going to have fun with it. Joy in sound."259

The composing of Concerto for Orchestra began with the third movement. Higdon

recalls how various instrumental soli became the primary feature of this movement. "So many of

the players were asking me for solos or wanting things specifically so...I decided (that

movement) was just going to be solos featuring the principal players... This piece was so big I

knew that I had to go with whichever felt instinctively like the first movement to write (and)




258Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

259Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










because I had the most ideas for the solos, I just started there...otherwise I never would have

started, I was too nervous about it."260

Because the work follows an arch-form structure, this movement represents the peak of

the entire composition.261 Arch-form is loosely defined as "a musical form that is symmetric in

time and climaxes in the middle."262 Higdon remarked that she did not actually conceive the

composition as an arch-structure but did consciously strive to make the third movement the heart

of the work. The similarities of scoring separate sections of the orchestra in movements two and

four add credence to the arch form hypothesis. In the composers' words, "But it does kind of

have an arch. It makes perfect sense. It's tutti orchestra in I, III and V. The faster music's in I

and V. That makes sense."263 When asked if she reduced the scoring in the second and fourth

movement to enhance the arch form, Higdon states, "No I literally thought, 'Don Liuzzi wants to

play percussion."'264

The third movement reaches its zenith through featuring not only individual sections of

the orchestra but soli for principal players as well. The result is a more extensive exploration

between the full ensemble, sections and soloists than seen in the first movement and displays the

orchestral capabilities under the hands of a master craftsperson. Higdon states that the entire

movement is comprised of soli. "All the principal players have their own solo so you get a

chance to hear everybody all the way up from the first violins down to the bass player even the



261)Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

261Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.
262Traditional & Folk Music-Encyclopedic Dictionary, "arch form," [17 July 2006]

263Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
2641bid.










principal second violin has a solo which is a little unusual. But there's a lot of talent in an

orchestra and I wanted to show it."265

Unlike the opening two movements, the third carries a descriptive adj ective rather than a

sole metronome marking. The tempo is defined as quarter note=92-108 accompanied by the

term "mystical." As noted previously, Higdon does not subscribe to organized religion but

describes herself as a spiritual person. Regarding her childhood religious experiences, she states,

"No one in the family went to a church regularly, but we had spiritual books around the

household, everything from Buddhism to the Bible. I am a really spiritual person, but I don't

follow any particular doctrine. Writing music feels a bit like prayer."266

Spirituality may be interpreted in a myriad of ways and Higdon does not specify the

precise meaning she ascribes to her use of "mystical" allowing for open interpretation and

assumptions. Mystical is technically defined as "having a spiritual meaning or reality that is

neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence."267 Higdon states that "the number

three doesn't have to do with anything (such as a reference to the Holy Trinity); it was a

coincidence just because that was the size of orchestra I used. The winds were in threes

because...it' s too expensive to play a piece if winds (are) in four. It was a practical







265Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, "Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [7 July
2006]
I1lllp w\ il \\.pittsburghsymphony.org/pghsymph.nsf/concr+itns2D948A94827306D4?p
document.

266 JaSon Victor Serinus, Illi~lleI ell. The Award-Winning Jennifer Higdon," Secrets of Home Theater and High
Fidelity, June 2005 (Accessed [8 July 2006]), jennifer-higdon-6 -2005. html>

26 Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary, "Mystical," (Accessed [7 July 2006]) w.com/dictionary/Mrstical.>









consideration."268 When this author mentioned the division by threes in the violas in measure

10, the composer stated, "That's an accident. Totally subconscious."269

The first connotation associated with the "mystical" marking and the number three is

immediately apparent since only the third movement bears such an adjective. Movements one,

two and Hyve simply include a metronome marking (movement four' s tempo also uses a

metronome marking along with the directions "Freely & Together") Featured soloists also

appear in groupings of three in the third movement which invites further speculation on Higdon' s

subconscious use of spirituality. Finally, instances abound that divide a single instr-umental

section into three separate lines. A more than merely coincidental phenomenon is not only

plausible but likely due to this movement' s generous incorporation of the number three.

The movement begins with a soft dynamic marking to create a mystical atmosphere.

Similar to the second movement' s opening link to the first movement, connections are

immediately apparent between the second movement and the beginning of the third. The

exclusive string sound from the second movement is presented in the initial measures of the third

movement complemented by the small triangle, glockenspiel and harp. Additional unity is

provided through the alternation in the lower strings from an arco to pizzicato style, a

compositional element utilized extensively in the second movement. Finally, the opening pitches

in the strings, harp and piano consistently sound the pitches of F and Bb, both of which Eigured

prominently in the preceding movement. (Figure 4-11)

When asked about a correlation between the pizzicato and arco sounds in movements two

and three, Higdon states that unifying the two movements was not intended initially. Explaining



268Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
2691bid.









the conception of the eerie ambience of the third movement, she states, "I hadn't thought about it

(the similar alternation of pizzicato and arco styles in movements two and three) because I was

trying to create mysterious sounds and I knew it was like when you whisper, you draw them in. I

knew iflI did that in the strings it would (increase the attention of) the audience. That' s all it

was. I was playing with the audience. That and...I saw a movie around that time (with) a sound

effect ...I think part of that must have been from some movie I saw around that time, too. I

remember thinking, 'That' s an interesting sound,' but (it) is so different that it makes) you stop

in that movement. Everything's been a straightforward sound up to that point. So, even though I

was writing that movement first I thought, 'Let' s create some magic to set up the solos.' What

would create solo magic? I always find string harmonics interesting, that's why there' s some

natural harmonics in that movement."270 Regardless of how the composer initially acquired the

sound, there is no doubt a similarity between movements two and three.

In measure 7, the piano presents a stylistic Higdon ostinato. Almost inaudible, the pattern

consists solely of two alternating pitches F and E (the latter acts as a neighboring tone). The

vibraphone, consistently sounding an F, continues the significance of this note in relation to third

movement' s opening harmonic scheme. Brief imitative passages utilizing a descending perfect

fourth occur between the chimes and the piano. It is interesting to note that an ascending perfect

fourth, the inversion of Higdon' s favored interval, was the initial sound of the entire work.

The violas, divided into three, produce major triads beginning in measure 10. These

chords testify to Higdon's unique style and were frequent within trumpet passages in the first

movement. The viola progression travels slowly in whole tone motion and the scoring for this

passage provides a degree of warmth to the music. The exploration of this orchestral section in


27Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










the third movement rather than second may be attributed to the order in which the movements

were composed. Since the third movement was written first, the appearance of the lush string

sound verifies that Higdon was indeed influenced by the ensemble's reputation.





S=9)2-108 Ivystical






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271Jelife Higon Cocet r rhetr PhlaephaP: awo~rss 00)










additional two flutes in homophonic texture. These flute soli initiate a pattern followed by

subsequent soli that continues throughout the woodwind section.

The flute soli cease in measure 3 5 followed by a brief transition that recalls the

movement' s string opening. At bar 39, the maj or chord accompaniment scored initially for the

violas is re-orchestrated for three trombones.

Higdon continues to feature the woodwinds with an oboe solo in measure 42. Similar to

the presentation of the flutes, the principal oboist is given a brief melody before being j oined by

the other players in the section. Only during the principal melody do the trombones continue

their maj or chord progression (in bar 56, upon the entrance of the second oboe, the trombones

are replaced by the returning violas). (Figure 4-12)

Blending the timbres of an oboe with three trombones is highly unusual. The composer

remained uncertain of this sound until the initial rehearsal. "I worried about the oboe solo

accompanied by three trombones, so at the first rehearsal, I tried having (the) trombones muted.

But it wasn't a lush sound, so we removed the mutes and I said, 'That's it, right there!"',272

In measure 56, a change in texture provides a stark contrast between the presentation of

the flutes and oboes. While the flutes exhibited homophonic texture, the oboes present

polyphonic lines based on the octatonic scale. (Figure 4-13) While the oboes continue their

melodic line, the celli and bass join the violas to provide accompanimental material in measure

63.

The clarinets subsequently appear with the solo material in measure 78. In the previous

presentation by the flutes and oboes, the principal chairs played a substantial solo line before the


27David Patrick Stearns, "Jennifer Higdon," 4nd'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
bli wilit andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=17341hglht&imin=hglgtersjn%2 7Cg
do%2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon: Internet.










remaining members of the section entered. In contrast, the three clarinets enter almost

simultaneously. Higdon combines textural elements from both the flute and the oboe sections

by scoring the three clarinets imitatively followed by a homophonic texture. In addition, the

aural palette is diversified by a varied accompanimental pattern with new instrumentation.

Rather than utilizing maj or chords in the viola or trombones, the second violins alternate maj or

seconds that recall the minor second ostinato of the piano during the flute soli. (Figure 4-14)




SOLO


Obn. 1. ,
















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27Jnifuer Higdon Concerto for Orchestra (Piladlpia PA: Lawon res,202)








274Jennifer Higdon, ionterviewr by austhr, ap rPaeordinAlta, GA a.,o 19 eptebe 2006).










lessen the brightness of the timbre against the solo clarinet. The piano j oins the second violins to

continue the ostinato in slower note values but the major second interval has been inverted to a

minor seventh.275 The composer remarks on the change, "I did invert that. I do remember doing

that intentionally there 'cause I wanted the same sound but I needed something different. It had

to be different enough to clear out for the clarinet to be heard along with the trumpets (since)

that' s the first time I had separate material on top of a clarinet. I probably just said, 'What would

go with the solo clarinet there?' And I did look at the second violin and thought, 'If I do a minor

7th, I'm going to have a problem here because that' s a wide leap, so I (have) to divide the strings

to thin the sound enough that the clarinet can break though.' Every time we rehearse this with an

orchestra, we always tell the second violins, 'Play less, play less.' It's a problem; that leap really

makes the sound pop out much more than I wanted. I wasn't thinking theoretically in terms of

the harmonic movement but I was thinking (of) the inversion of the major 2nd. I remember

thinking, 'Yeah the 7th would work well... this is one of those spots where I did invert (the

interval) because I...(had) to change the sound (to) be interesting"'276

The principal clarinet solo ceases abruptly in measure 95 followed immediately by the

presentation of the bassoon. True to the composer' s penchant for creating aural assortment,

Higdon varies the manner in which the soloists are featured. The principal bassoon is initially

provided with a melodic line that is instantly extended through diminution. Beneath the solo, the

second bassoon and the contrabassoon move in thirds in their own rhythm. In the final phrase of

this passage, all three bassoons combine to form a homophonic texture. The second bassoon and



2 Several earlier examples of a similar occurrences show the significance Higdon attaches not only to individual
intervals but also to their inversions. Although not likely to be noticed by the ear, this compositional curiosity
proves captivating from an analytical standpoint.
27Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.














the contrabassoon, previously marked mezzo piano, join the principal in a forceful final



statement that results in a spirited conclusion to the section featuring the woodwinds.






56


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Figure 4-13. ConZcerto or Orchestra, III, mm. 56-62.277


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Figure 4-14. ConZcerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 82-86.278






277Jemlifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).


2781bid.


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Throughout the bassoon-featured section, additional melodies soli are written in the violins

for the assistant concertmaster and the first desk of the second violins. This unusual

orchestration of soli within the second violins was initially explored in the first movement, but

outside of this unorthodox scoring, no musical connection is apparent between the movements.

This unusual instrumental choice for soli is a testament that the composition tr-uly is a concerto

for the entire orchestra. The three violins present maj or chords below the bassoon solo; the

violin soli cease in measure 106 in anticipation of the bassoons' Einal phrase.

In measure 106, an accompanimental pattern is found in the second violins that recall their

ostinato in measure 78. Initially consisting of alternating maj or seconds, the composer varies the

sound in measure 106 by changing the maj or seconds to minor seconds and placing it in a lower

279
rang~e.

Although several instances of returning material were present in both solo and

accompanying passages, Higdon varied the music convincingly to avoid what could easily

become predictable and tiresome in the hands of a less conscientious composer.

Beginning in measure 108, the remainder of the orchestra gradually re-enters. A new

section is not immediately apparent since the homophonic texture of the continuing bassoons

links the woodwind section to this transitional material. The composer's signature major chords

are presented by the flutes and first violins. The intensity gradually increases with additional

scoring of maj or chords and the eventual inclusion of the full orchestra.

Much has been made of the importance of the fifth interval within Higdon' s symphonic

writing. Within this movement, its first notable appearance occurs in measure 123. The bass,

timpani, tuba, contrabassoon, horns, celli, harp and the left hand of the piano consistently sounds


279NOteworthy in comparison is the piano's ostinato found in measure 7 that also oscillates between minor seconds.













Eifth intervals (or inversions). Because the scoring of these intervals transpires in the bass


instruments of the orchestra, the sound is quite prevalent. When asked about her frequent use of


fifth intervals, the composer stated, "I use a lot of fourths and fifths. It used to be a lot of


tritones, (but) that's eased out through the years...that was from Bart6k actually 'cause I love


that sound but I'm careful about that unless I'm writing something extremely pointy. My


tritones evened out the fifths and fourths."280 (Figure 4-15)


Hp. '11~_~ ~C~~T~---i---I

~A 1 'II 'II

Pn._.r __r.





I.imp. i~-t---~J~" ; --? 1





Cb. '7!


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i

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riri_ ~b:'r


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Figure 4-15. Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 123-126.281





The intensity that emerged from the full ensemble is brought to a close in measure 127.


The orchestration returns to a sparse texture to complete the Einal woodwind commentary. The


three flutes and two clarinets play a brief passage while the chimes sound the perfect fourth


interval found in the opening measures of this movement. Because these intervals are marked at


a piano dynamic marking, the focus remains clearly on the woodwinds. By recalling the




2soJennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

2siJennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










beginning interval, the chimes provide unification within a movement intent on displaying

timbral contrasts.

In measure 129, the strings return as the primary featured soloists while the woodwinds

gradually diminish in number and volume to create a seamless transition. Unlike the polyphonic

texture utilized frequently throughout the woodwind soli section, the strings commence

immediately with a brief homophonic texture in measure 129. Each of the string instruments

appear individually contrary to the trios customarily found previously in the woodwinds.

The composer's inclination toward featuring unexpected instruments continues with a solo

for the bass, the first stringed instrument to be featured in the section. The melodic line is

scored in a relatively high range and, although not a direct quotation, the contour of the line and

rhythmic freedom allude to the opening flute solo of measure 12. The independent statements of

the strings are separated by concise homophonic phrases by all Hyve soloists. The second violin

solo enters in measure 139 and similar to the bass, is scored in a high range. As the string

section progresses, each individual instrument receives a smaller solo. In comparison to the

woodwind section, the strings' melodic lines are quite truncated presumably because of the

attention this section received in the preceding movement.

While the cello embarks on its melodic sojourn in measure 146, several Higdon stylistic

traits appear in the accompanimental passages. Not only is the ostinato pattern of alternating

maj or and minor seconds re-orchestrated for the flutes, but the vibraphone sounds a

countermelody comprised primarily of perfect fourths. The opening interval consists of the exact

same pitches as the descending fourth initially presented by the chimes in measure 8 that exhibits

again the composer's predilection for referencing previous material. Higdon extends this

concept further through the inclusion of a gradually ascending line in the vibraphone. Although










somewhat difficult to find unifying links between the individual movements, the concept of

ascending material may serve as such a device due to its extensive presence in this work.

The only extended solo in the strings occurs in measure 159; the first violin has an

ascending passage lasting until bar 171. (Figure 4-16) This solo returns in measure 246 to close

the movement. It is interesting to note that, although several unorthodox soli were found in

earlier sections, the historically significant role of the concertmaster has not been lost on Higdon.









Figure 4-16. Concerto for Orchestra, III, concert master solo, mm. 159-162.282



To bridge the string soli with the next section, Higdon tumns again to the opening motive of

this movement characterized by the alternation of pizzicato and arco in measure 172 that also

appeared in measure 35. Although the transition is rhythmically varied from its original

statement, the musical material remains quite recognizable and continues a sense of unity within

the movement.

Continuing on her quest to feature all orchestral sections, Higdon subsequently turns her

attention to the brass in measure 175. In contrast to the woodwinds and strings, Higdon does not

present each section of the brass individually. Through consistently varying the manner in which

instruments appear, she maintains a high musical interest.

The horns announce the opening of the brass section with maj or chords while the strings

simultaneously complete the transitory passage. (A similar situation occurred during the


28Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









commencement of the string soli that continued to utilize the woodwinds in an accompanimental

role). Higdon employs four horns; yet because horns two and four are doubled only three

different pitches sound.

The low brass instruments exhibit an imitative texture stemming from the solo scored for

tuba in measure 177, an exact replication of the principal oboe solo in bar 42. This line is

subsequently imitated by the trombone and the bass trombone respectively. The French horns

also allude to this solo in their opening interval of a minor sixth in measure 180 (the initial

melody began with a major sixth). Yet the brass soli do not constitute the only reference to

measure 42. The aforementioned string transitory passage provides an additional unifying link

since a similar section occurred prior to the oboe solo. Finally, the accompanying passages

provide further similarities. In measure 42, the oboe was accompanied by maj or chords in the

trombones. When the material returns in measure 177, the major chords are retained but re-

orchestrated for the low string instruments.

A variety of brass instruments continue to play similar material to the oboe passage. A

true testament to Higdon's masterful craftsmanship is prominently displayed: while introducing

familiar material, she imbues it with a sparkle of originality and freshness. Previously, the

principal oboe was the sole purveyor of melody, while here Higdon alternates the line between

separate brass instruments. In each setting, the passage lasts precisely fourteen measures which

does not contain any particular significance but remains a compositional curiosity. (Figure 4-17)























SDL O
TBa.






Figure= 4-17 CocrofrOcetaII m 7-8.8



One col esnbyatcpteacniun orsodec ihteoo asg

thogotte rs-etre eto.Hidnde eur h mttietxueoftetooo


soli frmmaue5 ua xetdo hscmosr h eodapaac satrdi h


cor 2repnin mesrof11(Fgr4-8Rahrtautlzntw intmetofheae


tibre, th ilgei rsne ytetidtume n h eodtobn.Tecmoe

copemns hs asaebya ddtonlsoono oudinmaur 6:te ua rvie

varition o h hr besl rmmaue6.Hidnhsahee otatadrptto

simultaneouslytr~o ug itr ftmrsadvrigtepaeeto uia ttmns

28Jnie idn Cnet o rhsra(hldlha A Lwo rs,20)














SOLI

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J'




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Figure 4-18. Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 191-192.284




The manipulation and polyphonic treatment of the three borrowed oboe lines continue


throughout the brass section culminating in a fairly complex environment. This plethora of


musical activity gradually returns the orchestra to its full grandeur in measure 210. Higdon


partially references the large orchestral section in measure 116 through rhythmic and melodic

similarities. This varied restatement progresses until measure 231 when it is followed by an


immediate thinning of the orchestration to enable the final soli to be audibly coherent.


The composer's unorthodox solo scoring of individual strings returns in the celli in


measure 234. Initially played by the first two stands, the soli continues in measure 236 utilizing


only the first stand. The melodic material at this juncture consists of alternating maj or seconds.

The coda of the third movement recalls earlier core musical material from the beginning of


this movement. In measure 238, the strings sound a truncated version of their opening material.


As previously stated, this passage also served as transitional material between larger sections

within the movement. Simultaneously, the harp reiterates the ostinato (complete with


oscillating minor seconds) initially found in the piano in measure 7. (Figure 4-19)


28Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).















__
_





:r '

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r .. .r r r


ET El EL
~


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~p --?s~:_a~.~_.~~.-- "*P


Figure 4-19. Concerto for Orchestra, III, mm. 238-244.285





Not to be outdone, the celli also provide a link to the opening of the movement in


measure 245 that recalls the viola section of measure 10 through the marking con sordino, the


scoring of a maj or chord progression and dividing the section in threes. In the final bars of the


movement, the chimes sound the ever prominent interval of a perfect fourth. Although


transcribed, this familiar sound undoubtedly stems from its initial appearance in measure 8. The


principals of each woodwind section have melodic lines as well that recall their earlier featured


section. In measure 239, the principal flute exhibits the primary melodic material that is actually


a much abbreviated account of its initial solo in measures 12 and 14. The homophonic texture of


28Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).




127









the supporting woodwinds in combination with the mixture of their various timbres emulates a

similar orchestration device present in the brass passage. Finally, as stated above, the

concertmaster' s solo in the closing bars of the movement echoes the similar material in measure

159. (Figure 4-20) Due to plentiful references to the opening of the third movement, the

material in the coda harkens to its own beginning that effectively brings the movement full

circle.



245


















i cn. th rvosmvmn.Ti oeet hrfretbihsteeult ewe l
instruments~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ nede fo opsto o eatytte onet o rhsra.Bcus h

28Jenfe igo, net o rhsr PiaepiP:Lwo rs,20)










work thus far provided little solo attention to the percussion, an enormous contrast is

immediately present at the commencement of this movement. Higdon's exclusive scoring for

strings in the second movement and percussion in the fourth enhances the arch-form structure.

In addition, the two particular movements occupy similar durations that minister in balancing the

elaborate and lengthier full orchestral movements.

On the Pittsburgh Symphony's web-site, Higdon explains her motivation for the

unorthodox percussion scoring. "I did this because the percussion section is the one section of

the orchestra that has developed the most in the twentieth century. It' s the one section that has

added instruments, and the skill of the players has probably developed more than in any other

section. I decided to make a movement which would have the quietest sounds in this entire piece

in the percussion."287 An additional rationale for the movement was simply "because Don

Liuzzi the timpanist wanted to play percussion."288 Although a fairly diverse number of

percussive instruments have already been displayed periodically in movements one and three, the

complete inventory listed in the preface to the score is explored in greater detail in the fourth

movement.

The fourth movement bears the slowest tempo of the entire composition (quarter note=42).

In doing so, Higdon provides an opportunity to savor the multiple timbres still unfamiliar to

many an ear. The movement begins with pitched instruments played by a bow. Higdon states,

"Notice the percussionists' beginning when they're bowing their instruments, something that the





28Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, "Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [7 July
2006]
bli w\ il itpittsburghsymphony.org/pghsymph.nsf/concr+itns2D948A94827306D4?p
document.

28Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










string player would normally do."289 By referring to a technique commonly associated with

strings, this statement implies a plausible subconscious connection between movements two and

four. Regarding this possible association, the composer remarks, "I hadn't thought of that. It

could very well be. I'm not the first to use bow(ing for percussionists). I probably stole that

from George Crumb. All of us were doing it at Penn when we were studying and I did it in bhte

cathedral in the vibes. It worked so well that I thought, 'What would it be like...to have a bunch

of percussionists doing that?' so it was a curiosity of sound. When I originally wrote it, I

actually had written that they (the percussionists) should let (the sound) vibrate through. But in

the dress rehearsal, Sawallisch (said), 'We should stop the sound and make it clearer' and that

was the right decision. It sounds better, not the way I originally wrote it so I changed it. It's

more work for the percussionists but it clears out the chords enough that you can hear them.

When they were ringing through, it was noisy."290

The rationale behind Higdon's choice of a soft dynamic and slow tempo to open the

movement is due in part to Sawallisch. The composer states, "He just didn't want percussion so

I (thought), 'If I write really slow at the beginning and it's really quiet maybe he'll be convinced

by it.' It actually worked. That became one of his more favorite movements. He didn't want to

rehearse that movement; in fact he didn't rehearse it until the dress rehearsal."291 The composer

purposely scored the opening of the fourth movement for bowed percussion to convince

Sawallisch of the possibilities within this diverse section. "I wanted him to hear that not all



289Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, "Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [7 July
2006]
b1lip w\ il \t .pittsburghsymphony.org/pghsymph.nsf/concr+itns2D948A94827306D4?p
document.

291)Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
2911bid.










percussion was loud. (The goal was) to make it mysterious. It' s like the string opening in the

third movement...I wanted to do the same thing with the percussion to make the audience kind

of lean in a little and Eigure out what the sound was."292

Higdon recalls that the percussionists were delighted to have a movement featuring their

instruments exclusively. She comments, "The percussionists were so proud of having their own

movement. I finished that movement a whole year before the premiere so I gave them the music

saying, 'Tell me, can you do all this?' They passed the parts around (and) said it's do-able, it's

hard but it's do-able. I was surprised that movement worked better than I thought it would."293

So enamored with the music of this movement, the percussionists encouraged Higdon to

transcribe the score for percussion ensemble.294

The composer features the instruments in a systematic fashion. Beginning with pitched

instruments, a small transitional passage leads to scoring for non-pitched instruments. This

alternation of instruments is comparable to the second movement' s rotation from pizzicato to

arco. Higdon found this movement to be particularly difficult to compose due to the fact that she

"had to Eind a convincing way to go from pitched to non-pitched instruments and that was hard.

The wood-blocks were kind of my in-between. Really, it was diffacult."295

Intensity is gradually increased by an acceleration of the tempo in phases, a comparison

she likens to a "Victrola296 being wound up."297 The composer comments, "It was kind of




- Jeniferll~~ Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
2931bid.

294Although the composer had not originally considered this option, she plans to do so in the future.-- Jennifer
Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
295Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

296A Victrola is a trademark term for a phonograph.










dangerous doing just percussion in the fourth movement 'cause...if it' s a concerto for orchestra,

it' s the orchestra. I also was fascinated to see if I could speed the orchestra up 'cause I didn't

know any other piece that did it quite that way so I thought, 'This'll probably (be) the last time

I'll ever be asked to write an orchestra piece, so let's throw that in. Let me see if I can actually

make that happen.' Part of it was actually just a compositional challenge."298

David Patrick Stearns remarked that this movement reminded him of the .Si\lv Symphony

of Danish composer, Carl Nielsen (1865-193 1).299 Stearns adds no additional commentary

regarding the similarities between Higdon' s composition and Nielsen' s .Si\lv Symphony,

subtitled Sinfonia semplice (1924-5). 300 Rather than the works of Nielsen, Higdon pictured the

extended drum cadences of marching bands during the compositional process.301 She further

comments on Stearns' statements, "I don't even know the Nielsen symphonies. David's my

neighbor; he lives next door to me. I should ask him, 'What the hell were you writing?"'30

When asked specifically about the potential connection to Nielsen' s sixth symphony and the

timpani "battle," Higdon states, "I didn't know that actually, I only know the Nielsen Flute

Concerto and I barely remember that from when I studied it. I don't know any of the Nielsen



297Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.

298 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

299David Patrick Stearns, "Jennifer Higdon," And'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
1lttp wilit\\.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=17341hglht&imin=hglgtersjn%2 7Cg
do%2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon; Internet.

300David Fanning, "Carl Nielsen," Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [19 July 2006]),


301David Patrick Stearns, "Jennifer Higdon," And'ante Corporation, June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available
from
litt wilit andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=17341hglht&imin=hglgtersjn%2 7Cg
do%2A&1stKeywords= JenniferO/o20Higdon; Internet.

302Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










symphonies at all. I didn't think of it as a battle, I was thinking in terms of marching band. I

played percussion in marching band and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be funny to have a little tribute

to marching band in there?' I love watching the audience in that part."303

The fourth movement' s opening texture is homophonic and, as mentioned earlier, the

musicians are playing the instruments with a bow. The timpanist and the second percussionist

are instructed to play the vibraphones while the first and third percussionists are stationed at the

crotales. Commencing immediately with the first pitch, a prominent stylistic element of the

composer is prevalent: the interval of a perfect fifth separates the vibraphone lines and also

constitutes the distance between the crotales.

Throughout the opening measures, an abundance of musical directions are notated by the

composer. Exceptionally specific dynamics are employed within a brief time span that

continually grow louder from mezzo piano to forte. Quick and striking contrasts in volume are

atypical of Higdon' s orchestral music; the composer tends to favor long, extended crescendo

culminating in a blossoming orchestral sound. Due to the various possibilities capable with

percussion instruments, however, such explicit markings are essential. This opening provides

the quietest volume of the entire composition, an unexpected occurrence due to the often

erroneous stereotype of percussion instruments performing at a high decibel level. (Figure 4-21)

Entering in measure 6, the harp sounds separate, perfect melodic fifth intervals from the

percussionists' opening that further expose Higdon's affinity for this interval. Punctuations of

open fifths continue in the music of the four percussionists beneath the fluid harp. Throughout

this intervallic activity, tiny melodic fragments in the celesta commence a dialogue with the first





303Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.











percussion crotales part. Because these melodic fragments are extremely concise and similar, the

musical lines are not independent; the celesta simply echoes the crotales.














Figure 4-21.rnr~~ Concerto for Oirchsra V m.1-.0

The hrp cniues~r to~ aregaeprfc it ntrasi esue1 hl tepruso

secio epadstoincrporate~d aP mor dives ara fisrmnsicudn h mlnag

tingleand th glocknspil.Drin thi pasganwdaou nse ewe heet
and~~~~m thevirahons onistn fadtoa aallffts h eet' nwrth

vibraphone~~~ cossso eprt aale itsi ac adta cetsacrti ereo
harmniccomlexty totepsae hi ilgeetns oecmasabrae icag

and continues until meaur 20. Inislnetsaemntevbahnesud hoai










30Jmifuer Higdon ConZcerto for Orchestra (Pilaepha PA: LawonPrss,202)










the opening of the movement with a generous sprinkling of several of the composer' s individual

tendencies.

From its opening arpeggios, the harp sustains a C maj or tonality until measure 16 at which

point similar figurations recur in Eb maj or. Once the Eb tonal center is established, the harp

alternates between the major modes of Eb and C. The marimba reinforces these changing

tonalities by outlining parallel harmonies.

The primary focus of the pitched instruments thus far has remained on the perfect fifth

interval. To avoid the possibility of the music becoming stagnant or predictable, Higdon

alternates the vibraphone and wood block within the second percussionist's part beginning in

measure 20. This changing instrumentation anticipates the eventual substitution of the

vibraphone by the woodblock and facilitates the transition from pitched to non-pitched

instruments. Once the second percussionist initially begins this alternation, the fluctuation

occurs at a faster rate. After several statements, the wood block becomes more significant than

the melodic vibraphone thus marking the beginning of a new instrumentation soon to permeate

the entire ensemble. Between the alteration of harmonies in the harp and the constant shift of

vibraphone and wood block in the second percussionist' s part, the music is unified through

departures and returns to opening material.

Following the trail set by the second percussionist, the timpanist (actually playing the

glockenspiel) undergoes a similar transformation. Beginning in measure 22, the musician's

scoring changes to temple blocks which, along with the wood blocks, are instructed to play softly

so as to enable the musical focus to remain on the melodic instruments.

For the first time in the movement, the harp utters a melodic statement that lasts for only

two bars in measure 24. What follows in measure 26, although brief, is characteristic of










Higdon' s orchestral writing: the harp sounds homophonic intervals comprised of fourths and

fifths.

As stated previously, the tempo undergoes multiple accelerandi throughout the movement.

The initial increase occurs in measure 29 with a new tempo in the following bar that places the

quarter note at 60. The new tempo is accompanied by a section that features only non-pitched

instruments including the sizzle cymbal, the guiro, the vibraslap and eventually the snare drum.

The highly complex rhythm is balanced by complete silence. Higdon scores one beat rests for all

instruments to provide a welcome relaxation to the ever increasing intensity. The changes in

tempo begin to occur more frequently and the next employment of an accelerando transpires at

bar 42. With the quarter note now marked at 80, Higdon has nearly doubled the tempo from the

opening.

This section continues the focus on non-pitched instruments with the exception of the

piano. Due to the piano's rich history of cultivating melodies, it is surprising to find this

instrument included in such a section. Higdon offsets this preconception, however, through her

explicit directions in the score, "use other hand to dampen strings very close to hammer...the

sound should be very dry."305 The piano part comprises single pitches of consecutive sixteenth

notes in its lowest register. The resulting dry sound combined with the low range evokes a more

percussive and non-pitched timbre. To further increase the intensity, Higdon notates an

extremely quick crescendo in the piano that carries the dynamics to its extremes from pianissimo

to fortissimo within a single measure.

In measure 45, the remaining musicians join the piano in a fortissimo dynamic. The high

rhythmic complexity already attained is further complemented by a solo for the timpani.


30Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









Although the section remains centered upon non-pitched instruments, Higdon's unusual

orchestration does not allow the timpani and the piano to detract from the pivotal role of the

remaining instruments.

Another accelerando appears in measure 50 and the quarter note is increased to 90 in the

subsequent measure. Another fast crescendo is employed by the percussionists combined with a

change in texture that incorporates brief occurrences of homophonic unity beginning in measure

51. These instances provide a succinct moment of relaxation to the high rhythmic tension

created thus far. Higdon alters the instrumentation by introducing the tom-toms and the floor

tom-toms. To instill additional prominence to non-pitched instruments, the piano is omitted and

the timpani no longer presents soloistic material. Throughout this section, the composer utilizes

frequent dynamic contrasts that span the gamut of sound possibilities, a trait that remains unusual

in her orchestral scoring but further explores the various capabilities of the percussion section.

Measure 64 includes non-traditional scoring for the timpanist and the first percussionist by

having them "play rim of drum."306 Although the composer would never be considered avant-

garde, she clearly understands the investigational nature of this philosophy and conducts her own

experiments through brief moments of unorthodox instrumental techniques.

An introduction of the final set of percussive instruments begins in measure 72 and

includes castanets, maracas and sandpaper blocks. The maracas play a consistent eighth-note

rhythm (similar to the marimba in measure 18) while the castanets have a syncopated ostinato.

(Figure 4-22) These rhythms remain consistent until the final bars of the movement further

revealing the composer's penchant for ostinati.





306Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).






























mJ'
~7
r -t~--_
mJ' I.~II Irll~


As previously noted, the fourth movement leads attacca to the full orchestral, Einal

movement. Higdon achieves a seamless transition by introducing new ostinato passages in the

coda of the percussion movement that continue into the subsequent movement. Because each

percussion line Eigures prominently in this transition, discussion of each of their lines separately

will facilitate a more thorough comprehension.




Sarnd Paper Blorcks


Pctn. I


Pe1~.2


~crc, 3


Figure 4-22. ConZcerto for Orchestra, IV, mm. 72-74.307




The castanets continue their previous ostinato pattern from measure 72 that repeats in two

measure intervals. The rhythm changes to consecutive sixteenth notes in bar 89 accompanied by


a forte dynamic that increases the rhythmic intensity and heightens the anticipation of the Einal

movement. In the opening measure of the fifth movement, the castanets occur less frequently

before becoming tacet altogether by measure 2. This instrument' s main role, therefore, is to

increase tension and rhythmic drive while the other percussionists provide the primary

unification between the two movements.

Similar to the castanets, the maraca continues its own rhythm from measure 72. The Einal

three bars of the fourth movement replace the maraca with the tom-toms and initiate a more



307Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).







































~mares on)


~~l~:l;upoUmlbrml~Ilrll IOmI(Mns


rhythmically complex pattern. It is the latter instrumentation and new ostinato that function as

the transition between movements and remains unceasing until measure 5 of the finale.

As expected, the sand paper blocks, played by the first percussionist, follow a related path

that continues a rhythmic ostinato pattern before changing immediately to the transition proper.


Beginning in measure 91, the connecting link to the finale is presented through a separate thirty-

second note rhythm. (Figure 4-23) The first percussionist along with the timpanist present their


respective motives more extensively; both remain true to their transitional material until measure

16 of the finale.


~cn;l



PercZ



Perc. 3


Figure 4-23. ConZcerto for Orchestra, IV, mm. 91-95.308




During the transitional passage, the timpanist's part does not employ the strict repetition of

the ostinato that characterized the music of the three percussionists. Because the timpani is a


pitched instrument, the transition combines rhythmic and melodic material; however, neither

conforms to a strict pattern and a systematic ordering of these fundamentals remains less





30Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










prevalent. In measure 91, a consistent rhythmic and intervallic content emerges that links the

two movements yet the patterns vary considerably after the initial transition has been achieved.

Forte dynamics close the fourth movement while the finale opens immediately with a more

subdued marking of mezzo piano. Regarding this sudden change, Higdon remarks, "It' s

interesting when you go into the fifth movement, I originally had loud dynamics in the

percussion (but) that didn't work. I had to have them come down to piano to clear out for the

strings. That was changed in the rehearsals."309

Because the musical material that connects the final two movements are similar and played

attacca (a "radical" notion according to the composer),310 this dynamic contrast does not supply

reassurance that the finale has began. Higdon has masterfully crafted a seamless transition and

only after the syncopated entrance of the violins does it become obvious that a new movement

has commenced.

As mentioned previously, unifying material abounds in Higdon's orchestral compositions

that establishes brief moments of familiarity to the listener. The composer turns to this approach

in the finale by incorporating musical material from previous movements that provides a

convincing summation. In fact, the final movement may be considered a coda to the entire

composition. Higdon responds to this theory, "It is. It had to be something that wrapped

everything up. I also wanted) some swing in that last movement, too but I knew the conductor

who was 82 wouldn't exactly be able to swing so I had to figure out a way to write it so that it

would swing on its own...although it' s kind of hard to say because I wrote that first movement





309Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.
3101bid.










last. I know that everything in my brain was connected from the previous movements though

'cause that' s just the way my brain works."311

The opening measures of the finale continue to build the intensity from the previous

movement through unison violin scoring marked forte above the percussion ostinati. Beginning

in measure 4, a reference to earlier musical material arises. The cello line alternates arco and

pizzicato techniques that recall the similar dichotomy of string sounds present in the second and

third movement. (Figure 4-24)













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31Jnifuer Higdon ConZcerto for Orchestra (Piaelha PA: LawonPrss,202)










of the finale, therefore, an accumulation of recurring musical material is presented: the

continuation of the ostinato percussion patterns, the alternation of string techniques in the celli,

the wide dynamic contrasts of the bassoons and the imitative woodwind passages.

Following the cessation of the percussion ostinati in measure 16, Higdon supplies a new

repeating bass pattern in the celli and basses. Unrelated to the material in the percussion, this

progression continues until measure 23. The incorporation of two separate ostinati reveals the

composer' s inclination towards this compositional device and is perhaps nowhere more apparent

than this opening section of the finale.

A section featuring several prominent woodwind soli begins in measure 24. Unlike the

preceding movements that incorporated extensive solo material, such presentations in the finale

are greatly reduced in length. It is interesting to note that in the three movements that featured

the full ensemble, the initial soli are presented by woodwinds. Beneath the woodwinds, a

significant pattern for marimba and glockenspiel emerges that reappears throughout the finale.

(Figure 4-25) In the initial presentation, these percussion instruments alternate the pitches of B

and Bb that recall the tonal ambiguity of the second movement. The piano and harp assist in

developing this harmonic environment through their perpetual sounding F that functions as the

fifth to the Bb and the augmented fourth to the B natural.313

Following the brief appearance of woodwinds, the strings reenter in measure 28 with

musical material from measure 16 of the finale transposed a maj or second higher. This passage

returns in measure 34 transposed up a minor third from the preceding presentation. The timpani

also participate in reminiscences of earlier motives by continuously restating a rhythmic figure



313The use of fifth intervals within Hidgon' s style need no further explanation but the tri-tone is used more
infrequently. Although not generally part of the composer's orchestral style, the latter interval retains a significant
place in this composition due to its pivotal role ascribed by Higdon in the opening of the composition.









that dominated the transition between movements four and five. Finally, the marimba and

glockenspiel return to the example discussed above and follows the transposition pattern of the

strings. The sequencing of earlier musical material at steadily rising pitches increases the

momentum and in addition, incorporates the use of rising pitch, a characteristic prevalent to

earlier movements of this composition.










Figure 4-25. ConZcerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 24-26.314



Higdon features the violins in measure 32 and as seen with the woodwinds, the length of

the soli are drastically reduced. Within this section, the violin soli are disrupted by the rising

sequences of the entire string section. The "solo" is comprised of four violinists from each

section sounding descending maj or chords in homophonic texture. Between the two groups of

soloists, the chords are separated by a major second. An accelerando appears in measure 38, the

first to be utilized within the finale but clearly a continuing idea from the fourth movement.

Once the new tempo (quarter note=120) takes effect in measure 42, no release is provided as the

music continues its prescribed path of dramatic bravura.

This separate passage in measure 42 offers both new and returning material. Joining the

orchestra for the first time since the third movement, the brass re-enters in a harmonic idiom

favored by the composer. The trumpets and trombones sound major chords separated by the


314Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









interval of a second. The violin soloists continue to play their respective chords but remain

independent of the brass. The pattern is quickly monopolized by the brass, however, when the

violins become tacet in measure 44. The maj or chords in the trumpet and the trombone serve as

an extension of the harmonic intensity initially begun in the strings; Higdon has successfully

transferred the existing material to a new timbre.

Beneath this relocation of maj or chords, separate ostinato patterns begin in the viola, the

vibraphone and the snare. Although melodically and rhythmically independent of the

transitional patterns utilized in movements four and Hyve, the employment of percussion

instruments for a repeating rhythmic idea vaguely recalls their earlier function in opening the

Einale. The composer directs the viola section to sound their ostinato "angrily." Such markings

are used sparingly within the oeuvre of Higdon' s orchestral compositions but do occur as

witnessed in the openings of the third and fourth movements.

Beginning in measure 52, the tonal environment of the second movement is evoked. For

eight consecutive beats, the left hand of the piano, the viola and celli alternate quickly between

the pitches of B and F. (Figure 4-26) In measure 58, the pattern returns an octave higher and is

heard only in the right hand of the piano. (The significance of these pitches was explained

previously in the discussion of a similar harmonic idiom found in the piano and percussion lines

in measure 24 of the Einale).

Following this brief reminiscence, the pianist (doubled by the strings) plays separate maj or

chords in each hand that are separated by the interval of a maj or second. Not only does this

bitonality in measure 60 recall earlier harmonic patterns but is equally meaningful in comparison

to the celesta line in bar 13 of the fourth movement. The open fifth intervals separated by a










maj or second in the celesta are unified profoundly to the finale' s piano part since a single

musician performs both parts.








Figure 4-26. ConZcerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 52-53.315



In measure 65, an accelerando is employed while the chords in the piano and strings

continue to rise in pitch. Higdon describes this drive as the music moving "up and forward

through the orchestra getting faster and faster"316 but also maintains the concept of rising sounds

featured prominently throughout the entire composition. The new tempo in measure 67 is marked

quarter note=13 8-142. Immediately the trumpets re-enter to double the strings and right hand of

the piano in a prolongation of the maj or chord passage.

A new melodic idea is introduced in the second violins in measure 69 that closely mirrors

the tom-toms' rhythm. The latter plays consistent sixteenth notes to substantiate a rhythmic

ostinato. The second violins utilize a similar rhythm but the line is more melodic and

interspersed generously with rests. In both the percussion and the second violins, the pattern

persists until measure 83. Following a brief interruption, the second violins' melodic pattern

returns in measure 101 in the lower strings with additional complexity. The viola and celli

present this material in rapid polyphonic exchanges.


31 Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

316Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, "Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [7 July
2006]
bli w\ il itpittsburghsymphony~org/pghsymph.nsf/concr+itns2D948A948270604?oe
document.










Beneath the second violins in measure 73, the alternation of pizzicato and arco in the celli

and bass returns the music to the dichotomy explored in the second movement. Significantly, all

pizzicato markings in this section are scored as snap pizzicato, a scoring used most prominently

for the Einal pitch of the second movement.

In measure 83, the strings continue to reflect upon the second movement. Although

sounding a single pitch, the tutti strings are instructed to play col legro battuto. When "battuto"

is paired with "col legro," the execution is accomplished through a gentle tapping on the string

by the wood of the bow. The actual meaning of "batutto," however is a musical term found in

the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to describe guitar strumming317 and therefore is akin to

the second movement's marking of "ala guitara"

The icing on the proverbial cake to this continuation of previous musical ideas is found in

the soli for viola and celli. Each section requires three players to sound ascending maj or chords

that are reminiscent of the rising sounds featured throughout all five movements. Of course,

utilizing moving maj or chords is frequent in Higdon' s compositions yet the specific scoring for

viola and celli specifically recalls similar orchestration in the third movement. It also merits

mentioning that the distance between the celli and viola soli is the reappearing maj or second

interval. Although brief, this solo passage is instantly recognizable from a similar context of the

third movement and hence, unifies the "mystical" movement with the Einale.

The percussionists simultaneously reminisce on the fourth movement through the scoring

of like timbres. Percussionists one and two are instructed to play the rim of the drum (seen in

measure 65 of the preceding movement). In the finale, the parameters are less constricting and




317No author, "Battuto," Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [20 July 2006]),











Higdon designates that any drum will suffice.318 (A third percussionist is later added with an

identical instruction). The sand paper blocks, scored only in the fourth movement, re-enter

during this section that also recall the aforementioned passage of the fourth movement. The

section closes with an accelerando in measure 91 that increases the quarter note to 142-150.

In measure 93, the harp presents a Eigure that directly correlates to the marimba in measure

24. When the pattern first appeared (originally paired with the glockenspiel), it served to recall

the tonal ambiguity of the second movement. After re-orchestration and transposition, however,

the pattern is not only a harmonic reminder of the string movement but a unifying device that

links the diverse sections of the Einale. (Figure 4-27) The piano, reminiscing on its own

previous patterns, re-enters by alternating the B and F pitches heard previously in measures 52

and 58 in varied rhythmic presentations.



accel.f -





Figure 4-27. Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 91-96.319



An association to the second movement is found in the reappearing string soli in measure

93 that employs pizzicato and arco techniques. In a Concerto for Orchestra, solo opportunities

abound for an individual section and these timbres were explored also in the third movement as

well as previous sections of the finale. Continuing the trend in the fifth movement of succinct



318 The instructive "play rim of any drum" is comparable to the similar marking of the timpani in measure 66 of the
fourth movement which reads, "whichever drum is convenient." --Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra
(Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

319Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










solo moments, the passage lasts for only 8 measures yet much musical material is included

within this brief time span. Imitative and homophonic textures combine with pizzicato markings

to recall earlier moments in the composition.

In measure 101, the strings return to tutti scoring while the aforementioned second violin

pattern from measure 69 returns in the viola and the celli. Unlike the initial seed from which this

motive blossomed, the pitch content now centers on the notes B and F.320 The resulting sound

has developed upon the earlier motive in several ways. Not only does the musical material recall

the previous violin motive but the additional emphasis on the two important pitches refers to

various moments of harmonic instability raging throughout the composition. The momentum

increases exponentially through a complex dialogue between the two instruments in rapid

imitation. To further emphasize the returning material of measure 69, the horns transpose their

previous material from the same place in measure 107. In addition, the piano and glockenspiel

play various descending melodic fourth intervals which continue to hold a significant position

within Higdon's compositions.

Measure 118 commences the next change in tempo that increases the quarter note to 160-

180. After a plethora of accelerandi sprinkled throughout the fourth and fifth movements, this

Einal increase places the tempo at twice the initial speed of the Einale' s opening. Due to the

continuous intensity and excitement in the Einal movements, anticipation mounts for a riveting

conclusion that Higdon delivers through an explosion of instrumental color. Maintaining the

trend set thus far throughout the Einale, the closing section continues to develop musical material

from preceding movements resulting in a captivating and breathless conclusion.



32Although the second violins in measure 69 initially sounded a Bb frequently, as the motive progressed, a pattern
evolving around a singular pitch was noticeably absent. The subsequent presentation of the similar figurations
appearing in measure 101, therefore, has expanded in harmonic complexity.










Beginning in measure 1 18, Higdon's characteristic employment of an ostinato returns in

the bass clarinet, celli and double bass that emphasize the pitches of B, Bb and F. This not only

revisits the composer' s penchant of a fifth interval (and its inversion) but continues the

importance of these notes that have been manipulated consistently throughout the composition.

Although less prominent, the viola line's countermelody also places a degree of significance on

the pitches B and F that continue to declare their intervallic importance. Simultaneously, the

glockenspiel and piano span the harmonic gamut but continue the incorporation of perfect fourth

and fifth intervals in various guises. The trumpets resume in measure 118 after a prolonged

silence and the sudden entry provides exuberance to an already electrifying aural palette. One

may reasonably anticipate the composer' s characteristic maj or chord progression in the trumpets'

orchestration, yet the triads are varied. Although the maj ority of the chords are indeed maj or,

Higdon includes augmented and even minor chords that result in fresh sounding music combined

with a sense of familiarity.

In measure 134, the harp and marimba recall the original duet in measure 24 that resurged

earlier in measure 93. In the final presentation of this material, Higdon combines the timbres of

the two previous appearances to produce an outcome that is recognizable yet innovative. The

ongoing experimentation of instrumental color displays once again, the composer's great

emphasis on the "joy of sound." (Figure 4-28)

In measure 140, an entire earlier section is recalled while simultaneously placing emphasis

on the pitches of B & F. The woodwinds, strings, piano and vibraphone sound various patterns

of these notes that resemble the material in measure 52. The connection to the corresponding

earlier passage is further strengthened through an identical maj or chord progression sounded by











the trumpets while the trombones vary only slightly. This inventive use of orchestration


effectively transports the music of the finale to an earlier segment.


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Figure 4-28. Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 135-141.321




In measure 151, the piano and second violins return to the alternating figure initially


presented in measure 52. Rather than shifting between B and F, however, Higdon uses the


pitches of G and Db. Although a mere transposition, this passage foreshadows the final tonality

of the work.


Beginning in measure 153, the piano and the bassoons introduce a forte motive consisting

of accented melodic eighth notes that lasts precisely one measure. (Figure 4-29) This brief


rhythmically driven line returns an additional two times interspersed with harmonically calm

sections. As quickly as it appeared, the motive suddenly vanishes by measure 162 only to appear


again in the concluding measures. In placement only, this resembles the concertmaster's solo


32Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









from movement three that presented a solo line once before reiterating the idea in the final

measures of its respective movement. In the finale, however, this assertive piano motive is offset

by interruptions by the ensemble of a harmonically stable environment consisting of maj or

chords. The orchestration of doublestops in the strings and the doubled piano part is reminiscent

of the earlier passage of the finale in measure 60. The latter utilized bitonality, while in this brief

moment of recall the chords are in unison. An additional relationship to measure 60 occurs in

the woodwinds. Initially scored as imitative ascending and descending scalar passages, this

subsequent appearance retains a similar melodic content but with less complexity due to a

homophonic texture.











Figure 4-29. Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 151-154.322



The orchestration in measure 154, therefore, results in a vague feeling of deja vu yet the

music neither returns harmonically nor texturally to its initial appearance. The entire passage,

however, anticipates the proper return of the bitonal section upon its triumphant entrance in

measure 162. After measures of alluding to this occurrence, Higdon's eventual arrival to this

destination presents a dazzling artistic climax.

The strings offer a brief reprieve from their bitonal language in measure 164 to recall the

opening bars of the third movement. This returning musical idea consisting of a descending,


322Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra, (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).



































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expressive portamen~~~ttt~~~ttttott~ figure followed by a pizzicato pitch that figured prominently throughout


the "mystical" movement; thus, it is not surprising that the composer references this material in


the finale. Rather than the standard pizzicato to end the portamen~~~tttt~~~ttttott figures, Higdon scores a


snap pizzicato. This seemingly slight modification remains significant as a unifying device due


to its earlier appearances in the second and fifth movements. (Figure 4-30) Lasting only two


measures, the strings quickly resume their previous bitonal material.


~-


Figure 4-30. Concerto for Orchestra, V, mm. 164-165.323




In measure 166, the woodwinds proclaim their return to independence through the


innovative use of an earlier motive in the finale. Initially found in the second violins' extended


line in measure 72 and subsequently in the lower strings in measure 101, this motive reappears


greatly truncated with continuous imitation to present a highly manipulated adaptation of the


original. The transformation of this material into a multifarious texture combined with a stark



32Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra, (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









contrast in timbre assumes a new character that is decidedly more complex than even its previous

statement in the polyphonic lower strings. Undoubtedly, the result is the pinnacle of this musical

idea through its abundance in complexity.

The first and third horns recall their previous material in measure 69 to reinforce the

recollection of the passage discussed above. Unlike the woodwinds, however, the material does

not bear an orchestration change; rather, the horns explore the end of their own motive from this

earlier passage. Higdon does not simply restate the material but incorporates considerable

variation through rhythmic alteration before culminating in a polyphonic dialogue with the

second and fourth horns in measure 173. The final measures of the composition persist in

featuring earlier musical material in an elaborate and fully orchestrated conclusion.

As expected of a multi-movement work for large ensemble, all instrumental forces

combine to end the composition. In measure 181, the unison strings commence a brief stepwise

ascension and upon subsequent repetitions, begins the pattern on a higher pitch. After only two

full presentations, the passage is truncated yet continues the rise in pitch appearing at faster

intervals to enhance the intensity. The incorporation of rising sounds is significant in this

conclusion and its frequent appearances in the previous movements have already been noted

previously. The steady increase in momentum provided by the strings is additionally developed

through frequent meter changes and a consistent rhythm in the timpani.

In measure 181, the piano returns to thick textured maj or chords that are doubled in the

wind and brass instruments. The bitonality frequently employed in similar passages is noticeably

absent in preparation for a harmonious conclusion. These chords do not encompass a discernible

pattern but the progression in measure 183 (Bb-F#-B-F#) remains noteworthy due to the

significance of the pitches. One may reasonably anticipate an answer to this harmonic ambiguity









that dominated the composition yet the composer does not offer any solutions and in the end,

opts for an unforeseen tonality altogether.

In the final bars, Higdon continues to recall musical material from the fifth movement. In

measure 186, the piano returns to its earlier aggressive rhythmic motive originally found in bar

153. Heard only once, this reminiscence is brief but fulfills the purpose of transporting the

music. The Einal recollection of previous musical content occurs in the timpani in the

penultimate measure. Although brief, the significance is momentous. The timpani sound an

interval of an augmented fourth that alludes to the initial presentation of the tritone in the

opening measures of the first movement. This interval maintained a prominent role throughout

the entire opening movement and with the incorporation of this interval in the conclusion the

composer has successfully brought the entire work full circle. (Figure 4-31)

With the exception of the percussion, the full ensemble sounds the Einal maj or chord

progression (G-G-G-F-G). Curiously, the work concludes on a G maj or chord, a tonality that has

not been utilized significantly. Due to the prominence placed on the pitches ofB, Bb and F

throughout the five movements, the final key center is quite unexpected. The keen observer will

notice, however, that this was foreshadowed briefly in measure 151 in the alternating pitches of

G and Db. This pattern originated in measures 52 and returned in 140 with the alternating notes

of B and F. The transposition of this material in measure 151 is vital. During this passage, the

rationale for a new key center may appear unclear especially since the pitches of B and F

remained essential throughout the work. Only after the composition ends in this new tonality

does it become clear that this brief moment was prophesying the conclusion.



















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Figure 4-31. Con~certo for Orchestra, V, mm. 186-189.324




Since the premiere of this work in 2002, Higdon' s Concerto for Orchestra has garnered

performances by several of the United States' leading symphonies including the Atlanta

Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Although this composition contains many of the elements that contributed to the success of bhte

cathedral, it remains unclear why Concerto for Orchestra is programmed less frequently. This

author can only postulate on possible reasons for such an omission. One undeniable obstacle is

that the severe technical demands of this work far exceed those of bhte cathed al. Although this

may account for the lack of performances by second tier orchestras, this rationale is hardly

applicable to the nation's leading ensembles. Commenting on this specific issue, Higdon states,

"I think the primary reason Bhte Cathedral has so many performances is because it's a smaller

work in duration and instrumentation, and that makes it easier to program the work at the


32Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra, (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










beginning of the concert (It fits a standard concert format of opener, concerto, but old symphony

at the end). Duration is the prime factor. Also, it's not nearly as hard as the Concerto for

Orchestra, which is very difficult." (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25

November 2006)

Due to the absolute nature and length of the work, it is plausible that symphonic

programmers are unsure of audience reaction. The recent decrease in funds for many

performing organizations may also be a contributing factor. Often forced to cater to the

perceived (although not necessarily accurate) tastes of a classical audience, programmers may

consider a modern composition of this size a potential risk for orchestras already in financial

peril. Higdon comment on the modern programming, "I can't tell you how many orchestras are

performing the Brahms Symphony No. 4. I see it on a program and I roll my eyes. I don't deny

its genius, but...do we have to do the same thing over and over again?"325 The composer

staunchly believes, "that orchestras that stick to the standard literature) are the ones driving

people away from the concert hall....if they choose, they could completely make orchestral music

irrelevant by just doing old standards. For young people wanting a concert experience, it is

death. I can't tell you how many times I've had people say they're not interested in the evening's

concert because they've heard it before, so they go to some other form of entertainment."

(Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) Higdon's music

has consistently found favor with listeners and therefore, offers few risks to programmers.

Unlike Milton Babbitt, Higdon does "care if you listen" and has made communication with her

audience her primary mission.



325David Patrick Stearns, "Her Career, Her Recognition and Her Hopes are Zooming--Composer (and Granuny
Nominee) Jennifer Higdon," Philadelphia Inquirer, 6 February 2005 (Accessed [24 November 2006]), available
fr oml Ilulp un \\ .andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=25 148; Internet.










As mentioned previously, the immediate success of Concerto for Orchestra stems partly

from a plethora of American Symphony Orchestra League members attending the premiere. A

commercial recording of the work furthered contributed to the popularity of the composition. In

2005, the disc garnered four Grammy nominations in the categories of Classical Contemporary

Composition, Best Orchestral Performance and Classical Album and won for best Engineered

Album, Classical. The album also features City Scape, another multi-movement orchestral work

composed immediately following Concerto for Orchestra's premiere. Featuring the Atlanta

Symphony Orchestra, the recording was conducted by the composer' s long-time supporter and

former instructor Robert Spano.

blue cathedral may have ignited the proverbial flame of the composer' s international

stardom but Concerto for Orchestra reveals that she has undoubtedly arrived and plans to

maintain her presence in the contemporary symphonic circuit. With this second large orchestral

work, a unique compositional style becomes attributable to Higdon. Such trademarks do not,

however, offer a sense of predictability; the composer' s subtle use of variation continues the

extensive symphonic tradition of the past combined with modern developments. The current

author sincerely hopes this Concerto for Orchestra will rival provide programming options for

those truly interested in promoting new music and will generate a new spark within symphonic

tradition.









CHAPTER 5
CITY SCAPE

Immediately following the premiere of Concerto for Orchestra in 2002, Higdon

commenced with another equally significant orchestral commission by the Atlanta Symphony

Orchestra and long time Higdon supporter, Robert Spano. City Scape, a multi-movement

composition, resulted from the composer' s second large commission from one of the nation' s

leading ensembles. With an October 1st deadline (only three and a half months following

Concerto for Orchestra's premiere), the composer did not experience the luxury of time afforded

by the Philadelphia Orchestra' s earlier commission. Although City Scape is shorter in length

than the monumental Concerto, and contains only three movements, the work continues to be

one of her longest ensemble compositions and was premiered on November 14th, 2002 with the

commissioning orchestra. For a variety of reasons explored below, the work has not enjoyed the

same popularity as her earlier symphonic compositions. The musical material, however, is

consistent with the stylistic traits that frequent Higdon' s previous works in the orchestral genre.

The Atlanta Symphony had been noticeably silent in its lack of commissions since 1996

and therefore, much anticipation awaited the premiere of a new work by this ensemble. Spano

assumed leadership of the ASO in 2000326 and unquestionably participated considerably in the

choice of Higdon for the commission. The composer was bound by several broad stipulations by

the ensemble based on their specific programming needs but the initial concept of a "musical

portrait of Atlanta" 327 Stemmed from Higdon herself. Frank Dans, the artistic adviser of the

Atlanta Symphony stated, "We gave her the utmost flexibility, and were delighted when she


326MLark Gresham, "Sounds like home," 13 November 2002 (Accessed [9 July 2006]), available from
http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobaeCnntodi%3085 Internet.
32Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.










proposed Atlanta as the subj ect matter. The fact that she's a former Atlantan never played into

the initial discussion."328 Higdon chose her experiences and memories of the city as the basis of

the composition's three movements. Higdon stated, "I have so many memories of Atlanta--

playing around Lenox [Square], running around the Woodruff Arts Center as a kid...after Bob

[Spano] came to me, I knew I had a lot of inspiration there, in the city itself, and it was a natural

fit."329 Higdon continued in a separate interview, "The reason I decided to do something about

Atlanta was that I have such a strong association with that city, having lived there for 10 years

when I was growing up. In fact, the Atlanta Symphony was the first orchestra that I ever heard

live. It came very naturally."33

Higdon' s family relocated from Brooklyn to Atlanta in 1963, partly because the location

would be beneficial to her father' s career. Friends of the composers' parents also moved to

Atlanta and the relative proximity of grandparents living in Tennessee331 facilitated the decision

to transfer the family. Although born in Brooklyn, Higdon's childhood memories stem from

Atlanta and the city maintains a special fondness for her.

As stated previously, the idea of a musical depiction of Atlanta initiated with the composer

but the terms stipulated that the composition consist of three movements that could be performed

together or individually. One movement was to function as a "concert opener," while another

movement was to be programmed for youth-oriented concerts as a lesson in musical form.332


32Pierre Ruhe, "Symphony illuminates soul of city," 4tlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS,
p. 1M.
3291bid.

330Andrew Quint, "Speaking with Composer Jennifer Higdon: The Communication Thing," Fanfare, May/June
2004, p. 42-45.

331MLark Gresham, "Sounds like home," 13 November 2002 (Accessed [9 July 2006]), available from
http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobaeCnntodi%3085 Internet.
33Ibid.










.1yl /ine and Peachtree Street were composed respectively with these ideals in mind. The

composer recalls, "They told me they wanted the first movement to be a piece that would be

done on tour and they wanted the last piece for their educational program. The kids were

studying form and that last movement is a rondo. They left the middle movement up to me."333

Poetic titles are characteristic in both Higdon's orchestral and chamber music

compositions.334 The title, City Scape, embraces the three individual movements, each of which

provides its own descriptive title. "Cityscape" is one word and technically defined as "an

artistic representation of a city,"335 thus making the title appropriate. The composer' s subtitles

for the individual movements, however, remain uniquely her own in the experimentation of the

English language exhibited in this instance by separating the standard term into two specific

words. Higdon states, "I like to change words and spellings to make them my own."336 This

trend continues in the subtitles as well. The three individual movements are titled Sk~yLine, river

sings a song to treeS337 and Peachtree Street.

As a result of being raised by artistic parents, the composer maintained visual images in

her mind throughout the compositional process. She states, "When I was writing this piece, I

had concrete images in my head of different aspects of Atlanta. It makes it easy to write, having






33Andrew Quint, "Speaking with Composer Jennifer Higdon: The Communication Thing," Fanfare, May/June
2004, p. 42-45.

33The Concerto for Orchestra was distinctive in its eschewing of such devices: the rationale for the lack or poetic
titles in the earlier piece has been expounded upon at length in the previous chapter.

M31Lerriam-Webster Online Dictionary, cityscapee," [5 January 2007] http://m-w.com/dictionary/citvscape.

336Pierre Ruhe, "Symphony illuminates soul of city," 4tlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS,
p. 1M.

33The omission of capital letters in the second movement is reminiscent of the composer' s earlier tone poem blue
cathedral.










those images there."338 As with bhte cathedral, the images employed by the composer do not

necessarily translate musically to the audience, nor were they intended to do so. The work is not

explicitly programmatic and similar to the works of Debussy, frequently offers only an

"impression" of the environment rather than a precise detailing of specific events or images.

Such music leaves an open interpretation to the listener although the "bustle of traffic and the

intensity of moving down the street"339 were consciously included in the score.

The close proximity of the premieres of Concerto for Orchestra and City Scape exerted

considerable pressure on Higdon. Time restraints for the Atlanta Symphony commission were

severe and the work was completed in only a few months. Regarding the speed with which she

was forced to write, Higdon states, "I've never written anything this size in so short a time. I

spent all July and August writing six hours a day, every day. You have to be careful because

your brain turns to mush after about four hours. Adrenalin and sheer panic are what kept me

going. Thankfully, I never hit a creative block."340

Higdon rarely begins composing a work with the first movement and true to this format

river sings a song to trees, the second movement, was the first to be penned. As witnessed in the

Concerto for Orchestra discussion, Higdon starts a composition based on the specific ideas that

materialize to her. Indeed, with each of the three orchestral works included in this research, she

did not begin the compositional process with the opening section or movement.341



M31Lark Gresham, "Sounds like home," 13 November 2002 (Accessed [9 July 2006]), available from
http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobaeCnntodi%3085 Internet.

339Pierre Ruhe, "Symphony illuminates soul of city," 4tlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS,
p. 1M.
34Ibid.

The Piano Concerto (scheduled to premiere in 2007) was conceived in the same manner and the first movement
was finished only after the final two movements were written. -- Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape
recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










As one of the primary influences behind this commission, Spano continues to serve a

pivotal role in the life, career and exposure of Higdon and her works. City Scape was dedicated

to him and premiered under his baton on November 14, 2002342 with the commissioning

ensemble. The funding originated from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra' s budget but the exact

fee remains confidential.343

City Scape requires an extensive ensemble including a large percussion section that is

typical of Higdon's works. The orchestration of the three movements varies slightly but

generally maintains the instrumentation of the previous two works. The woodwind section

includes the English horn, an instrument that sustains high favor in this composer' s oeuvre. It is

curious that Higdon, although highly enamored by this instrument, omits the English horn

entirely from Concerto for Orchestra. Such diverse and unique orchestration is indicative of her

intimate knowledge of symphonic writing and attests to her individuality as a composer. The

woodwinds in number and timbre, however, more closely resemble Concerto for Orchestra,

primarily through the use of bass clarinet and contrabassoon, both of which are absent in bhte

cathedral.

The brass sections are identical in the three orchestral works discussed that infer a

standardization of Higdon's orchestration likely to appear in future compositions. As expected,

the strings are divided into the customary five sections typical of symphonic music. Finally,

Higdon utilizes a timpanist and an additional three percussionists in each of the compositions

analyzed; however, the inventory of instr-uments varies. Although this orchestral section has

greatly expanded throughout the past century, the instruments Higdon utilizes throughout her


34The entire work was finished one day before the October 1st 2002 deadline.

341Lark Gresham, "Sounds like home," 13 November 2002 (Accessed [9 July 2006]), available from
http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobaeCnntodi%3085 Internet.










works would not be considered standard. Percussion instruments employed in all three

orchestral works include the crotales, marimba (both of which appear only in the second

movement of City Scape), glockenspiel (occurring only in the final movement of City Scape),

suspended cymbal, triangle (of various types), tom-tom, tam-tam, vibraphone, bass drum,

suspended cymbal and the sizzle cymbal.

An exploration of sounds within the orchestra is a frequent quality in this composer' s

music. Like its predecessors, City Scape incorporates heterodox instrumentation through the

inclusion of a water gong in the second movement. The score instructs the percussionist to raise

the instrument from the water that causes an elevation of pitch. Several similarities in

instrumentation and experimentation with orchestral color exist between City Scape and

Concerto for Orchestra which is not surprising due to the close proximity in which they were

composed. Higdon, however, consciously strived to write an individual work in City Scape and

stated that she "made sure that [City Scape] didn't live in the shadow of the concerto. I was

watching at every step to make sure the ASO piece was strong on its own, different at every

step.34

.1Ayl/ me, the composition's opening movement, was written in only five days. Higdon

recalls, "The ideas were coming intact and so fast, I put it down in short score--six lines instead

of the full 30--and orchestrated it later."345 In the liner notes to the recording (paired with

Concerto for Orchestra), Higdon provides commentary on each of the three movements. Of

.1Ayl m/Ie, she says, "Over the past four decades I've watched the skyline change and grow, rising

up distinctly into its own identifiable shape, proj ecting an image of boldness, strength, and


34Pierre Ruhe, "Symphony illuminates soul of city," 4tlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS,
p. 1M.
34lbid.










growth. Every city's skyline is a fingerprint that the rest of the world recognizes at a distance;

Atlanta has developed a powerful, distinctively metropolitan image, recognizable around the

world." 346

During the composer' s childhood, her father was contracted by Southemn Bell to recreate a

model of Atlanta' s skyline. She states, "Dad did something for Southemn Bell--a replica of the

skyline out of yards and yards of telephone wire...(It made me) hyperaware of what the

downtown skyline looked like."347 Like her father' s earlier work, Higdon's artistic venture

depicts the skyscrapers of the downtown, Midtown, and Lenox regions. 348 Although

skyscrapers are of course commonplace in international cities, Higdon comments on the

individuality of each city's skyline, "A city's skyline is its fingerprint, in a way, and Atlanta's

has grown very bold in the years I've known it. I made the music bold, too."349 This boldness is

immediately apparent in the lively tempo and forceful dynamic markings that are present

throughout the movement.

.\yl m/Ie served one of the prerequisites of the commission through its functionality as an

opening concert piece. Higdon imbued this movement with a high amount of energy that

provides an abundance of excitement, an ideal manner in which to begin any concert. The

spirited tempo is designated with a simple metronome marking of quarter note=142. The





346Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.

347Mark Gresham, "Sounds like home," 13 November 2002 (Accessed [9 July 2006]), available from
http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobaeCnntodi%3055 Internet.
348Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.

349Pierre Ruhe, "Symphony illuminates soul of city," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS,
p. 1M.










opening dynamics are fortissimo, and paired with a lively tempo this provides an exuberant and

energetic beginning.

The movement opens with the trumpets sounding stationary maj or chords, while the horns,

bassoons and vibraphone play descending fifth intervals. In measure four, additional major

chords and fifths appear with the entrance of the remaining woodwinds.

The strings' entrance in measure 8 doubles the woodwinds and brass to continue the

emphasis of major chords and perfect fifth intervals. Such doublings are utilized for a fuller

sound that is additionally intensified by the continued fortissimo markings. With the exception

of the percussion, the ensemble performs in homophonic texture that provides a clear statement

of the composer' s opening musical idea.

Beginning in bar 13, the progression accelerates to increase the already heightened

momentum while distinctive stylistic traits continue to appear throughout the passage. The

principal flute, second oboe and the two Bb clarinets sound rapidly ascending and descending

scalar passages. In addition, the principal oboe, doubled by the English horn, alternates

continuously between two pitches. Finally, the bass, doubled by the contrabassoon and tuba,

sustains an E pedal tone below the increasingly complex texture. Throughout these measures,

the composer masterfully transforms the texture from homophonic to polyphonic yet maintains

consistency through the maj or chords and open fifths persisting in the brass and bassoons.

Without question, the composer has stamped her musical signature on the opening of City Scape.

Beginning in measure 21, the scalar Eigures of the woodwinds abruptly cease and the

texture is briefly thinned to expose perhaps two of the most crucial lines of the entire

composition. The trumpet and piccolo sound a brief yet significant motive consisting of five

ascending sixteenth notes in stepwise motion. Perhaps not particularly remarkable in its initial










context, this motive appears throughout all three movements and serves a pivotal role in unifying

the composition. An equally crucial motive appears simultaneously in the timpani employing a

rhythm of an eighth note followed by sixteenth-note triplets. The motive "infects" the entire

movement similar to the "germ" motive in the opening movement of Beethoven' s Fifth

Symphony. The rhythm appears frequently in the second movement as well and although absent

from the final movement, serves a prominent function in SkryLine and river sings a song to trees

that may be viewed as a unifying device. The initial content of these two motives is hardly

extraordinary but Higdon' s method of reintroducing the material in various guises is quite

astonishing. (Figure 5-1)












Figure 5-1. Myl m/ Ie, mm.19-24.350



The remainder of the woodwinds returns to a homophonic texture with extreme dynamic

contrasts occurring within a single measure. The abrupt dynamic changes in measure 21 are

uncharacteristic of the composer and therefore warrant mention. 351

Beneath these dynamic contrasts, the string section thins considerably leaving only the

violas and celli presenting maj or chords. The pairing of these two instruments appeared

"5Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

351The opening measures of Concerto for Orchestra 's fourth movement offer one of the few comparable passages of
such dynamic use. It is necessary to state that the chamber music of Higdon differs considerably in the employment
of dynamic markings and extremes occur more frequently in these works in comparison to the symphonic
compositions.









consistently in blue cathedral and Concerto for Orchestra, yet in this passage the musical

content differs considerably. The harmonic rhythm here does not utilize the sustained chords

that produced the serene ambiance of the earlier works; rather the section abounds with

syncopations and accents providing a highly rhythmic accompaniment figure.

Beginning in measure 29, the orchestral texture becomes even sparser employing only the

piccolo, doubled by the principal clarinet, the principal bassoon and the horns. The initial pitch

content of the piccolo and clarinet is identical to the principal oboe and English horn in measure

15. Likewise, the rhythm and the alternation between maj or seconds are utilized in both sections

while the notes gradually vary. In this specific instance, none of the other musical lines reflect

the earlier passage and the similarities in pitch are likely coincidental.

Beneath these oscillating pitch figures, string soli commence in measure 31. The violas

and celli initially present the solo material in unison and as the theme rises, the celli are replaced

by the second violin in the subsequent measure. For this concise passage, Higdon includes only

the first desk of the respective sections. (Figure 5-2)










Fiue -. V em. 13.352



352Jenniferm Hidn iySae(hldlhiP:Lwo rs,20)









The two motives previously discussed return frequently throughout this solo passage. At

the commencement of these soli, the celli and violas immediately recall the melodic content and

opening rhythm of the material initially presented by the trumpet and the piccolo in measure 21.

The sixteenth note triplet motive introduced by the timpani also in measure 21 appears frequently

from bars 32-40.353 The repeated notes of the original timpani motive are replaced by a melodic

character that ascends and descends in stepwise motion. The figure is extended in measure 39 to

two successive sixteenth note triplets and while notated differently than the original motive, the

rhythms are undoubtedly related. This expansion of the triplet becomes increasingly significant

throughout the duration of the movement. Curiously, this motive appears only in the soli scored

for second violins and violas and is absent from the introductory and concluding measures of the

soli for cello and viola. (Figure 5-3)

In measure 33, the soloists are briefly replaced by the remainder of their respective

sections, notated "div. con sord. gli altri, "354 that present various sonorities of maj or and minor

chords in a slow harmonic progression. The soloists reenter in measure 36 with a quotation of

the piccolo and tr-umpet material from measure 21. The recollection is limited to the opening

five pitches before returning to the rhythmic motive of the sixteenth note triplets that quickly

dominates the passage.

After the string soli cease in measure 40, the woodwinds display open fifths with a more

complex dynamic range than customary for this composer. Beginning fortissimo, the sound

diminishes quickly only to begin the subsequent measure with another forte marking. During

this section, the temple blocks also exhibit a diverse dynamic range unrelated to the woodwinds


353The eighth note initially accompanying this motive is varied to a sixteenth note followed by a sixteenth rest.

354The term gli altri appears rarely and simply means "the other."-- Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA:
Lawdon Press, 2002).









that consistently runs the gamut of dynamic possibilities from pianississimo to fortissimo.

Beneath the woodwinds, the bass clarinet and the double bass exhibit a fragmented melodic idea;

the latter is notated in treble clef, a scoring that is not altogether rare in Higdon's compositions.

Finally, the celli and violas return to an accompanimental role that recalls their previous material

from measure 21. Although not nearly as pivotal as the two motives that also appeared in this

passage, it is noteworthy that the composer continues to reference this section. The harmonic

scheme is somewhat varied from the preceding corresponding measures; the celli sound maj or

chords while the violas present open fifths separate from the celli's chords.









Fiue -.My e m.3-4.5

In easre 9, he ell an vilasceae he attrn revousy mntinedto hinth

texture ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 5 an ou h teto ntesgiiatlne ftevois einn ihtescn

viln n meitl mttdb h iss h eoi mtria o hsscinrfrne h






cotnt ofsue the violins d aloue Thios imiaetive polyphony prevosent the ionly reernc toi the






earlier corresponding passage yet the importance of returning to this material can not be




355Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).
























Figure 5-4. Myl m Ie, mm. 49-51.35



The double bass line continues with its accented melodic line, but the former partnership

with the bass clarinet is subsequently replaced by the second bassoon. Higdon's penchant for

alternating patterns between intervals of a maj or or minor second returns in the homophonic

texture of the doubled clarinets and flutes. The second clarinet and flute shift between maj or

and minor seconds. In contrast, the principal clarinet and flute vacillate to the same pitch as the

second instrumentalists. but begin the pattern a maj or second higher resulting in brief moments of

bitonality.

In measure 54, the violas, sans celli, return to the open fifth intervals derived from bar 42.

Although slightly varied, the basic content of this line repeats at two-measure intervals.35 True

to the composer' s tendency to feature percussion instruments, the high and low bongos present a

solo featuring the rhythmic motive of triplet sixteenth notes followed by an eighth note. The





35Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

35It is interesting to note that Higdon also repeated the percussion ostinato at two measure intervals in the transition
between movements four and five in Concerto for Orchestra. The author does not deem to authorize such an
occurrence as a stylistic trait yet believes the incident warrants mention.


understated due to its functions as one of the primary unifying devices of the composition.

(Figure 5-4)










actual melodic material of this passage, however, occurs in the unison woodwinds providing

rhythmic vitality through syncopations and accents.

While the violas complete their parallel fifths statement, the cello and double bass present

sustained open fifths that function as the harmonic basis of the subsequent section. By measure

62, the tonality has clearly stabilized to b minor. Naturally, these elongated pitches are not the

primary musical content and it is unlikely that Higdon consciously utilized the key of b minor

since she rarely considers tonalities during the compositional process. She explains, "When I'm

doing sketches, I don't have perfect pitch but something will occur to me and I try to find it on

the piano. I never pay attention to the key. People will tell me, 'Oh, this is in such-and-such

key,' I have to go back and look at the score. I don't know. At no point at any time when I'm

composing, do I ever think, 'This is in the key of...' It's very rare that I plan things out. When it

comes to key areas, I never think about that.",358

Above the sustained harmonies, the first violins return to the ostinato passage previously

sounded by the clarinets and flutes in measure 49 that maintains moments of bitonality.

Simultaneously, the woodwinds display an imitative texture derived from the violins in measure

49 that initially originated from the trumpet and piccolo motive in measure 21. Substitutions in

orchestration of previous material occur frequently in Higdon' s works. As already discussed at

length, such sections often incorporate new material as well, and in measure 63, this is revealed

through soli designated for the trombones and the principal trumpet. The former consists

primarily of sustained chords that solidify the b minor tonality while the latter is the primary

purveyor of melody. The solo trumpet line is largely comprised of second, fourth and fifth

intervals that remain characteristic of this composer.


35Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.










In measure 70, the complexity of the preceding passage immediately ceases and a

drastically thinner orchestral texture remains. The melodic interest is found in the first violins,

divided into four sections that employ Higdon' s characteristic maj or chords in root position. In

the second violins, a new ostinato comprised of shifting e minor and d maj or chords emerges

concurrently in the second violins. The second violins, therefore, exhibit two of Higdon's

primary compositional traits: alternating rapidly between two pitches and utilizing chords whose

roots are separated by a maj or second.

The woodwinds reenter in measure 74 with a flourish of ascending sextuplets, the

extension of the triplet rhythmic motive from measure 21. Before exploring the musical

capabilities of this motive, however, the composer returns to previous material in measure 75

that corresponds to measure 41 with subtle instrumentation changes that varies the material yet

does not mask its recognizable qualities. The violins and celli manipulate the chromatic line

initially scored for the bassoons in measure 44. What was once a continuous chromatic line now

appears fragmented and in imitation. The music does not dwell on the past extensively and the

quotation ceases only eight measures later. The triplet sixteenth motive hinted in measure 74 by

the woodwinds appears in its proper form in the first violins in measure 82 that is followed by

the rising sextuplet figure. This motive becomes increasingly significant and the brief

foreshadowing demonstrates Higdon's intentions to feature it abundantly in the subsequent

passage.

The aforementioned measures gradually increase in textural complexity but in measure 84,

Higdon again severely reduces the instrumental resources to provide a clear presentation of a

solo string passage. Accompanied only by a consistent rhythm in the guiro, the principal strings

play brief melodies. The opening solo in measure 83, scored for the concertmaster, incorporates










the triplet sixteenth motive. (Figure 5-5) This solo is particularly significant not only because of

the use of rhythmic motive but also because the material reappears in measure 147. A returning

concertmaster solo also occurred in the third movement of Concerto for Orchestra. In the latter,

the solo material initially appeared in measure 159 and returned nearly identically at the close of

the movement. The incorporation of a reappearing concertmaster solo, however, comprises the

only similarity as the musical content of the material is unique in each composition.












Figur 5-.Mlmmm 38.5


Eaho h rniplsrnspeensabifsl efr rnfrato ohmpoi









throuhout these opencing string soli. The concertmaster presents the motive only once, but in




the second violin solo it appears twice and three times in the viola. Once the solo strings unite

in homophonic texture, the shape of their respective lines is continually rising and is

subsequently answered by solo woodwinds with a descending line. This miniature interruption

by the woodwinds is surprising within a passage dedicated to the strings but confirms the


359Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










composer' s skill in straying from predictability. In measure 93, the string solo section ends with

another brief solo for the concertmaster thus bringing the passage full circle.

In measure 94, the triplet motive continues in the wood block yet this constitutes only the

beginning of a passage that incorporates significant musical content. The material presented by

the oboes may simply be interpreted as descending scalar figures which is common in the

composer' s woodwind writing. Yet, the sextuplet figure functions as an extension of the triplet

motive that constitutes a rhythmic dialogue between the oboes and the wood block. The

sextuplets conform to the triplet sixteenth note motive in measures 98-99 that provide further

evidence to this link.

Several instances have occurred thus far presenting accented and syncopated melodic lines

for bass instruments. This pattern reemerges and as is customary of the composer, the

instrumentation varies to include the contrabassoon, bass clarinet and tuba.

In many of Higdon' s compositions, the violas are entrusted with a critical role in

displaying accompanying material, a scoring that persists throughout this section. Beginning in

measure 95, the tutti violas present chord clusters in a repetitive rhythm. Although rare, chord

clusters do appear in Higdon's music and in this instance continue to rise in pitch until measure

100. The atypical clusters in the violas are subsequently followed by the composer's

characteristic ostinato figure of alternating pitches lasting until measure 104. The violas,

however, are not the sole purveyor of accompaniment material. The horns and second bassoon

employ a pedal tone on the pitch of D beginning in bar 94 and, although sustained notes are

fairly common for this composer, the instrumentation in this instance is a trifle unusual. Finally,

in measure 98, the trumpets display various maj or and minor chords, an instrumentation that is

pure Higdon.










In measure 100, the harmonic palette is expanded to include the trombones, principal

bassoon and eventually the lower strings. The trombones and bassoons are doubled and sound

rising perfect fifth intervals that are unrelated to the harmonies presented by the trumpets. These

differing sonorities persist until measure 108 and, due to Higdon's penchant for such harmonies

the result is an aural signature of the composer.

The previous wood block presentation of the motive is subsequently transferred to the

vibraphone in measure 100. Since the motive has already been clearly stated by the wood block,

there is no reason for the composer to continually focus on the triplets which appear only subtly

in the vibraphone. As a painter of sound, Higdon' s substitution of tone color and the new

rhythmic guise exemplify her gift for variation.

The brass is temporarily tacet beginning in measure 108; the maj or and minor chord

progressions often orchestrated for these instruments continue to prevail in the low woodwinds.

Simultaneously, Higdon has incorporated a new accompanying figure in the violins. Due to the

inclusion of double stops, the texture is more complex than the oscillating figures found

previously in the violas yet the basic idea of alternating between minor seconds remains

consi stent.

In bar 1 16, the maj or chord progression returns to Higdon' s characteristic scoring in the

trumpets that is further complemented by an alternation between two pitches in the second violin

(D and C in this instance). The violas, marked pizzicato and sounding on the beat, provide a

consistent pedal tone on D lasting until measure 132. To prevent a potential redundancy of this

straightforward rhythm, the tambourine presents syncopated eighth notes. The key of D maj or is

unmistakable. As mentioned earlier, the composer does not intentionally compose in specific

key centers but the consistent use of a D maj or tonality is evident. The same key appeared was










featured prominently in blue cathedral. When asked about the potential significance of this key,

she stated, "I noticed D appearing more. The more people like you I talk to, I start realizing

when I write, 'There' s that D again,' so it could be subconscious."360

Above the ostinato of the violas, a more complex pattern emerges beginning in measure

117. The second clarinet presents an ascending three note motive that is subsequently answered

by the flute and piccolo with a descending motive. This dialogue persists throughout the section

and becomes further enhanced through various instrumental doublings. Simultaneously, the

return of the unifying triplet motive materializes in the flutes. The orchestration has gradually

become more elaborate through Higdon's astute exploration of only a few small motives.

(Figure 5-6)

The music continues to heighten in intensity beginning in measure 123. The celli,

previously tacet, double the second violins' unyielding ostinato. At this point, half of the first

violin section continues to double the second clarinet motive while the remainder of the section

exhibits the three note motive of the first clarinets.

A rare Higdon stylistic trait emerges beginning in measure 127. The composer generally

maintains a consistent meter; however, when metrical changes are employed, they occur at every

measure to signify vital musical moments.361 In this instance, the meter alternates between 4/4

and 2/4 and is paired with a fortissimo dynamic marking that utilizes nearly the entire ensemble.

This passage is one of the maj or climactic points of the first movement and the metrical changes

enhance the intensity.




361)Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

361This is especially true in the third movement. The meter consistently changes in each bar between 5/4 and 4/4 to
separate the solo instrumental sections from ensemble passages.


















C I~ II -







1117







Figure 5-6. .1Ayl. mYe, mm. 117-122.362



Typical of Higdon's orchestral style, new and previous material are combined in measure

127 that results in music that is engaging yet familiar. Fortissimo trills in the woodwinds and

lower strings comprise the new music. The references to earlier sections appear in the

continuing ostinato pattern of the second violins transposed a maj or second higher but

maintaining the D maj or tonality. The purveyor of melody is entrusted to the horns (doubled by

the violins) that produce open fifths recalling the opening of the movement. The harmonic

motion of the horns is nearly identical in the two sections and the reference is solidified through

the instrumentation of the trumpets' consecutive D maj or chords that also appeared in the

beginning measures of the movement.




362 Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










Following this climactic section, the ensemble is instantly reduced in measure 134 to

include initially only the vibraphone and first violins. The vibraphone alternates between the

pitches of C and D that continues to demonstrate Higdon' s penchant for the maj or second

interval. This material may be interpreted as an extension of the second violins' ostinato from

the previous section. The note values are augmented to eighth notes that decrease the tension

and intensity of the music. The first violins are divided into threes to produce a B maj or chord in

syncopation, a pattern that is subsequently transferred to the lower strings. In measure 138, the

second violins play E maj or chords followed by the violas with Db maj or chords.

The composer has made no secret that she enj oys experimenting with orchestral colors and

her curiosity is realized throughout this passage. The first violins' maj or chords are answered by

the clarinets with G maj or chords. Following the second violins, the answer appears in the homs

on a Bb maj or chord. Finally, the violas' dark timbre is contrasted by the answer in the flutes on

a Gb maj or chord. In these question and answer passages, the harmonic progression is fairly

slow to contrast the flurry of activity that occurred previously.

Alterations of the vibraphone's ostinato pattern appear in the third trumpet in measure 137.

Although the note values are increased, the pitches are identical. The celli augment the rhythm

of the ostinato in measure 13 8 and the transposed pitches (G and A) separate the lines of the celli

and vibraphone by Higdon's characteristic perfect fifth. In measure 141, the first violins sound a

repetitive C in consecutive sixteenth notes and, due to similar pitch content remains related to the

ostinato of the vibraphone. The dynamics in these measures never exceed mezzo forte and thus,

offers a clear representation of the "more earthbound, human-scale sections in between"363 the

skyscrapers.


363Pierre Ruhe, "Symphony illuminates soul of city," 4tlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS,
p. 1M.









As mentioned previously, the concertmaster's solo in measure 147 corresponds to the

earlier solo in measure 83 and subsequently repeats three measures later. In measure 148, the

first violin section (sans concertmaster) sustains a C maj or chord. These chords prove to be

noteworthy because of the composer' s fondness for exhibiting such sonorities in one string

section. The second violin solo in measure 149 functions as an echo of the concertmaster and

does not otherwise relate musically to measure 83. Noticeably absent are the triplet sixteenth

notes that frequented the earlier string soli section. The woodwinds initially present maj or

chords but the third of the chord is eventually omitted to exhibit Higdon' s characteristic perfect

fifth intervals. Unity between the two passages is achieved through the celli's additional

statement of the augmented rhythm as well as the continuous seconds of the vibraphone.

In measure 153, Higdon expands the concept of incorporating earlier material by recalling

an entire section. As expected, she alters the orchestration yet the majority of the music

corresponds to the passage beginning in measure 54. The initial bongo solo reappears and is

paired with timpani and wood block in a highly imitative texture that exhibits a greater

prominence of the triplet sixteenth note motive. This polyphonic treatment of the percussion

constitutes the primary difference between the two corresponding sections.

The quotation of the previous passage ceases in measure 161 but Higdon immediately

incorporates another excerpt from measure 29. The heterodox scoring for the first desks of the

strings return paired with a new rhythmic ostinato pattern in the guiro and a solo for the principal

clarinet. The ascending and descending contour of the clarinet solo as well as the inclusion of

the sixteenth note triplet motive are unmistakably connected to the strings and provide a change

of color. Measure 173 continues to correspond to the previous section through the

accompaniment pattern of the woodwinds and melodic bass that recall bar 41. Similar patterns









also appeared in measure 75 and the material here corresponds more closely to the latter due to

the imitative texture of the strings. Although Higdon continues to toy with the order of musical

ideas, simplistically speaking, measures 75-82 corresponds to 174-180. Higdon next returns to a

separate section quoting measures 49-53 in bars 181-185. Another parallel section follows

immediately in measure 186-193 that is closely related to measures 62-69. Thus the entire

passage quickly summarizes the primary musical material throughout the composition in

whimsical and unpredictable sequences.

After an extensive review of earlier material, the composer presents new music beginning

in measure 194. The consistent meter changes throughout this passage signify another climactic

point within the movement that is further enhanced through the fortississimo dynamic marking.

Instruments are doubled to produce an orchestral sound full of grandeur and not since the

opening have all of the instrumental forces been utilized simultaneously. True to Higdon's style,

previous musical material returns in the passage. The violas and several members of the

woodwind section present an ascending scalar figure incorporating the unifying five note motive

from measure 21. Curiously, the maj or and minor chord sonorities return in the trombones and

third trumpet (doubled by the two bassoons and bass clarinet). Higdon typically instruments

such chords with identical timbres and rarely does a mixture of tone colors appear.

An additional point of interest lies in the perfect fifths of the trumpets, flutes and violins.

It is customary for Higdon to score major and minor chords for the trumpets while horns are

often entrusted with fifth intervals. In this section, however, the composer is experimenting with

her own characteristics through slight adjustments of orchestration. Finally, a rapid alternation

between two pitches occurs in the violins doubled by the principal clarinet. Although not an

identical quotation to the woodwind material of measure 49, the harmonic implications are










similar through the separation of parts by a maj or second interval. Temporarily displaying

bitonality, these different parts oscillate to the same pitches to sound in unison thus providing a

brief release to the harmonic tension. Thus, minute moments of bitonality and unison scoring

appear that suggests a kinship to the previous passage.

In measure 212, Higdon thins the texture by omitting the brass and nearly all of the

percussion. Instrumental doublings continue as the movement nears its conclusion. The sparse

orchestration constitutes the Einal "earthbound, human-scale section"364 that lead to the Einal

climax in measure 216 through a return of the full ensemble with fortississimo dynamic

markings. This concluding musical depiction of skyscrapers is unmistakable through the great

volume levels and elevated range of the first violins.

The triplet sixteenth note motive, absent in the preceding passages, reappears subtly in this

bravura coda. The rhythms of Higdon's customary ascending and descending woodwind Eigures

employ triplets and sextuplets, an extension of the original motive. The inclusion of this

unifying device in the final measures not only indicates its significance within .\yl me but

simultaneously reintroduces the triplets that feature prominently in subsequent movements.

(Figure 5-7)

The trombones present repeated pitches in varied rhythms that recall the celli in measure

15 to link the coda to the introductory passage. Finally, the remaining ensemble parts exhibit an

abundance of Higdon's characteristic perfect fifth intervals. Her typical orchestration returns to

place the intervals in the horns while simultaneously featuring maj or chords in the trumpets.

Such instrumentation is intrinsically linked with the composer and, like Atlanta' s "fingerprint,"

Higdon has stamped her own unique signature on the music.

364Pierre Ruhe, "Symphony illuminates soul of city," 4tlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS,
p. 1M.



















Figure 5 =-7. Mlmemm 216-22.36

In~~~~~~~~~~IF~F~~Lj mesr 22,Hgo eun ote aeilfo a 1 n tetnlt fDmjrt

cocuetemvmn.Wtou usin h odid roietems oceeln
thog eryietcl iuain.Tecod iiilysuddol b h rmesrapa

doubledI' by th toboesad iln.Theicuino adtoa ntumnscetsa
eniomn of--- grnerepce famvmn einae sacnetoee.Atog h

hamncpten n htmvryfo h alircrepnin asgte mlyeto











rivrsng ma song to trees rembracs to he natural envronmen of Atant and the surrityounding o

areas. Perr ueo the Aoe tlanita ou rnal-Cton s titutdiondescroibes this moveet as "an homage

365Jemlifearl H igdonitScape (Piluadepias PA: Lawrdo nital Pe s, ude 2002).h tu pes ep










to the city's arboreal treasures and to the creek that ran through her family's yard on Ferncliff

Road in Buckhead."366 Likewise, Mark Gresham refers to the second movement as a "tone

poem, remembrance of the proliferation of green around their Lenox home, (a) beloved creek in

the front yard, and woodlands behind a second home on Mason Mill Road."367 In the same

interview, the composer states, "I thought of the opening as kind of an homage to nature...but a

little bit is almost a call to worship...in the middle movement, nature is such a prominent

thing."368

Higdon extends these thoughts in the liner notes of the recording. ''1ilver1 sings a song to

trees commemorates the Nature that is such a presence in this city. Trees, parks, and streams add

a lush carpet to the landscape, infusing the atmosphere with intense and gorgeous greens that

connect neighborhoods and businesses. The presence of Peachtree Creek (I used to play in one

of the tributaries that ran through my front yard in the Lenox area) reflects moving life and

serves as a reminder of the city's having risen from the Earth itself. The creek also symbolizes

constant change, under calm water and over powerful currents, doing so with exquisite

beauty."369 Higdon' s capitalization of nature indicates a great reverence for the environment.

As stated above, the composer was expected to adhere to specific guidelines for the outer

movements. The second movement contained no such stipulations allowing complete

compositional freedom. Higdon stated, "I had the luxury in the second movement of writing a

tone poem, which is why it's so much longer, so much more reflective. There are so many trees

366Pierre Ruhe, "Symphony illuminates soul of city," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS,
p. 1M.

367Mark Gresham, "Sounds like home," 13 November 2002 (Accessed [9 July 2006]), available from
http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobaeCnntodi%3055 Internet.
3681bid.

369Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.










in Atlanta, and a lot of little creeks, which you don't usually encounter in a city. When you're

flying into Atlanta, it looks like a giant, lush, green carpet with a city poking out of it."370

The orchestration of this movement conforms to Higdon' s earlier orchestral scores

complete with a full percussion section. The water gong, a fairly heterodox instrument, is

utilized in the opening and concluding measures, an inclusion credited to her former teacher,

George Crumb.371 The instrument is found in Crumb's 2undis Canzis (A Dog' s Life), a work in

five movements depicting personalities of dogs he once owned. Crumb describes the dog,

Heidel, as having a "philosophical disposition and confounding depths of personality."372 It is

this movement that utilizes in Crumb's words, "the water-gong glissando effect."373

Higdon explained the employment of percussive instruments in the movement' s opening,

"I have a water gong--a gong that's submerged in water that they're doing a roll on and lift out

of a tub of water...It makes this bizarre, rising sound. Also, the timpani player has certain

crotales sitting on the head of the timpani. He strikes the crotale with a hard mallet--not the

timpani, but the crotale--and then moves the pedal so that ...it' s a weird sound. You've got a

very high-pitched crystal sound (from) the crotale and the waveform is altered by the timpani

head being retuned. Detuned and retuned over and over again. At one point, I have a sizzle

cymbal, which is basically a cymbal with little rivets in it, little screws that vibrate when you





37Andrew Farach-Colton, "Jennifer Higdon' s Concerto Keeps Orchestras on Their Toes and Audiences on Their
Feet," March 2004 (Accessed [16 December 2006]),


37Andrew Quint, "Speaking with Composer Jennifer Higdon: The Communication Thing," Fanfare, May/June
2004, p. 42-45.

37George Crumb, jacket notes, George Crumb, 70th Birthday 41bum, Cond. Thomas Conlin, The Warsaw
Philharmonic and Choir, Bridge Records 9095.

37Ibid.










touch it. The combination of the three sounds...sets up the magic of that movement."374

Although Higdon j okingly remarks that she "stole" the water gong instrumentation from

Crumb,375 there can be no mistaking her unique use of percussion that is prevalent among her

compositions.

The high-paced intensity of.~ Myl me is contrasted through the second movement' s tempo

(quarter note=60) and dynamic range which rarely rises above mezzo forte. The timpani

maintain the D maj or harmony of the previous movement and continue to explore Higdon' s

characteristic open fifth intervals. Rhythmically, this instrument consistently presents triplets

spanning an entire beat to subtly return the motive of the first movement, and demonstrates the

composer's subtle unification. (Figure 5-8)

The second movement begins mysteriously with the percussion and the atmosphere

continues in measure 8 upon the entrance of the strings. While Higdon has clearly demonstrated

an experimental nature in the orchestration of percussion, the strings rarely exhibit less

conventional techniques. Yet the sul ta~sto marking in their entrance is a somewhat unusual

scoring for this composer. The muted trills in the viola, cello and second violin contribute to the

ethereal environment initiated by the percussion.

The composer's stylistic soli for a myriad of instruments abounds throughout the

movement. The principal flute provides the initial appearance of solo material in measure 16 and

unassumingly presents a crucial aspect of the composition. While melodically displaying the

composer' s fondness for perfect fifths, the rhythm is comprised of a triplet followed by a

sextuplet. Similar to the timpani's opening, the triplet occupies an entire beat rather than the


37Andrew Quint, "Speaking with Composer Jennifer Higdon: The Conununication Thing," Fanfare, May/June
2004, p. 42-45.
37Ibid.





































trr;~tr


I---- 1----

n*llrulnr*mu ul
w~liirurnrrrnll


Figure 5-8. river sings a song to trees, mm. 1-6.376











E.Iln,


Figure 5-9. river sings a song to trees, measures 16-21.377


Subsequent woodwind soli are scored for the English horn and principal clarinet. Like the



flute, the ranges are narrow, constituting only a fifth. (Figure 5-9) The soli consist of rising



melodic lines that continue until bar 32 that consequently descend as if to answer their own



questions. The first two desks of the first violins also contribute solo material comprised of



major chords in a slow harmonic progression. (Figure 5-10) Following the decay of the violins'










376Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).


3771bid.


eighth note triplets that dominated the first movement. Although slightly varied, these rhythms



function as a unifying element of City Scape.


~Ic1


,r_

'- ---~---i- ---,-
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soli, the bassoons enter in measure 22 displaying an eighth note-triplet that recalls the motive of

the preceding movement.










Figure 5-10. river sing a solng totres, m.5-2.37

Follwin th cessatio of wodwn soi erclcag o2/ cusi a 5bfr
immediately reunn to 4/4_ intesusqetesr. As- stated preioulmtrcagsi

th wrs f idotpcal desigaesgicatmsclpsgsthtoenftrexedd
soi. Alhog bref thsocrec sntwrh n a b nepeesafrsaoigo









pigrevious. passae. s A subtle o accelerad s, notte internstontaticeaetequrernt



imdae rtri to 66.Th wodwnd rether insqu measure. 38 wihthlteand obeprevosentin ane cascending


sline answered byif the rnipa oclarenei neter and baso ipayin the uifyng triplte foeighthn note

mtieThe solofo viola and cello follow anda cotiue toexplre 4 Frt oer the sextupl etis and triplet



378Jenionifere Hgon, d Ciy Scae (Phiadepiae PA: Lawdon Presso 2002). uete a o hod o





















~ 8--------------

, ----~---


sixteenth note rhythms. (Figure 5-11) Below this montage of activity, the lower strings continue

the trill figures from the earlier section.


Soln~la


Figure 5-11. river sings a song to trees, mm. 40-41.379




An additional accelerand'o appears in measure 50 that increases the quarter note to 72.

Thus begins a section that incorporates a plethora of new material. Repeated patterns occur

rapidly in the clarinets in a sextuplet rhythm while the second bassoon alternates between maj or

second intervals. The three trombones, scored a major second apart, initiate a dialogue with the

horns' consonant fifth intervals. In measure 50, the previous string soli cease and the section is

reduced to the viola and celli in unison. The lines of these lower strings are characterized by

double dotted rhythms. The principal trumpet eventually participates in the double dotted

rhythms resulting in a mixture of bright and dark timbres. The violins reenter in measure 57 with

similar rhythms to initiate an increasingly complex texture.

A ritard'and'o occurs in measure 63 followed immediately by an extended accelerand'o that

increases the tempo substantially in measure 68 (quarter note=92). The dotted rhythms gravitate

to the trombones while the previous polyphonic texture of the strings, flutes, oboes and trumpets




379Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

































Figure 5-12. river sings a song to trees, mm. 64-66.380



The musical climax lasts briefly and in measure 76, a ritardandd~~~dddodddddddd returns the tempo to

quarter note=72. The dynamics decrease to further diminish the intensity of the preceding

passage. In bar 78, the trumpets display Higdon' s characteristic maj or chords while the

trombones sound minor chords a third lower. This muted brass entrance commences a dialogue

with the strings that persists until the stabilization of the meter in measure 104. To avoid

predictability, a principal clarinet solo is incorporated above this dialogue in measure 84. The

solo, albeit brief, recalls the woodwinds' opening of the movement through its rhythm and

narrow range. The scoring for the violins remains typical of Higdon. The principal second and

the first desk of first violinists are included and following the initial statement, only the

principals continue. Worthy of note, the opening violin lines in measure 81 are separated by a


380Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).


converges to homophonic texture. The triplet sixteenth note and sextuplet motives return in the

horns. Marked fortissimo, the motive displays unyielding repeated notes. (Figure 5-12)

The harmonic rhythm gradually increases as the passage progresses to a moment of great

climax. Throughout this section, metrical changes appear frequently. Until measure 104, the

meter is in constant flux and the unifying triplet sixteenth motive from the preceding movement

is featured consistently.










perfect fourth. (Figure 5-13) Throughout this passage, the composer continues to greatly utilize

this interval and its inversion; the latter also appears extensively in the vibraphone.












Figure 5-13. river sings a song to trees, mm. 81-82.381



Between the dialogue of strings and brass, a solo section emerges for the woodwinds in

measure 88. The principal bassoon, clarinet and oboe present a homophonic texture separated by

perfect fourths that is harmonically similar to the strings. The frequent appearances of the fourth

and fifth intervals rarely culminate in the quartal harmonies found in this passage yet such

occurrences attests to Higdon's continuous variation.

The principal clarinet and English horn present new and independent solo material in

measure 92. The fifth interval comprises the primary melodic content that recalls the opening of

the movement. Of particular interest is the triplet sixteenth-note motive introduced by the

clarinet. The woodwind instrumentation increases in the following measures to maintain their

earlier homophonic texture. Simultaneously, in the strings, Higdon returns to the solo scoring of

the concertmaster, assistant concertmaster and principal second violinist that continues the

distinctive quartal harmony. In measure 99, the solo clarinet and English horn resume their soli

and the sixteenth triplet motive now gravitates to the English horn. Following the cessation of

these woodwind soli, the meter stabilizes and the unifying motive once again becomes dormant.

3s1Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









The return of a consistent meter does not conclude a musical section and in fact, a

continuation of earlier musical ideas persists. The strings retain their reduced scoring of violins

and celli consisting primarily of fourths and fifths while the woodwinds return to the

instrumentation and quartal harmony of measure 88. In measure 107, as in the previous section,

soli for the concertmaster and principal second violinist commence. Initially, this material does

not exude great importance; the instruments are separated at the octave and simply present two

descending intervals. In measure 115, however, the concertmaster continues alone with an

extensive solo featuring triplet sixteenth notes and a sextuplet that foreshadows the widespread

employment of these significant rhythmic motives in the subsequent measures. (Figure 5-14)








Figure 5-14. river sings a song to trees, mm. 115-124.382



The accompaniment to this solo represents quintessential Higdon in the employment of

perfect fifth intervals. The cello and viola lines present these intervals in homophonic texture

while a similar scoring occurs in the woodwinds between the second flute, oboe and the two

clarinets. The harmonic spectrum becomes further complicated in the principal oboe and flute

scored a fourth above the clarinets and a maj or second from the second flute and oboe.

Once the concertmaster has reintroduced the unifying rhythmic motives, the Eigures are

transferred to the remainder of ensemble. Although the motive appears occasionally in the

woodwinds, the strings feature the rhythm most prominently with the triplets occurring in nearly



382Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










every measure. The melodic content of this crucial motive ascends by step to contrast the

repeated notes of the earlier concertmaster solo.

In measure 134, the motive expands to include the sextuplet rhythm. Previous passages

that combined these two rhythms often featured the triplet followed by the sextuplet. These

measures, however, do not conform to the prototype and the figures appear abundantly in no

systematic order. (Figure 5-15) In measure 140, a dialogue commences between the strings and

woodwinds comprised of the unifying motives. The discourse ceases immediately in measure

146 and woodwind declamations of the motive are separated by ascending scalar figures, another

frequent characteristic of Higdon. The low brass exhibit a separate homophonic melody that

recalls the orchestration of the woodwinds in measure 105. The second trombone is scored a

perfect fifth higher than the bass trombone and tuba while the principal trombone appears a fifth

higher than the second trombone.














Figure 5-15. river sings a song to trees, mm. 133-138.383

The entire ensemble returns in measure 154 for a climactic presentation of the rhythmic

motive. The woodwinds, in a forte dynamic and homophonic texture, repeatedly display the

triplet motive. The previously featured sextuplet rhythm is noticeably absent which recalls the

opening of this passage. The horns exhibit the ever present stationary perfect fifth intervals. The


383Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










timpani also display a well-known characteristic of the composer by alternating between two

pitches. Often such passages are scored for woodwinds or strings shifting between intervals of a

second but Higdon varies her style and the interval of choice for the timpani is a minor third.

The dynamics diminish to niente to separate a starkly contrasting section commencing in

measure 158. Although the ensemble is greatly reduced, each of the musical lines represents a

significant aspect ofHigdon's style. An ostinato pattern appears in the marimba and the harp, an

unusual instrumental pairing also utilized in Concerto for Orchestra (measure 134 of the final

movement). Because City Scape was composed immediately following Concerto for Orchestra,

several critics have commented on the similarities between the two scores; the likeness in

orchestration of this passage may initially appear to support such observations. Further

commentary on this matter is explored in Chapter Six.

Although a harp and marimba ostinato appears in City Scape and Concerto for Orchestra,

the musical content differs considerably. (Figure 5-16) The marimba line is comprised of a

single pitch in a variety of rhythms that undergoes augmentation before complete exclusion in

measure 170. The viola shares the musical idea of repeated notes. To counteract the

augmentation of the marimba, the viola line presents the pitches slowly before increasing in

tempo. (Figure 5-17) The harp line presents a unifying link between the first and second

movements. Four ascending major seconds consecutively alternate throughout the entire section

that is remarkably similar to the trumpet and piccolo entrance in measure 21 of the first

movement. The ascending figures are doubled by the second flute and clarinet that further

emphasize the motive.
















Figure 5-16. river sings a song to trees, mm. 158-163.384



Simultaneously, the second violins, divided into three, present maj or and minor sonorities.

In Higdon's earlier compositions, such scoring was often found in the violas' sustained

accompaniments. In this instance, the chords portray a melodic line and progress quite rapidly.

As noted earlier, the composer occasionally duplicates musical material in two-measure

intervals. The string pattern conforms to this manner of repetition with modal variation. In

addition, individual soli are scored for the bassoon and piccolo in bar 166, the latter exhibiting

the unifying triplet motive. Although slightly varied, the music also repeats after two measures

and ceases immediately afterwards.











Figure 5-17. river sings a song to trees, mm. 166-169.385

In measure 170, the harp ostinato is slightly modified yet the sixteenth notes persist

relentlessly. The woodwind doubling returns more prominently in varied instrumentation. The

violas display a separate ostinato consisting of a repetitive descending pattern to contrast the



38Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).
38Ibid.









rising harp line. Higdon's penchant for major and minor seconds continues to be revealed in the

violas (Db, B, Bb and B).

The melodic content is presented by the trumpet solo that repeats the material two

measures later with rhythmic alterations. A cello solo occurs simultaneously featuring the triplet

motive and accompanying sextuplet. The pairing of the trumpet and cello soli aptly demonstrates

Higdon's experimentation with orchestral colors.

Following a brief ritardda~ndo, a new section of music commences in measure 179 that

increases the quarter note to 92 and is marked A Piacere. Instances of rubato are unusual in

Higdon's works and ritardand~~~dddiddddddddd or accelerandi appear only to facilitate tempo changes. Yet, due

to the romantic atmosphere of the second movement' s homage to nature, the marking A Piacere

is quite appropriate. As stated above, meter changes often distinguish significant musical

sections. In this passage, such changes occur in nearly every measure that foreshadows

momentous subsequent solo material.

The woodwinds maintain a homophonic texture with an abundance of two-note slurs.

The principal bassoon and second clarinet are separated by the fifth that so frequently occurs in

Higdon's music. The flutes and oboe adhere to this intervallic separation less consistently but its

appearance is more than fleeting and worthy of mention. The sextuplet rhythmic motive briefly

emerges in measure 183 in the oboe (Figure 5-18), 189 in the clarinet and 197 in the bassoon at

which point the rhythm is varied to quintuplets and septuplets. These sextuplets in the

woodwinds present a curious harmonic pattern in the repeated pitches of B, D and G respectively

that comprise a G maj or chord. As witnessed earlier, the composer does not consciously

compose in tonalities but the succession of these notes cannot simply be coincidental. In










addition, these motives undoubtedly recall the opening flute solo in measure 18 that initially

presented these rhythms on a repeated note.




Ob I



Figure 5-18. river sings a song to trees, mm. 183-184.386



As hinted by the consistent metrical changes, a prominent solo section commences in

measure 198. The principal strings, doubled by woodwinds, present a homophonic texture that

continually rises in pitch to increase the intensity. For further enhancement, a crescendo

culminating in fortissimo dynamics is employed that concludes the solo portion. The meter

achieves stability much earlier in measure 203, however, that suggests the solo passage will

conclude shortly thereafter.

Beginning in measure 211, the horns re-enter to present their characteristic fifth intervals

that are eventually doubled by the bassoons and clarinets. These instruments are entrusted with

the critical rhythmic motives. (Figure 5-19) The order of the motives is varied and the sextuplet

rhythm appears twice before the triplet emerges, yet the triplet is featured consistently until

measure 239.

The strings continue their homophonic texture as the ensemble enlarges to include the low

brass and timpani. Of particular interest is the principal trumpet material in measure 213. Each

individual phrase begins with a descending fourth (subsequently varied to a fifth) that constitutes

a clear trademark of the composer. This descending interval was also utilized in measures 63


386 Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









and 187 of the opening movement' s trumpet solo. In both movements, the rhythms are an eighth

note followed by a sustained note. This author does not presume that such a minute detail was

consciously included by the composer nor is there any real likelihood that she purposely

composed these sections to serve as a unifying link. Yet this "coincidence" speaks to the

instinctual compositional style of Higdon.










Figure 5-19. river sings a song to trees, mm. 220-227.387



Following an additional accelerand'o in measure 222, the tempo increases to quarter

note=102, the fastest tempo marking in the movement. The surge in speed coupled with a

fortissimo dynamic marking undoubtedly represents the most climactic section of river sings a

song to trees. An ostinato of repeated notes is scored for marimba and bass that continues until

measure 243. These unyielding sixteenth notes provide a consistent rhythmic drive that further

enhances the intensity. The floor tom supplies additional rhythmic support through consistent

sixteenth notes interrupted by the ever noteworthy sextuplet motive.

Significant musical material occurs simultaneously in the remainder of the ensemble. The

woodwinds and violins proj ect the maj or and minor chords characteristic of Higdon' s style while

the trumpets and trombones imitate polyphonically the descending perfect fourth interval

initially present in the principal trumpet in measure 213. The intervals appear in rapid



38Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









succession to provide a textural contrast to the homophonic woodwinds and strings. A

particularly poignant moment appears in the part of the second trumpet. In measure 224, an

ascending perfect fifth interval (E-B) appears four times in the rhythm of a sixteenth note

followed by a dotted eighth note. Although hardly an exact quotation, the similar pitch content

and Lombardic rhythm recalls the earlier trumpet solo in measure 213.

The unison viola and celli scoring in bar 228 is comprised of a rapid alternation between

two pitches. In place of the maj or and minor second intervals often used in her accompaniments,

the composer chose the less often used minor third interval. Although not nearly as prevalent,

the third appeared in measures 49 and 181 of the opening movement in similar patterns. The two

pitches gradually expand to include ascending scalar Eigures and the triplet sixteenth note motive.

Higdon vaguely references the first movement through the melodic content of the motive. In

measures 120 and 225 of the opening movement, the sixteenth notes consisted of the ascending

pitches B, C and D. In the second movement, the triplet features the same pitches in varying

order. This minimal reference most likely results from Higdon's intuitive process rather than a

conscious decision by the composer.

The woodwinds and strings become independent in measure 243 and, once again, Higdon

experiments with orchestral colors. A subtle change of orchestration presents string doubling by

the brass. The omission of the ostinato pattern in the percussion and bass also contribute to a

new aural environment. The horns (doubled by the bassoons) return to their standard open fifths

that incorporate brief appearances of the triplet rhythm. The sextuplet partner appears in the

woodwinds while both rhythms are featured in the timpani.

In connection with the first movement, the consistent pulse of the second trombone in

measure 255 is particularly noteworthy. In measure 120 of Myl m Ie, the beat is emphasized by









the bass clarinet's rhythm: a dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth rest. This precise rhythm

reappears in the second movement in the trombones and although the pitches are not identical,

both sections present repeated notes that provide a potentially subconscious, yet extremely

subtle, unifying link between the two movements.

The coda is prefaced by a molto ritardand~~dddodddddddddd that decreases the tempo to the initial marking

of quarter note=60. The return of large musical sections, a trend common in Higdon's works,

has been noticeably absent in river sings a song to trees, but the composer reintroduces this

technique extensively in the conclusion. In measure 263, the principal flute reiterates the

opening solo from measure 16 with emphasis on the triplet rhythm in measure 270. The English

horn and principal clarinet vary their respective opening soli while the accompanying muted

trills of the violins and violas correspond to measures 8-24. Unlike the entire ensemble, the solo

violins do not reference the opening but rather the quartal harmony of measure 81. Measure 273

corresponds to measure 159 in the identical scoring of a harp and marimba ostinato. The

marimba, independent in the previous passage, doubles the harp through augmented rhythms.

The ascending motives continue to comprise the patterns in the harp but the coda utilizes

figurations separated by a perfect fifth rather than the major second of the earlier section.

Therefore, when the patterns alternate in the coda, the result is an extended ascending scale

Eigure. The mystical beginning is referenced through the reappearance of the water gong

presenting descending and ascending pitches and thus the movement closes in the manner in

which it began. As witnessed in the Concerto for Orchestra, Higdon often includes a variety of

previous musical material in her codas. Frequently, these passages reference the opening

measures as well as other significant sections to bring the music full circle while simultaneously

serving as a Einal summation of the movement.










The formal design of Peachtree Street, a rondo, was stipulated by the commissioning

ensemble which, according to Higdon, actually facilitated the compositional process. "They

asked for the last movement to be a rondo, so I knew all I needed to do was find material to fill

in the blanks."388 The "blanks" feature individual sections of the orchestra separated by the

rondo theme. Since the premiere, Peachtree Street has been programmed on children's concerts

as an example of rondo form389 and explores various orchestral instruments in a manner

comparably taken by Benj amin Britten in his Young Person 's Guide to the Orchestra.

The title of the movement derives from the primary thoroughfare in Atlanta. Higdon

describes the music from the perspective of a native Atlantan in the liner notes, "The final

movement is 'Peachtree Street,' in honor of this primary artery that runs through the city. With

its narrow lanes and winding character, this street is so full of life and energy, forever changing

and growing, moving slowly and moving fast, that it serves as a reflection on us. Every turn

brings something new and different, and carries us to places and people that have meaning in our

lives."390 The music adheres strictly to this program with the "new and different" portrayed in

the episodes while the "life and energy" is the rondo theme.

The instrumentation of Peachtree Street is less extensive than the preceding movements

primarily in the woodwind and percussion sections. Although the reduction of percussion

instruments in this movement is atypical, the variation continues to exhibit Higdon's capacity for

contrast within her orchestral scores.




388Pierre Ruhe, "Symphony illuminates soul of city," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS,
p. 1M.
389Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra, Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.
3901bid.










Extensive solo passages for individual sections appear in Concerto for Orchestra and

City Scape. Significant soli are a prevalent aspect of Higdon' s style, but those unfamiliar with

her works, have mistakenly dismissed City Scape as a miniature duplicate of Concerto for

Orchestra. On the contrary, the manner in which Higdon employs this technique varies

considerably to serve as a testament to her creativity that again, is further investigated in Chapter

Six.

Higdon continues to eschew descriptive terms in favor of metronome markings with the

tempo of the finale designated as quarter note=142-152. The movement commences with a

juxtaposition of two maj or chords resulting in the bitonality that frequently occurs within her

compositions.

A brief, one-measure introduction by the trombones and percussion presents unyielding

sixteenth notes that crescendo rapidly to the rondo theme. As mentioned previously, this theme

is comprised of a juxtaposition of two separate maj or tonalities that remain a harmonic

characteristic of the rondo theme throughout subsequent presentations. The higher instruments

appear in D maj or while the viola, celli, horns and bassoons simultaneously begin in C maj or.

The fortissimo rondo theme abounds with syncopation and contains a plethora of rests, yet

intensity is maintained through interj sections of sixteenth notes on repeated pitches by the

trumpets.

In measure 8, the flutes cease doubling the violins to become independent rhythmically

and melodically. The flutes are accented and explore a high range while alternating between the

pitches of C and A. Although such patterns occur frequently in Higdon's works, in this instance

the chosen interval is a minor third rather than a second and the rhythm is considerably slower in

comparison to the rapid oscillation commonly employed.










In measure 16, the sixteenth notes scored for the trumpets gravitate to the horns and violas

with a varied rhythm comprised of eighth note triplets. The repeated notes are replaced by three

recurring pitches (G, A and B) that emphasize Higdon's favored major second interval. These

triplets bear no relation to the unifying motives that frequented the previous two movements and

are simply a variation of the original trumpet declaration. This adjustment in instrumentation is

fleeting and in measure 20, the trumpets resume their opening material.

Although the general mood of excitement prevails, a slightly subdued portion of the rondo

theme begins in measure 20. The dynamic marking diminishes somewhat and the articulation of

two-note slurs comprised of descending pitches offers a lyricism that contrasts the opening's

syncopated rhythmic intensity. (Figure 5-20) Curiously, only half of the second violin section is

employed but in subsequent presentations, Higdon scores the entire section to enrich the

orchestration.
















Figure 5-20. Peachtree Street, mm. 20-24.391

The opening syncopated material returns in measure 26 that serves as a brief reminder of

the primary melodic content of the rondo theme. In comparison to Higdon' s other orchestral

compositions, the scoring in the brass at this point is unusual. The composer frequently entrusts


391Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).










maj or chord progressions to the trumpets yet because this movement utilizes only two trumpets,

such scoring is impossible. Higdon maintains the maj or sonorities but for practical reasons, the

instrumentation is comprised of two trumpets and the principal trombone. These chords consist

of two-note slurs in a descending line that recalls the slightly more expressive, earlier passage.

The lyrical quality and rhythmic intensity of the rondo theme, therefore, are masterfully

combined to conclude the first large section of the movement.

Metrical changes in Higdon's work signify prominent musical sections. While the rondo

theme consistently appears in 4/4, the meter alternates between 4/4 and 5/4 in episodic passages.

Beginning in measure 30, the first episode explores the string section through a polyphonic

texture comprised of tremendously significant material. The cello introduces a subject-like

statement that opens with five ascending pitches clearly referencing the piccolo and third trumpet

motive in measure 21 of Myl m Ie. Returning unabashedly, this motive comprises nearly the

entire melodic content of the first episode and continues to unify the three separate movements.

In measure 30, the cello presents the motive twice consecutively. The "subj ect" is retained

briefly before the second violins introduce the material in measure 32. The violas commence two

measures later omitting the subj ect in favor of a shifting pattern between two pitches. (Figure 5-

21) Only in measure 36 do the violas explore the possibilities of the subj ect through an

unrelenting repetition of the motive.

As noted earlier, Higdon repeats patterns frequently in two-measure intervals. In this first

episode, the individual entrances adhere to this formula and because the meter alternates

consistently, each begins in a 4/4 measure. Following the violas, the first violins commence in

measure 36 to display the motive twice before evolving into a brief melodic passage. The

accompanying material of the lower instruments comprises various manipulations of the motive.










Between measures 38-42, the violas and celli briefly lose their independence and present unison

material, an orchestration consistently employed by the composer. In measure 40, a change to

homophonic texture offers a short-lived moment of relaxation to contrast the previous

polyphonic splendor.













Cb.


Figure 5-21. Peachtree Street, mm. 30-34.392



The basses enter in the final bars of the episode and the motive, presented previously in

each of the strings, is curiously absent. The violins and viola continue the homophonic texture,

while the celli and basses, separated by a fifth, present a different ascending line. A crescendo

culminating in a fortissimo dynamic leads to the return of the rondo theme in measure 45.

The full ensemble returns with the primary thematic content and slight variations

accompany this considerably truncated presentation. In the opening, the rondo theme extends 29

bars while in this subsequent passage, the material lasts only 12 measures. The sixteenth notes

previously featured solely by the trumpets are shared by the principal horn to maintain the

rhythmic drive characteristic of the theme. The flutes return to the alternating C and A

syncopation of measure 8 to avoid direct quotation from the opening. These subtle changes fail


392Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









to detract from the distinctive qualities of the rondo section and the arrival of the material is

aurally unmistakable. The final measures of the theme are nearly an exact repetition of the bars

preceding the string solo and appropriately lead to the second episode.

The woodwind section is featured beginning in measure 57. Similar to the string episode,

an extensive polyphonic texture is maintained throughout the episode to contrast the homophonic

rondo theme. The initial soli are presented by the principal bassoon and clarinet in unison while

the principal flute and second bassoon provide accompaniment material. The flute exhibits a

repetition of consecutive sixteenth notes separated by a minor second interval. The second

bassoon presents a countermelody to the solo material of the clarinet and principal bassoon

which repeats four measures later in measure 61, a somewhat unusual occurrence since Higdon

generally opts for two measure repeating patterns. (Figure 5-22)

In measure 61, the initial clarinet and bassoon solo is imitated precisely by the flute and

therefore, provides a likely rationale for the repetition of the second bassoon countermelody.

Additional accompanying material, however, varies considerably. The principal bassoon

presents a repeated pitch that replaces the alternating flute line while the clarinets, in thirds,

exhibit ascending two note slurs. The rhythm and articulation of the latter resemble the rondo

theme in measure 20 and anticipate the lyrical oboe solo that follows in measure 65. The oboe

does not participate in imitating the previous soli and displays an expressive line with slower

moving note values that gradually evolve to the consistent sixteenth note rhythms characteristic

of the episodic soli. The accompaniment beneath the oboe solo presents another Higdon

harmonic trait; trills for the upper woodwinds separated by intervals of a maj or second and

perfect fourth. The second episode concludes with the unyielding sixteenth notes typical of her

woodwind orchestration.











SnlO


---- t~-


-$- --~

--I i


I~ -t
/I


Figure 5-22. Peachtree Street, mm. 57-61.393



As expected, the rondo theme returns in measure 73. Rather than quoting the syncopated

opening, Higdon introduces the material from measure 20 that utilized only half of the second

violin section. In this encounter, however, the orchestration and texture is greatly enriched

through the scoring of both violin sections with double stops. In measure 79, the more

distinctive aspects of the rondo theme return but her quest for variety continues in the brass. The

trumpets and principal trombone present ascending maj or chords in a homophonic texture that

repeats after only six beats. Truncated additionally from the previous two appearances, the

rondo section spans only 10 measures and concludes with the material that preceded the earlier

episodes.

The subsequent solo passage begins in measure 83 and features the timpani, glockenspiel

and xylophone to represent the percussion section. Due to Higdon's penchant for a vast array of


393Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).
































~I"
"'"'*

I
'M~aa

f


percussion instruments, the employment of only three instruments in this episode is a noteworthy

contrast. The timpani part is comprised primarily of the composer's characteristic intervals of a


perfect fifth and maj or second in a continuous eighth note rhythm. A repetitive pattern is

initially introduced in measures 83-85 yet the composer eschews predictability by altering the

order in which the measures appear. Only in the final bars of the episode does the pattern return

to the original order.


Figure 5-23. Peachtree Street, mm. 83-85.394




The glockenspiel and the xylophone present a fragmented melodic dialogue in an imitative

texture that continues to be a hallmark of the episodic material. The melodic instruments are

marked forte while the timpani encompass only a mezzo forte dynamic. This disparity is

undoubtedly due to the limited range in volume of the glockenspiel and the xylophone in


comparison to the timpani. (Figure 5-23) In the final bar of the episode, the glockenspiel is

replaced by the snare to present repetitive sixteenth-notes with the xylophone. The dynamics are

reduced substantially during this conclusion to facilitate the gradual entrance of the full

ensemble.




394Jennifer Higdon, City Scape (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).









An interesting phenomenon during this passage invites comparison between Peachtree

Street and Concerto for Orchestra. The percussion lines of the former provide continuous

ostinato patterns throughout the reemergence of the full ensemble. A similar use of the

percussion appeared between the fourth and fifth movements of Concerto for Orchestra. One

may be tempted to view this section of City Scape as an imitation of a successful formula used in

Concerto for Orchestra. The current author maintains that these occurrences bolster the

uniqueness of the composer.

In measure 100, the full ensemble gradually renters beginning with the strings, the

principal oboe and the continuing percussion from the preceding section. The oboe presents a

brief ostinato comprised of two alternating pitches separated by an octave in an eighth note

rhythm. The horns enter in the subsequent measure on the pitches of A and C to display the

repeated sixteenth notes initially associated with the trumpets. These brass punctuations aid in

referencing the returning section since the primary melodic material of the woodwinds and

strings do not directly quote the rondo theme. As in earlier passages, the higher ranged

instruments are doubled and present maj or chords while the lower ranged instruments display

maj or chords a second lower. The material corresponds particularly to measure 20 (and 73) of

the rondo theme. Although the musical lines in the earlier passages descend, the contour is

reversed in measure 100 to radiate a gradually soaring line. The two sections are undoubtedly

related, however, through similarities in the horn, the bitonal harmonic idiom, lack of

syncopations and the multitude of articulated two note slurs. This relaxed portion of the rondo is

enhanced through an extended crescendo that culminates in a fortissimo dynamic marking in

measure 104. (Figure 5-24)





















Figre -2. PectreSret m.1010.9


An aditoainraeidyaishihestevlm tofrissioimese10

and~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ isfrhrelre yteetac ftetrmesadtobnsta ipydul h

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39Jmifuer Higdon PeCity Scape(Piae lpia PA: Lawdn Prss,002)










of perfect fifth and minor seventh intervals that is comparable to the timpani part of the

percussion episode.















Figue 5-5. eachreeStret, m. 14-11.39

The upe wodwnd prvd h rmaymldcmteria anrdulydmiihi
voue lhuhartrad i o rsnardcinintent auspoueh same

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comnlties uexis between therondo the rmer an ldi trnstion. an (Fg re dal 5-25)s i





39Jmlifer cHigdon Cirtyd Scapsecd (Piadlhia, PA: Lawon Press, 2002). raston h lnsofec










The brass episode commences in measure 1 19 and continues the soft dynamics of the

transition. The tuba, second trombone and three horns initially begin the passage with a

homophonic texture, a stark contrast to the earlier highly polyphonic episodes. The second

trombone and principal horn present the melody in thirds while the remaining horns and tuba

consist of maj or and minor chords. The result is a somewhat bitonal passage, a distinctive

element of the rondo theme.

In measure 120, the tuba establishes Higdon's characteristic pattern of alternating pitches

separated by a major second. Simultaneously, the trumpets and principal trombone enter with

the primary melodic material consisting of an ascending line separated by rests. A crescendo

enhances the intensity while the texture becomes increasingly more complex. Beginning in

measure 125, a homophonic texture emerges for horns two and four, the second trumpet, the

trombones and tuba presenting varying intervals with no distinguishable harmonic pattern. The

continuous eighth note rhythm unifies the episode despite frequent transformations in the

melodic content.

A highly polyphonic texture initiated by the trumpet commences in measure 125. An

unassuming motive comprised of four ascending sixteenth notes (initially spanning from B-E)

serves as the basis for subsequent imitation while simultaneously unifying the entire

composition. A similar motive appeared in river sings a song to trees in the harp ostinato of

measure 159 and in the five note figure in measure 21 of Myl m Ie. Like the finale, the motive in

the opening movement begins on B and is presented by the trumpet.

Above this motive, the third horn displays Higdon's characteristic ostinato of alternation

between minor seconds. Unlike earlier examples, an abundance of rests are incorporated to

foster intensity. The entire brass section rises in pitch accompanied by a crescendo to increase










the momentum that ushers in the polyphonic imitation distinctive of episodic material. (Figure

5-26)

The second trombone enters the dialogue by echoing the tail of the trumpet line of

measure 128. The imitation between the horn, trumpet and trombone continue in two measure

intervals and ascends in pitch until bar 134 when the motive becomes dormant. In the final two

measures of the episode, the eighth note accompaniment continues while horns one and three

display triplets congruent to the rondo theme in preparation for the return of the primary theme.




Hu. 1-3 Ifi. ;rtF.fEti _i









Figure~~~~~~-T~ 5-6 eahre tet m .15-2.9
Th etie nsmbereurs o hernd tem i masr 15.Cuioslthaltenaio
of meter peioul relegated tote psde otine ni esr17weh ee

stailze. Wihu questions ~theemesre onttueth etr o hernd heean h
rainl sunla fo th nta erclcags



39 emlferHidon Ciy cap (Pildelhia P: Lwdo Pess 202)









In measure 137, the musical material, although transposed, returns to a separate section of

the rondo theme that corresponds to measure 26. Straying from the order of the initial

presentation is characteristic of Higdon, yet it is noteworthy that she does so within a highly

structuralized rondo. Clearly, the composer does not restrict herself to textbook definitions of

this form. Four measures later, Higdon again transposes the material to repeat the passage with a

new harmonic idiom. Of particular interest is the consecutively accented pitch of D presented by

the violas that places emphasis on the composer' s seemingly favored tonality. Once again, the

rondo theme is greatly truncated, spanning only 10 measure before ceasing in 145.

After the previous four episodes featured the individual orchestral sections, the movement

could reasonably conclude with a final presentation of the rondo theme yet Higdon' s music

remains unpredictable. In measure 145, the transition from measure 113 reappears in

transposition with subtle changes in instrumentation as well as an additional musical line. The

principal flute displays the new material that consists of a descending stepwise melody. At the

close of this transition, the composer includes a molto ritardda~ndo which was absent from the

earlier corresponding section. The gradually lengthened rhythms from the initial material are

retained but with the ritardand~~ddd oddd~~~~dd the dramatic elements are greatly enhanced. In the final bar of

the transition the meter changes again to 5/4 that implies an additional subsequent episode.

The foreshadowing metrical change does indeed begin another episode that includes the

entire ensemble. Greatly expanded, the episode continues to feature orchestral sections and

maintains the initial order of each individual appearance. The strings enter in measure 151 to

recall the trumpet and piccolo motive from .1Ayl/ me. (Figure 5-27) The string portion of the

episode lasts a brief six measures before the woodwind entrance in measure 157.










One may reasonably anticipate a solo woodwind section but the strings continue with a

nearly identical repeat of the immediately preceding material. Similar to the strings, the

woodwinds recall its earlier episode with few alterations. The material lasts four measures and is

repeated before the percussion commences in measure 165.

As the instrumentation expands, the texture becomes gradually more complex. The strings

continue to present material derived from the ascending sixteenth note motive with the exception

of the violas which double the clarinets in the accompanying material from the woodwind

episode. This line was absent in the preceding measures and only reappears in measure 165.

The string section, therefore, simultaneously combines its previous episodic material with that of

the woodwinds. The percussionists, however, comprise the primary musical content with a

return to the trio instrumentation of timpani, glockenspiel and xylophone.











Figue 5-7. Pachtee Sreet mm.51-14.39
The brs insrumnt commence~_ prmpl in mesre19ina ccmayigrle h

presntaio ofmtra rmterrsetv psd sdlydutlmaue13adteat


ony ou masre. nlketh crrspndngepsoeth tumet ae aiedwih h

398Jenife Higdo Ct cp PiaepiP:Lwo rs,20)










trombones to present maj or chords while the horns sound separate chords from the trumpets that

are separated by a maj or second. The violins double the woodwinds in rapidly ascending and

descending figurations. The lower strings double the brass while curiously, the percussion

instruments are tacet. Aided by a crescendo, the gradually enlarged ensemble increases the

volume to enhance the excitement for the final return of the rondo theme. The final episode,

therefore, serves as a summation of all previous episodic material. The concept of returning

musical ideas in new guises is typical of Higdon and although the motivic connection to earlier

movements is subtle, such links create a strong case for performing the work in its entirety.

Measures 177-178 function as a brief transition to the return of the rondo theme. The

meter returns to 4/4 with musical material borrowed from the opening of the rondo theme in

transposition. With the exception of the trumpets and principal trombone, the entire ensemble

displays a homophonic texture associated with the principal theme. In earlier passages, the

trumpets presented repeated sixteenth notes. This rhythm is maintained by the trumpets and

trombones in this subsequent section but the repeated pitches are replaced by ascending and

descending major chords. These sonorities provide cohesiveness to the previous section while

the sixteenth note rhythm references the opening material.

The rondo theme commences in measure 179 with a nearly exact quotation of the opening.

After a clear association to the theme is cemented, the material varies immediately in measure

180. As is customary for Higdon, the return of significant sections is presented in a myriad of

orders and variations in orchestration.

The final three measures continue aspects of the theme complete with the trumpets,

trombones and tuba exhibiting the repeated sixteenth notes affiliated with the rondo section. The

meter in the concluding two measures changes to 5/4, a curious choice since the rondo theme










appeared consistently in 4/4. A homophonic descending scalar figure precedes a sforzato D

major chord, a tonality prevalent in Higdon's orchestral works. Unquestionably, the composition

ends with the excitement and intensity characteristic of finales.

In each of the three movements, rhythmic and melodic motives are present that unify the

composition despite the stipulations of the commission to be able to perform the movements

independently. The unifying elements greatly enhance the composition and as such, City Scape

deserves complete performances. Besides the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, only the Green Bay

Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra have programmed the entire work.

.1yl /ine, commissioned to serve as a concert opener, has been performed by the Allentown

Symphony Orchestra while Peachtree Street has received exposure by orchestras of higher

repute including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the

Charleston Symphony Orchestra.399 A preference for the finale amongst programmers is clear.

This author proposes that a rondo form provides audience familiarity; .1Ayl ine does not conform

to a rigorous classical structure. river sings a song to trees is lengthier and less likely to be

incorporated into the standard concert program of opener, concerto and symphony and has yet to

be performed separately.

Although the reviews have largely been positive, as discussed in Chapter Six, the ultimate

assessment of the strength of the work must be left to the test of time. The possibility of

performing the composition piecemeal is an advantage for ensembles concerned with

conservative audience' s reactions to new music. Both .1Ayl/ ine and Peachtree Street may

adequately serve as concert openers and similar to blue cathedral have garnered more

performances likely because of their smaller length. Although the individual movements are


399Jennifer Higdon, Complimentary Press Kit, 2006.









musically interesting enough to stand independently, the work as a unified whole produces a

more comprehensive understanding of the composer' s stylistic tendencies and her subtle use of

unifying devices are more pronounced in a complete performance. Throughout the three

movements, the characteristics of Higdon' s orchestral writing become universally defined and

the maj ority of her stylistic traits witnessed in blue cathedral and Concerto for Orchestra

continues to find a unique place within City Scape.









CHAPTER 6
CRITICAL RECEPTION

Critical reviews of Higdon' s orchestral compositions remain somewhat sparse due to her

recent exposure on the national symphonic circuit. Without question, the majority of criticisms

published are quite positive and these laudatory praises often comment on compositional

characteristics that separate Higdon from her contemporaries. Yet as with all composers, not all

critics are enamored of her compositions. Despite the present author' s favorable opinion, all

reactions to her works must be included to present a complete account of Higdon' s critical

reception.

blue cathedral remains the most performed symphonic composition of Higdon and as such,

more reviews have been published on this particular work. Throughout history, reactions from

the public and the critics have varied substantially but in the case of blue cathedral, these often

conflicting factions both responded positively which likely accounts for the numerous

performances the work has garnered since the premiere.

In The San Francisco Classical Voice, Jeff Dunn called this symphonic poem "magical,"

and stated, "Higdon is an expert at varying soloistic opportunities among instruments."400 In the

same journal, Scott MacClelland reviewed a performance at the Cabrillo Music Festival and

remarked, "The program opened with orchestrally opulent Blue Cathedral...a lushy (sic) and

colorful edifice that rises from the intimate and personal to a high-flying fireworks show..."401

The San Francisco Classical Voice has consistently published stellar reviews of this composition

by various music critics. The most glowing review in this periodical stems from the pen of


400 Jeff Dunn, "Warhorseless," San Francisco Classical Voice, 12 June 2003 (Accessed [27 May 2006]),

401 Scott MacClelland, "Strong Current Works," San Francisco Classical Voice, 15 August 2004 (Accessed [27 May
2006])









Benj amin Frandzel, who opined the "strongest sensation it creates is pleasure in its sheer aural

beauty..."402

The San Francisco Classical Voice is not alone in its praise. Bob Keyes of the Portlandlt~l~lt~ltlt~lt~

Press Herald (Maine) proclaimed bhte cathedral "as among the most daring and inventive new

compositions to surface in years"403 and William Furtwangler of the Post and Courier Review

(Charleston) stated that bhte cathedral "fascinates and inspires, in a mid-20th century American

style."404 Finally, while reviewing the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra' s performance of the

work, David Lindauer commented, "This is a remarkable piece of music, not only beautifully

crafted and full of special effects, but communicating intensely personal feeling as well."405

Although the above reviews contain perhaps the most praiseworthy adjectives available in

the English language, few of the writers comment specifically about which aspects of the music

they found appealing. Jeff Dunn's mention of Higdon's penchant for colorful soli remains an

isolated exception. The reviews, however, are noteworthy despite the omission of detailed

accounts of the work.

Negative reviews of bhte cathedral continue to be a rarity, although Joshua Kosman, a

music critic for The San Francisco Chronicle opined, "Certainly 'Bhte Cathedral for all its

coloristic invention doesn't boast much musical substance that lingers in the memory. Some

flute and clarinet solo lines representing the composer and her late brother, wind around each


"0 Benjamin Frandzel, "Winners All," San Francisco Classical Voice, 3 July 2004 (Accessed [27 May 2006]),


" 3Bob Keyes, Neil\ Year, new magic from PSO: The first Tuesday Classical series of 2005 features a guest baton
and an ethereal piece by an acclaimed female composer," Portland Press Herald (Maine), 30 January 2005, sec.
AUDIENCE, p. E1.

"0 William Furtwangler, "Orchestra displays 'unbridled convention,"' Post and Courier Review, 19 March 2006,
Nation Section, p. A-2.

"0 David Lindauer, Ri\ tll ASO's 'Ode to Joy'-musical, masterful, and majestic," The Capital (Annapolis, MD),
11 May 2006, Entertainment section, p. A-10.










other beguilingly, but otherwise the writing is generic."406 This commentary could certainly

never be mistaken as praise, yet Kosman's history reveals a plethora of scathing commentaries.

Reviewing a recording of Verdi's La Traviata released by Deutsche Grammophon, he stated,

"It's not every day that a maj or record label releases a train wreck like this 'Traviata,' the musical

performance captured here is close to a Hiasco...the chief malefactor is conductor Carlo

Rizzi...the singers aren't much help either, with Netrebko's ferocious but labored Violetta and

Thomas Hampson's smarmy, maudlin Germont... Sad, sad, sad."407 Like all critics, Kosman is

subj ective, of course but when unkindly disposed towards a work, he utilizes extreme adj ectives.

Particularly troubling about his comments on bhte cathedral is the lack of precise detail on

which aspects he disliked explicitly. It is difficult to ascertain what Kosman means by his

characterization of the work as "generic." Curiously, the lack of specifies in both the positive

and negative reviews is strangely similar.

Reviews for the multi-movement orchestral works are less abundant primarily because

they have received fewer performances. Of the published commentaries, reviews of Concerto

for Orchestra appear highly favorable; indeed the praise seems almost excessive. For example,

The Classical Voice of North Carolina's Jeffrey Rossman writes, "When one sees the title

'Concerto for Orchestra,' most people would immediately associate it with Bart6k. Well, move

over Bela, you're going to have some competition from now on because Jennifer Higdon has

usurped your title and may surpass even you."408 Armed with a more objective viewpoint, David

Hurwitz from ClassicsToday.com writes of the work and composer, "Jennifer Higdon' s lively


"0 Joshua Kosman, "Neale makes most of Saint-Saens symphony," San Francisco Chronicle, 10 March 2004, p. D-


"0 Joshua Kosman, "CD Reviews," San Francisco Chronicle, 11 December 2005, Sunday datebook section p. 47.

" 8Jeffrey Rossman, "An Evening of Baby-Boomer Composer," Classical Voice of .. ah Carolina, n.d. (Accessed
[9 July 2006])









allegros and poetic slow movements, modern in conception and technique yet approachable and

not afraid of a good tune now and then, strikes me as some of the best work being done on the

contemporary music scene."409 Perry Tannenbaum from the American Record Guide opined,

"Higdon is so brilliant a colorist that her music teems with beguiling ideas. It would be churlish

to criticize. A rigorous sense of purpose sparks this concerto from the outset."410 Finally,

Andrew Clark' s assessment from across the pond states, "This was its UK premiere, and a fine

impression it made, thanks to Higdon's tingling sonorities, her superb technical confidence and

the bright, blazing energy of her idiom. Although the five-movement concerto lasts 35 minutes,

Higdon uses her material with such variety and resourcefulness that nothing outstays its

welcome."411

Unlike commentaries available for blue cathedral, the reviews of this composition include

specific detail about not only the work but also the prominent aspects of Higdon' s style. The

musical energy in the allegro movements, referenced above, remains one of her most appealing

characteristics to audiences. More importantly, however, the mention of orchestration and

instrumental coloring is significant, for without question this attention to timbre is the sine qua

non of her music. Although the current writer is particularly fond of Concerto for Orchestra, it

is premature to conjecture that this composition may surpass BartC~k' s work as suggested by

Rossman; a comparison between the compositions is unnecessary. Neither did Higdon "usurp"

the title from BartC~k. Numerous works utilize this designation.



409David Hurwitz, review of City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra, by Jennifer Higdon, ClassicsToday. com, 17 March
2004 (Accessed [10 July 2006])

410Perry Tanenbaum, "North Carolina Symphony," American Record Guide, 69:3, May-June 2006, p.17-


411Andrew Clark, "BBC Symphony/Slatkin Barbican," Financial Times (London, England) 8 April 2004, p. 16.









This author believes that Higdon' s Concerto for Orchestra is truly a masterpiece through

its unique scoring, its evocation of abundant moods and its many brilliant solo excursions.

Certainly, this work truly is a "Concerto for Orchestra" in the best sense of the term.

Of the three works researched, City Scape has received the least number of performances

largely due to the newness of the composition. The current author believes the work is only

beginning to gain momentum with the public and symphonic programmers. For example, the

National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. performed the entire three movements as

recently as May 17th, 2007 under the baton of Leonard Slatkin. This latest national exposure

from a leading orchestra will likely inspire other orchestras to consider the work.

As mentioned previously, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra premiered the complete

composition, although the commission stipulated that the three movements be able to function

independently. As a result, the movements are more often performed separately.

The reviews are generally favorable but never attain the level of praise present in

commentaries of the earlier works. Particularly noteworthy is the detailed level of criticism that

provides the reader with specific knowledge regarding the aspects of Higdon' s music that

attracted or disenchanted the various writers.

In response to the above mentioned performance by the National Symphony Orchestra,

Robert Battey provided an obj ective and detailed description of the complete work. "Higdon's

music is lithe and expert. Although not all the thematic material is particularly memorable, there

is no empty note-spinning, and her snazzy pieces stick in the mind. She is particularly expert in

her percussion writing...and 'City Scape' features extremely imaginative passages for an

extensive battery in all three pieces. The percussion does not simply add color and flavor to the










orchestra; it has its own idiomatic themes as part of the music's basic material."412 Battey then

offers sparse additional commentary on the individual movements.

About the opening movement, C. Michael Bailey writes, "Skyline (sic) is a musical profile

of the city texture. It is busy but not nervous, achieving crescendo and diminuendo in all of the

right places and conveying a vibrantly alive and living organism in her fanfare horns."413

Curiously, Bailey offers very vague commentary on the remaining two movements. A writer

based in Philadelphia, David Patrick Stearns, regularly publishes reviews and articles on Jennifer

Higdon, who is coincidentally his neighbor. Despite the personal relationship, his opinion on her

music remains obj ective and his judgment of this movement differs considerably from Bailey.

"The first movement is a smaller but more obvious move toward a traditional format... In

between lies a carefully planned arc that seems to have no inhibiting effect on Higdon's sense of

invention. Still, SkyLine' lacks the carefully distilled quality of the Concerto for Orchestra (a

deficit that wouldn't be conspicuous if you didn't know the earlier piece)."414

The second movement, river sings a song to trees, consistently received the most laudatory

responses of the three movements, although it is performed the least. Stearns comments, "This

music is frankly and unabashedly beautiful, but it never seems like a concession to audience

conservatism. It's sincere stuff-and unlike similarly inviting works ranging from Gabriel Faure

to Lowell Liebermann, the ear doesn't grow sated early on. There's so much variety, so many





412Robert Battey, "From NSO, the Energy of a 'City,"' The Washington Post, 18 May 2006, p. CO6.

413C. Michael Bailey, "Jennifer Higdon? City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [21 January 2007]),
available froml httpl w\ il \\ allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id= 13412; Intemnet.

41 David Patrick Steams, "Jennifer Higdon' s Exterior/Interior City Scape," 4nd'ante Corporation, November 2002,
(Accessed [21 January 2007]), available from
htt \\ \\ landante.com/article/article.cfm?id=19228&ihiht1hglghtrs&stKeywords=: Intemnet.










beguiling sounds that you've never previously heard, that you can't tear your ears away."415

Battey's impression of the movement is likewise positive stating, "The second, 'river sings a

song to trees,' is particularly original; fluttering, shimmering sounds gradually give way to

several haunting, primal-sounding themes building to a well-developed climax. Some woodwind

chorales evoke Barber, but this piece, at the very least, should have an active life of its own after

these initial premieres."416

The final movement received mixed reviews. Bailey writes, "The final piece, 'Peachtree

Street' is a bouncy summertime celebration with thundering percussion and lightening strings.

Higdon's phrasing is appropriate, but it also is very smart."417 It remains unclear precisely what

Bailey finds appropriate and smart about Higdon's musical phrasing and no additional

commentary is included. Stearns, on the contrary, found this movement to be the weakest of the

triptych. He comments, "And though that movement takes off from busy traffic into more

inward landscapes, it's the one part of City Scape that seems short-winded and perhaps in need of

revision."1

Anthony Burton from BBC M~usic Magazine provides one of the rare reviews of the entire

composition, but he was not particularly enamored with the music. "The first movement brash

and thrusting like the Atlanta skyline, the second an over-long hymn to nature, the last urban

again, and reverting to concerto-for-orchestra mode to feature strings, woodwind, percussion,


415David Patrick Steams, "Jennifer Higdon' s Exterior/Interior City Scape," 4nd'ante Corporation, November 2002,
(Accessed [21 January 2007]), available from
http1 \\ \\ \\.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=19228&ihiht1hglghtrs&stKeywords=: Intemnet.

416Robert Battey, "From NSO, the Energy of a 'City,"' The Washington Post, 18 May 2006, p. CO6.

417 C. Michael Bailey, "Jennifer Higdon? City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra," (Accessed [21 January 2007]),
available froml httpl w\ il \\ allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id= 13412; Intemnet.

41s David Patrick Stearns, "Jennifer Higdon's Exterior/Interior City Scape," 4nd'ante Corporation, November 2002
(Accessed [21 January 2007]), available from
litt w\ il andante.com/article/article. cfm?id=1 9228&hihighlgt=1 &highlightterms=&1 stKeywords=: Intemnet.










and brass in turn."419 Noteworthy are the stark differences between the American critics and

Burton in regards to the second movement. The aforementioned reviews commented specifically

on the beauty of the second movement while Burton clearly disagreed.

Burton poses a significant concern in regards to the similarities of Peachtree Street and the

Concerto for Orchestra, both of which feature individual orchestral sections. These two works

are likely to be linked together for several reasons and it is curious that other reviewers did not

comment on the parallels. Because the two works were premiered in close proximity, one may

reasonably conjecture that Higdon utilized similar formulae. In addition, the compositions are

paired together on a recording and if listening to the works in succession, the parallels are

unmi stakable.

Connections do exist between Concerto for Orchestra and City Scape, yet these

similarities comprise Higdon's unique approach. The extensive soli for orchestral instruments

remain a significant aspect of her style and serves as a personal signature to her work. Soloistic

ventures also appeared in bhte cathedral, although the orchestration varied considerably from the

multi-movement works. While orchestration alone may not be a highly compelling factor for

comparison, the functions of the featured orchestral sections in the later works are also related.

In Concerto for Orchestra, the primary purpose of these passages demonstrates instrumental

capabilities while in City Scape, the orchestral sections constitute episodic material that contrasts

the rondo theme. In both works, the subsequent result is a dialogue between the individual

sections and the full ensemble. Concerto for Orchestra and City Scape clearly have these factors

in common, yet the musical content varies exponentially. Although conforming to similar





419Anthony Burton, "Higdon: ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS," BBC Music Magazine, 1 June 2004, p. 62.









structural patterns, these works offer significant musical contrast that sufficiently classifies each

composition as umique.

The current author believes City Scape fares considerably better when the three movements

are performed together. The unifying elements present in the work provide a stronger coherence

and structure that is unachievable when the individual movements are performed piecemeal. It is

curious that reviewers who experienced the entire composition did not mention these significant

elements and it is possible that these aspects remained unrecognized during an initial hearing.

True to Higdon's style, the unifying elements are never stated blatantly and she frequently

imbeds such motives deep within the texture; therefore, it remains quite possible that the critics

were unable to identify these components.

The music of Higdon has received in general, positive reviews and responses. The public

view tends to support the favorable comments. In the annals of history, discrepancies of opinion

between the general public and music critics are quite common and, once again, one must wait

with patience for the ultimate test of time to determine the music's longevity.









CHAPTER 7
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

The orchestral works of Jennifer Higdon reveal a contemporary composer adept at pleasing

both audiences and musicians and thus, has already garnered a firm position in the standard

concert repertoire. Within the past decade, her career has escalated in large part due to recent

exposure from the nation's leading ensembles. As such, Higdon's music rightfully deserved a

thorough research analysis to fully comprehend her style. It is the hope of this author that this

study will further the understanding of both the composer and her symphonic compositions.

Performing this music requires an orchestra of considerable talent. Not only are the

technical demands daunting (such as in Concerto for Orchestra, the most difficult of the three

works studied), but extensive solo material abounds for numerous musicians within the

ensemble. Historically, the concertmaster receives a plethora of soli, but, in the compositions of

Higdon, significant solo excursions are scored also for the assistant concertmaster and second-

stand musicians in the violin and cello sections. This unorthodox instrumentation provides

opportunities for excellently-trained musicians, but is likely to surpass the capabilities of many

amateur orchestras; however, regional and collegiate orchestras continually program her

compositions which suggest they are not relegated only to the upper echelon of symphonic

ensembles.

Higdon describes her compositional method as "intuitive" and, therefore, many of the

findings in this research surprised the composer. Unifying elements within the multi-movement

works in particular were astonishing to her, yet the abundances of these occurrences eliminate

even the possibility of a coincidence. It is outside the realm of this author' s expertise to

speculate on the manner in which the composer' s mind binds these elements, but without

question, a subconscious component is evident in her works. In nearly all of the examples










presented to Higdon, she considered these results remarkable and was unable to explain the

phenomena, but she affirms her mind functions in precisely this manner. Although one may

never state with confidence that composers in the past benefited from subconscious

compositional methods, there can be little question that Higdon relies heavily on this mysterious

aspect.

The compositional style of this composer is remarkably similar to those of centuries past.

During a time when composers enj oy technological advances that may facilitate the process, her

method remains somewhat conservative. In her own words, she states, "I use both pencil and

paper, and the computer. I don't do the kind of playback that a lot of people might expect,

because computers cannot reproduce the sounds that I'm trying to achieve. I sketch and keep a

notebook and I write a lot of verbal notes to myself, thematic materials for both instruments, and

then I put things into the computer. I do not hear large chunks of music in my head. I tend to

hear ideas and then try to find a way to present those musical ideas and craft them in such a way

that they'll be engaging to listen to, which means I do a lot of erasing and deleting and rewriting.

I'm constantly changing from day to day trying to make the music more interesting."420

Although separated by centuries, Higdon's method links her significantly to a plethora of

composers from the past and through her, the symphonic genre continues to evolve.

While the modernity of Higdon' s fame has inspired this author' s studies, various avenues

of research on her music remain unexplored and deserve consideration. A comprehensive

analysis of her chamber works would prove indispensable in further identifying compositional

characteristics. The possibility of locating intuitive elements in her smaller works is possible and

may shine additional light on her musical style. In addition, the commissioning ensembles of

420Kirk Noreen, "Y Music Talk: Composer Jennifer Higdon," 92 Y Blog (Accessed [16 May 2007]) available from
http://blog. 92y. org/index.php/weblog/item/interview~with cmpserj ennifer~higdon/.










Higdon's chamber music regularly feature works by modern composers and are frequently

dedicated to promoting new music. In this genre, Higdon has employed more avant-garde

techniques. Without question, new music aficionados' tastes differ substantially from the often

more conservative symphonic audiences. In this author's previous, yet limited research of

Higdon's flute works, extended techniques and unorthodox notation appeared frequently; both of

these contemporary elements are omitted from the orchestral scores. In this manner, Higdon's

concern for audience comprehension becomes reality. She understands thoroughly the differing

flavor of audiences in each specific venue but further study on the chamber works is necessary

for a more thorough grasp of this composer.

Relating the music of Higdon in the context of queer studies may appeal to some

investigators. The composer is adamant that gender discrimination has not affected her career;

theories pertaining to her sexuality are likely to garner a negative response. With the number of

performances her works receive, it is quite clear that these factors have not created an obstacle.

Yet a potential connection between sexuality and gender in music cannot be completely

eliminated since numerous neurological questions remain unanswered regarding such areas. In

the recent past, historical musicology has dedicated much effort and research on these topics

with inconclusive results. Perhaps in the future, equipped with new information from the

sciences, a comprehensive study would produce concrete Eindings.

Currently a national phenomenon in western art music, Jennifer Higdon has enjoyed a

fame that most composers never experience during their lives. This recognition is principally

due to the publicity surrounding these specific orchestral works that continue to appear on

concert programs throughout the nation. At the time of this writing, few purely orchestral works

have been composed subsequently by Higdon and certainly none with the length of the three










compositions examined in this research.421 Although the test of time continues to be the ultimate

factor in determining a composer's longevity, her recent prominence within a typically

conservative genre is beyond noteworthy. Comprehending specifics on audience appeal often

proves mysterious and inexact, yet this composer has undoubtedly attracted the attention of the

public. As such, a thorough analysis of her orchestral compositions was necessary. This author

believes that Higdon' s music provides an optimistic outlook to the potentially grim future of

western art music. While her music may be termed populist and accessible, such descriptions

should not suggest a pej orative connotation. The composer places great emphasis on reaching

new and modern audiences, a concern that resounds throughout the entire classical music

community. Jennifer Higdon has proven that new life within a tradition centuries old is possible.

At this time, her star is luminous and continues to rise.

























421Light, composed in 2006, is the only pure orchestral composition to emerge recently and in contrast to the
extensive works discussed in this document, spans only four minutes.










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[http://www.grovemusic.com.1p.hscl.ufl.edu]. May 2006.

Walker, Paul. "Stretto." Grove M~usic Online ed. L. Macy.
[http://www.grovemusic.com.1p.hscl.ufl.edu]. July 2006.









BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Christina Reitz (b. 1978) received a B.M. in piano performance from the Dana School of

Music in Youngstown, Ohio where her principal instructors included Dr. Caroline Oltmanns and

Dr. Timothy Ehlen. During her undergraduate studies, she received the Mary P. Rigo Memorial

Scholarship for Outstanding Keyboard Major and won an honorable mention at the Dana

Concerto/Aria Competition. In 2002, Ms. Reitz graduated from the University of Florida with an

Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy studying with Dr. Kevin R. Orr.

Her concentration in doctoral studies, also at the University of Florida, was in musicology

studying under Dr. David Z. Kushner with external cognates in piano performance and women's

Studies. During her graduate work, Ms. Reitz was the recipient of the John V. D'Albora

Scholarship for Excellence in Graduate Research (2002-03). She was also nominated for a

University Teaching Assistant Award (2005) and for the Phyllis M. Meek Spirit of Susan B.

Anthony Award for promoting the opportunities, rights and advancement of women at the

University of Florida and in the Gainesville community (2006). A frequent present at the

College Music Society's Southern Chapter, she received the Outstanding Student Paper Award

in 2004 for her research on Maria Szymanowska.

The primary interest of Ms. Reitz is female composers. She has presented lectures and

lecture-recitals at the local, regional, national and international level on Maria Szymanowska,

Lili Boulanger, Alma Mahler, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Jennifer Higdon. Conference

appearances include the College Music Society's Southern Chapter, Nineteenth Century National

Studies Association, International Festival of Women Composers and the University of Florida' s

Graduate Student Forum.

An active pianist, Ms. Reitz has performed in numerous masterclasses and solo recitals.

She attended the Aspen Music Festival and the Recontres musicales en Lorraine in Nancy










France. Her performances and an interview on competition preparation have been broadcast on

WYSU in Youngstown, Ohio. Ms. Reitz has competed in the Beethoven Piano Sonata

Competition, the Donna Turner Smith Memorial Competition, the Wideman International Piano

Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. As a collaborative

musician, she has accompanied various faculty and guest artist recitals at the University of

Florida and was a member of the Palm Trio, a piano and wind group that presented recitals

throughout Northern Florida. A diverse pianist, Ms. Reitz has performed in Early Music

Concerts on harpsichord and New Music Concerts on piano.

Her teaching experience at the University of Florida includes Graduate Music History

Review, Introduction to Music Literature, Musical Styles, Piano Skills, Private Studio Piano as a

Secondary Instrument, and assisted in the Music Theory Department. She has also served on the

panel of organ juries at all levels and substituted for Dr. Kevin R. Orr for piano study at the

maj or levels. At Youngstown State University, she was the instructor of technique for piano

maj ors.





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1 COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS OF SELEC TED ORCHESTRAL WORKS BY JENNIFER HIGDON By CHRISTINA L. REITZ A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

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2 2007 by Christina L. Reitz

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3 To Mr. Listopad, my high school calculus t eacher, who said I would never amount to anything

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my parents, Scott and Linda Reitz, my brother and sister, Timothy and Danielle Reitz, for unending support thr oughout my graduate schooling a nd health obstacles along the way. They continue to keep me grounded in reality. I offer humble gratitude to the members of my committee Dr. David Z. Kushner, Dr. Kevin R. Orr, Dr. Arthur C. Jennings, Dr. Leslie Odom and Dr. Angel Kwolek-Folland for the encouragement and assistance while jumping through the final hoop. To Jennifer Higdon, I am highly indebted for the generous sharing of her time, and interest in my research and to Lawdon Press for allo wing reproductions of copyright material. Lastly, to my very best friend, Leonardo Va lenzuela, I offer my undying gratitude for the beauty and laughter you conti nue to add to my life.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................................ .........6 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................10 2 JENNIFER HIGDON: BIOGRAPHY COMPOSITIONAL METHOD AND STYLISTIC TRAITS.............................................................................................................15 Biography...................................................................................................................... .........15 Compositional Method...........................................................................................................28 Stylistic Traits............................................................................................................... ..........33 Harmony........................................................................................................................ ..33 Melody......................................................................................................................... ....35 Rhythm......................................................................................................................... ...36 Texture........................................................................................................................ .....37 Orchestration.................................................................................................................. .38 Forms.......................................................................................................................... .....39 Program vs. Absolute Music...........................................................................................41 Unifying Devices.............................................................................................................42 Conclusion..................................................................................................................... ..43 3 BLUE CATHEDRAL.............................................................................................................44 4 CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA.........................................................................................73 5 CITY SCAPE..................................................................................................................... ...158 6 CRITICAL RECEPTION.....................................................................................................218 7 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION.....................................................................................227 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................236

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6 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3-1 blue cathedral : mm. 40-43, modal ambiguity between horns and trombones.....................54 3-2 blue cathedral : mm. 114-117, Higdons counterpoint of textures.....................................64 3-3 blue cathedral : mm. 149-153...............................................................................................69 4-1 Concerto for Orchestra I, mm. 1-4.......................................................................................83 4-2 Concerto for Orchestra I, mm. 2-6.......................................................................................84 4-3 Concerto for Orchestra I, mm. 29-33...................................................................................87 4-4 Concerto for Orchestra I, mm. 94-97...................................................................................93 4-5 Concerto for Orchestra I, mm. 133-136...............................................................................95 4-6 Concerto for Orchestra II, mm. 1-2...................................................................................102 4-7 Concerto for Orchestra II, mm. 22.....................................................................................104 4-8 Concerto for Orchestra II, mm. 23-24...............................................................................105 4-9 Concerto for Orchestra II, cello motive, mm. 68-69, 71-72..............................................108 4-10 Concerto for Orchestra II, mm. 115-116.........................................................................110 4-11 Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 1-6................................................................................115 4-12 Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 42-47............................................................................117 4-13 Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 56-62............................................................................119 4-14 Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 82-86............................................................................119 4-15 Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 123-126........................................................................121 4-16 Concerto for Orchestra III, concert master solo, mm. 159-162.......................................123 4-17 Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 177-182........................................................................125 4-18 Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 191-192........................................................................126 4-19 Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 238-244........................................................................127 4-20 Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 245-251........................................................................128

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7 4-21 Concerto for Orchestra IV, mm. 1-5................................................................................134 4-22 Concerto for Orchestra IV, mm. 72-74............................................................................138 4-23 Concerto for Orchestra IV, mm. 91-95............................................................................139 4-24 Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 1-5.................................................................................141 4-25 Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 24-26.............................................................................143 4-26 Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 52-53.............................................................................145 4-27 Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 91-96.............................................................................147 4-28 Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 135-141.........................................................................150 4-29 Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 151-154.........................................................................151 4-30 Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 164-165.........................................................................152 4-31 Concerto for Orchestra V, mm.186-189..........................................................................155 5-1 SkyLine, mm.19-24..............................................................................................................166 5-2 SkyLine, mm. 31-33.............................................................................................................167 5-3 SkyLine, mm. 37-40.............................................................................................................169 5-4 SkyLine, mm. 49-51.............................................................................................................170 5-5 SkyLine, mm. 83-87.............................................................................................................173 5-6 SkyLine, mm. 117-122.........................................................................................................177 5-7 SkyLine, mm. 216-220.........................................................................................................182 5-8 river sings a song to trees mm. 1-6....................................................................................186 5-9 river sings a song to trees measures 16-21.........................................................................186 5-10 river sings a song to trees mm. 15-21..............................................................................187 5-11 river sings a song to trees mm. 40-41..............................................................................188 5-12 river sings a song to trees mm. 64-66..............................................................................189 5-13 river sings a song to trees mm. 81-82..............................................................................190 5-14 river sings a song to trees mm. 115-124..........................................................................191

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8 5-15 river sings a song to trees, mm. 133-138..........................................................................192 5-16 river sings a song to trees mm. 158-163..........................................................................194 5-17 river sings a song to trees mm.166-169...........................................................................194 5-18 river sings a song to trees mm. 183-184..........................................................................196 5-19 river sings a song to trees mm. 220-227..........................................................................197 5-20 Peachtree Street mm. 20-24.............................................................................................202 5-21 Peachtree Street mm. 30-34.............................................................................................204 5-22 Peachtree Street mm. 57-61.............................................................................................206 5-23 Peachtree Street mm. 83-85.............................................................................................207 5-24 Peachtree Street mm. 100-104.........................................................................................209 5-25 Peachtree Street mm. 114-119.........................................................................................210 5-26 Peachtree Street mm. 125-129.........................................................................................212 5-27 Peachtree Street mm.151-154..........................................................................................214

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9 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS OF JENNIF ER HIGDONS SELECTED ORCHESTRAL WORKS By Christina L. Reitz August 2007 Chair: David Z. Kushner Major: Music My research explores the most recent sym phonic compositions of Jennifer Higdon that has propelled her to national fame A stylistic analysis of blue cathedral, Concerto for Orchestra and City Scape reveal compositional traits un ique to this composer th at differentiates her music from contemporaries. A principal reasoning for such differences is fundam entally related to her compositional philosophy and her self -described intuitive style. This study examines and defines this style with pertinent illustrations of its num erous manifestations in her music. As a living composer, Higdon is able to contribute signi ficantly to numerous questions about her experiences and the analysis of her music. Her intuitive method remains her primary compositional technique and as such, this doc ument places great emphasis on defining this strategy with illustrative examples.

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10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The orchestral music of Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962) has recently achieved great recognition within the contemporary symphonic circuit. Previously known primarily as a composer of chamber works, Higdon is becoming increasingly a ssociated with the nations leading orchestras through prominent commissions and performances This popularity has produced a significant need for an academic study of Higdons com positional style, methods and appeal to contemporary audiences and musicians. The com poser has not produced n early the number of orchestral compositions in comparison to her abundance of chamber works but a comprehensive analysis of her symphonic works reveal distinguishing compositional traits. blue cathedral and Concerto for Orchestra were chosen by this author due to th e plethora of performances received since their respective premieres. Higdon suggested the inclusion of City Scape her most recent composition in the genre, to complement the research. Each of the works emerged as commissions from prestigious ensembles and con tinues to be performed regularly throughout the United States. This study focused exclusively on these three compositions with careful detail dedicated to harmonic and melodic content, instrumentation a nd unifying devices. The primary focus of the research wa s dedicated to defining Higdons unique compositional style. As a contemporary com poser, Higdons forms and harmonic language are unrestricted; therefore, a traditional harmonic analysis is not applicable. As a result, this author has elected to locate recurring harmonic tr ends throughout all three compositions. The methodology throughout the study reconciles accepted musicological approaches with feminist research to place great emphasis on the composers personal thoughts. Delving into previously published material on the composer and her works naturally comprised the preliminary stages of the study. A comprehensive analysis of the individual

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11 works followed with focus on recurring elements in an effort to identify compositional characteristics. Simultaneously, examining the or iginality of the three works was necessary to confidently label this composer as creative, ra ther than one who simply adheres to successful formulae. An interview and continuing written correspondence was esse ntial in providing a voice for the composer. Higdons reflections on her thoughts and feelings during the compositional process are critic al to achieving a thorough understa nding of her music. The woman cannot be separated from her music; theref ore, a consistent dialogue from the composer was most advantageous. Higdon has described herself as an "intuitive" composer in numerous articles and interviews yet with little explana tion of what this means. In ar ticles and interviews with the composer, this descriptive term surfaces with little supplemental explanation provided. A portion of this research was dedica ted to defining and locating tangi ble examples in her scores of this compositional method. If Higdon truly writes intu itively, then it woul d be unlikely that she could provide concrete answers to theoretical inquiries about her music, yet a thorough analysis revealed these aspects clearly. The composers reaction to a realization of her compositional method proved most fascinating. Studying a living composer provides the likeli hood of receiving direct commentary from the horses mouth. Too often in musicologica l research, questions remain unanswered simply because one may never state with authority th e intention of a deceased composer. Countless speculation is frequently the result. Because research is compiled decades after a works composition, contemporary accounts are sparse and memories of those with a personal connection to the subject have proven questionabl e and erroneous. Access to a living composer

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12 may not supply answers to all questions but personal contact with Higdon offered valuable insights while providing an opportunity for her voice to be heard. One particularly fascinating aspect of the st udy was the identification of cyclical elements within the multi-movement works. Preliminary re search did not disclose such components but Higdons intuitive style did reveal such unifyi ng devices. These results provided a more thorough explanation of her compositional methods. The primary reason for this study emerged fr om Higdons newly acquired fame and as a result, the review of the lite rature yields limited results. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians oft considered to be the authoritative refe rence, does not mention Higdon in either the latest printed edition or the onl ine resource. Thus, this author believes that a comprehensive analysis was necessary to complement the existi ng material of contempo rary American female composers. Newspapers and magazines have published numerous articles on Higdon and she expressed serious concern about th e incorrect information that occu rs in these sources. Indeed, during the preliminary research, inaccurate st atements were frequent. As such, printed statements in these resources needed to be verifi ed by the composer. This author aims to present the authoritative source on Higdons orchestral music. Two separate studies have been published recently on her music. It is interesting to note that in both cases the authors were women. Th e potential role that gender serves in music composition has been examined with inconclusive results in current musicological research. Higdon does not believe that gender factors into her music or her current popularity. This author chose not to speculate further.

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13 The two published studies in existence were pr oduced to fulfill the requirements of a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree. Deena K Reedys A performers guide to creating a listening road map: applications to late twentieth-centu ry solo flute compositions by American women composers Joyce Mekeel and Jennifer Higdon was completed in 2002 at the University of Nebraska. This author considered Reedys docum ent insightful in a previous study of Higdons flute works. Although only rapid.fire was included to represent the composer, the methodology consisted largely of e-mail correspondence and telephone interviews th at produced valuable primary source material. This study aims to increas e accessibility of modern solo flute works to a broad audience; as such, the concept re lates to Higdons com positional doctrine of communicating to her listeners. The document does not attempt to define the parameters of American music or female composers, but the se ctions dedicated to Higdons music have proven helpful. More recently, Jennifer Higdon: A Stylistic Analysis of Selected Flute and Orchestral Works by Brenda Rossow Phillips was completed in December 2005 at Arizona State University. The document includes analysis of Autumn Reflection, Legacy and blue cathedral The blue cathedral chapter offered extensive commentary on the programmatic aspects of this work but lacked footnotes and incorporates only minima l references to personal interviews with Higdon. This author excluded these passages from consid eration because unreferenced statements were unverifiable. In addition, Phillips study fo cused on programmatic as pects while previous research by the present author indicates th at Higdons compositions are not explicitly programmatic. Although the bibliography was not extensive, a plethora of primary source material was a valuable asset.

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14 These two theses represent the entirety of sc holarly research dedicated to the music of Higdon. As of this writing, no additional dissertati ons were registered th at explore her music; therefore, a pressing need for a se rious study remains. It is the hope of this author that academic institutions will equal the efforts of contempor ary musicians in explor ing her works. Higdons orchestral music has elevated her career and reputa tion to new heights. The subsequent chapters explore the primary elements of her music that have captured the atte ntion of musicians and audiences alike.

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15 CHAPTER 2 JENNIFER HIGDON: BIOGRAPHY, CO MPOSITIONAL METHOD AND STYLISTIC TRAITS Biography Jennifer Higdon was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 31, 1962. Six months later, the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Re ared by artistic parents, she explored numerous creative outlets in her youth, ranging from writing short stories and poetry to experimenting with eight millimeter claymation1 movies with her brother, Andrew. Her father was an instructor at the Atlanta College of Art while work ing as a freelance commercial artist.2 At the age of 10, Higdons father and mother, a dabbler in abstra ct quilting, grew weary of the citys school system; the family relocated to a 40-acre farm3 in Seymour, Tennessee to be nearer to paternal and maternal grandparents.4 Although the quality of educa tion was adequate in the Atlanta Public School System and violence was minimal, the parents believed a rural environment would benefit the children. The primary factor in the transfer was to be closer to extended family; indeed, the parents frequently en couraged the Higdon children to visit their grandparents. (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., ema ils 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) The peaceful nature and mountains that decorate the countryside of Tennessee provided Higdon with a lasting 1 Claymation describes animation of clay figures.--Claymation Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (Accessed [14 March 2007]) available from http://209.161.33.50/dictionary/claymation; Internet. 2 Brenda Rossow Phillips, Jennifer Higdon: A stylistic analys is of selected flute and or chestral works, (DMA doc, Arizona State University, 2005), 2. 3Phillips, op. cit., 3. 4Mark Kanny, Higdon brings energetic works to the city, Pittsburgh Tribune Review 30 October 2005, Arts and Entertainment Section, p. E-2.

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16 compositional inspiration. Nature remains an essential aspect in her compositions and in particular, Higdon states, I often think a lot of the mountains in all my pieces.5 As a child, Higdon was not introduced to wester n art music but the family encountered a vast array of culture through expe rimental films and art exhibits. Such exposure provided an early orientation in relating her surr oundings to visual artistic stimuli.6 A hobby during the composers childhood was photography, an influence initiated by Joel Meyerowitz,7 a friend of her parents.8 Higdon recalls, The first photo I ever t ook was of Joel, sitting on his porch, eating a peach.9 As a child, Higdons aspired to writing and according to the composer this passion significantly impacted her music. She states Writing poetry and st ories taught me about rhythm and pacing. For me, musical themes are like the characters in a play.10 Yet few of her compositions are programmatic. Higdons musical influences stem from her count erculture parents who encouraged artistic expression that led her to questi on experimentation for its own sake While still in Atlanta, she consciously decided the avant-garde was unnecessarily obscure, 11 a philosophy that continues to 5Doug Mason,Prelude in Tennessee: Grammy Winning Composer had her Musical Beginnings in Blount County, Knoxville News-Sentinel 18 September 2005, sec. E, p.1. 6Renate Brosch, Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon, Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from http://magazin.klassik.com/magazines/template.cfm?SEITE=1&START=1&AID=879 ); Internet. 7Meyerowitz (b. 1938), a street photographer in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, exclusively utilizes color photography.-Meyerowitz, Jo el, Joel Meyerowitz photographer, (Accessed [1 June 2006]) available from http://www.joelmeyerowitz.com/photography/biography.html ; Internet. 8Karen Rile, The Accidental genius, The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006]) available from http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0 705/feature01sidebar.html ; Internet. 9Ibid. 10Ibid. 11David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from

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17 affect her compositional output In an interview with Gramophone Higdon humorously agrees that an aversion to experimental music may orig inate from an overexposure to modern art in her childhood that got all th at out of my system.12 A lack of traditional musical training c ontributes extensively to Higdons creative personality. Higdon states, My background is co mpletely different than most classical musicians' backgrounds....my background is much more similar to most people who grow up in this country...very, very little Classical, and a lo t more of everything else But because I listened to the Beatles so much, as well as Simon & Ga rfunkel, reggae, Rolling Stones, Peter, Paul, and Mary, bluegrass, and country, I believe that I ha ve to have been influenced by that music. (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., em ails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) According to the composer, this unorthodox background provided a freedom from compositional systems and preoccupations. She states, I tend to work in stinctively rather than in standard forms.13 Higdons earliest encounter with applied music o ccurred at age fourteen as a percussionist in her schools marching band. The composer comments on the rhythmic emphasis, We werent learning to read musical notes in a clefit was studying rhythm. (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) Rhythmic significance remains crucial in her compositions and undoubtedly originates from her initial experience as a percussionist. A year later,14 Higdon discovered an inexpensive flute in the attic and through a http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms =jenni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet. 12 Vivien Schweitzer, Christopher Theofanidis and Jennifer Higdon: Two of a Kind, Gramophone, September 2003, p. A1. 13Andrew Clark, My preoccupation is writing good music, The Financial Times (London, England) 29 March 2004, p. 17 14Karen Rile, The Accidental genius, The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006]) available from http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0 705/feature01sidebar.html ; Internet.

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18 dated instruction manual began teaching herself.15 After completing the initial book in the series, her mother purchased the next three levels and by the end of the year, Higdon became principal flutist in the high school band.16 The flute remains her primary instrument. She has recorded her own solo and chamber works for this instrument.17 Higdon studied only a few months with a flute instructor. In the town of Maryville, Tennessee, Higdon met Jan Vinci (a former Judith Bentley18 student currently employed at Skidmore College) who informed her of a summer flute camp at Bowling Green State University with Bentley on the faculty. Afte r gaining acceptance, Higdon real ized that Bentley was such an amazing teacher that I knew immediately 19 this specific environment would produce a rewarding educational experience.20 This extremely concise peri od of study exposed her to the appropriate audition repertoire.21 After completing her secondary educati on, Higdon began studying with Bentley 22 in 1981 in a flute performance curriculum at Bowling Green State University.23 Although excelling in 15 Higdon recalls that the flute method book she used was the First Division Band Method Part 1 C Flute (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) This pedagogical tool is still in existence and published by Belwin (ISBN 0769219675). 16Karen Rile, The Accidental genius, The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006]) available from http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0 705/feature01sidebar.html ; Internet 17 Recordings in which Higdon performs as a flutist include I Virtuosi, Volume I, ASIN: B00000HYY and rapid.fire I Virtuosi-IVR 501, where she collaborates on Steeley Pause, Lullaby and The Jeffrey Mode, and is a soloist on the cover composition. 18 Bentley is a renowned flute teacher and active performer who spent the majority of her teaching career at Bowling Green State University. 19Phillips, op. cit., 3-4. 20Ibid. 21 David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms =jenni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet. 22 www.jenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]).

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19 lessons, Higdon felt insecure in the core musical knowledge due to her minimal exposure to art music. She remarks, I had no idea what theory wa s, I had no idea what an interval was. I didnt know what a major chord was. I was starting at the bottom. The entire time I was studying, I felt I was catching up. The other kids came in knowing the Beethoven symphonies. I didnt. Talking to students today (at Curtis), Im shocked at what I didnt know.24 She continues, I had to take theory for dummies and learn what an interval isI didn t grow up around classical music and Im sure that has influenced my choi ces in musical language and also my love for melody.25 While at BGSU, a favorite orchestr al composition was Maurice Ravels Daphnis et Chloe, a ballet commissioned by Sergey Diagh ilev for the Ballets Russes in 1909 Higdon recalls, Ill never forget that feeling of the music flowing around us.26 She did not perform the solo in the Ravel during her collegiate tenure but as Co mposer-in-residence at the Bard Conductors Institute in 2003, Higdon received another opportunity. The pers on who was playing first flute in the orchestra was also one of the conducting st udents and she was supposed to conduct a little segment of the Ravel. So they asked me if I woul d sit in and read it. Now, I hadnt played in an orchestra since Bowling Green and I had not looked at that solo since then.27 The solo was successful28 and illustrates Higdons continuing commitment to performance. 23 Andrew Clark, My preoccupation is writing good music, The Financial Times (London, England) 29 March 2004, p. 17. 24Ibid. 25 Michael Anthony, Composing an ode to the oboe; Prolif ic composer Jennifer Higdon muses on writing her latest concerto, a premiere by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), 24 September 2005, Sunday, Metro Edition, p. 2F. 26Andrew Quint, Speaking with Composer Jennifer Higdon: The Communication Thing, Fanfare May/June 2004, p. 42-45. 27Ibid. 28Ibid.

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20 Higdons initial exposure to composition origin ated from Bentley who proposed the young student write a work for a masterclass with flutist/composer Harvey Sollberger.29 Bentley explained the 12 tone method30 and the resulting two-minute pi ece for flute and piano was titled Night Creatures .31 Higdon remarks on her budding compositional interest, I found it fascinating to put sound together. I dont know w hy that hadnt occurred to me before. I could tell that was something I was going to be doing down the road.32 During Higdons second year at BGSU, the unive rsity replaced the quarter system with semesters. Several courses previously studi ed by Higdon were eliminated and supplemental courses were not offered at the time which prevente d her from graduating in four years. In the interim, she attempted to satiate her budding inte rest for composition by petitioning to register for composition courses but was rejected because the classes were restricted to majors.33 Robert Spano became a conductor at BGSU dur ing Higdons final year. She requested and received permission to participate in his gra duate conducting course. A meeting with Spano facilitated Higdons transition from performer to composer. The conductor urged her to pursue studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.34 Throughout this period, 29 Michael Anthony, Composing an ode to the oboe; Prolif ic composer Jennifer Higdon muses on writing her latest concerto, a premiere by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), 24 September 2005, Sunday, Metro Edition, p 2F. 30 Andrew Clark, My preoccupation is writing good music, The Financial Times (London, England) 29 March 2004, p. 17. 31Curiously, Higdons first composition was serialistic while her current harmonic idiom contrasts considerably and is frequently labeled neo-romantic. 32 Michael Anthony, Composing an ode to the oboe; Prolif ic composer Jennifer Higdon muses on writing her latest concerto, a premiere by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), 24 September 2005, Sunday, Metro Edition, p 2F. 33Phillips, op. cit., 5-7. 34Mark Kanny, Higdon brings energetic works to the city, Pittsburgh Tribune Review 30 October 2005, Arts and Entertainment Section, p. E-2.

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21 she continued composing but did not share her e fforts with anyone. Eventually, she comprised a portfolio of four to five com positions for graduate submissions35 and was accepted to several prestigious institutions including the Juilliard Sc hool, Curtis and the University of Michigan. Seeking counsel, she solicited Spanos advice. A Curtis graduate, Spano believed an Artist Diploma from Curtis would produce the best results and was so adamant that he locked her in his office until she agreed.36 Higdon encountered numerous obstacles on he r journey through graduate school. After receiving a Diploma from Curtis,37 she was rejected twice from the University of Pennsylvania but studied free of charge with Jay Reise. Re ise offered her encouragement and with her third attempt, she gained admission and complete d a Master of Arts Degree in composition.38 Higdons lack of early training created a significan t hurdle during her doctoral qualifying exams. She remarks, Since I grew up on rock and roll, I just dont know this stuff. Getting through the doctoral exams for me was a nigh tmare. I took them a lot.39 Her initial doctoral thesis was rejected40 and Higdon recalls, There were members of my doctoral committee who claimed that I was having too much success. I didnt fit the box of what they were expecting. (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 N ovember 2006) Her second effort, a string 35Phillips, op. cit., 5-7. 36Ibid. 37www.jenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]). 38Karen Rile, The Accidental genius, The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006]) available from http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0 705/feature01sidebar.html ; Internet. 39Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 40Karen Rile, The Accidental genius, The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006]) available from http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0 705/feature01sidebar.html ; Internet.

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22 quartet entitled Voices ,41 commissioned by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, 42 was successful which resulted in the Do ctor of Philosophy degree. Her principal composition instructor at the University of Pennsylvania was George Crumb43 whom she credits with teaching her to listen effectively. A personal connection between student and professor stemmed from thei r similar backgrounds in rural America (Crumb was reared in West Virginia).44 Similar to Crumb, Higdon finds gr eat inspiration in the beauty of nature. Higdons first orchestral work, Shine (1995),45 greatly furthered her career. The composition was the result of a grant for young composers by ASCAP to compose their first symphonic work; it was written specifically fo r conductor James De Preist and the Oregon Symphony.46 Higdon submitted Shine to the Philadelphia Orchestra as a representative example of her work. The result was the commissioning of Concerto for Orchestra the composition that propelled her to inte rnational fame. As a female composer, Higdon is often consul ted regarding the role of women in this historically male-dominated field. As the firs t American female composer featured at the Festival of Contemporar y Music at Tanglewood, MA,47 she has transcended the gender barrier. Scholars have been captivated recently by the pote ntial contrasts between womens music and 41Phillips, op. cit., 10. 42Karen Rile, The Accidental genius, The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006]) available from http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0 705/feature01sidebar.html ; Internet. 43www.jenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]). 44Wes Blomster, Jennifer Higdons New Piano Trio, MusicalAmerica.com July 18, 2003. 45 http://jenniferhigdon.com/orchestra.html (Accessed 12 [January 2007]). 46Richard Dyer, Composer has Emotional Reach, Direct Ap peal Jennifer Higdon Touche s Many with her Work, The Boston Globe 13 July 2003, Sec. Arts/Entertainment, p. N.4. 47www.jenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]).

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23 the rarely termed mens music. Higdon reje cts such differences and remarked, That was a topic when I was a student at the Universitybe cause all the musicologi sts there thought that way (that music reflected gender), and us composers would roll our eyes.48 It was a collective eye roll by all of the composition students to all of the musicology st udents. (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) Higdon denies any experience with gender discrimination and credits composers from the previous genera tion, specifically Joan Tower and Libby Larsen, with eradicating the gender barrier that has plagued composition.49 Audience members occasionally express surprise th at a female could be capable of writing that kind of music. Higdon interprets that kind of mu sic as energetic with a prevailing rhythmic component. 50 Womens role in music does remain a concern to Higdon. An open-minded individual, she encourages gender discussion and continues a curiosity ab out the perceptions of men and women. Understandably, her particular interest is in composition and performance.51 Although gender barriers have not affected Hi gdon, she encountered a negative experience relating to her sexuality. She contributed to a compact disc recordi ng of Lesbian American Composers52 that was marketed with a picture of two nude women embracing. Higdon was troubled because the photograph did not adequately illustrate the mu sical content. She states, It 48 Michael Anthony, Composing an ode to the oboe; Prolif ic composer Jennifer Higdon muses on writing her latest concerto, a premiere by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), 24 September 2005, Sunday, Metro Edition, p. 2F. 49Renate Brosch, Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon, Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from http://magazin.klassik.com/magazines/template.cfm?SEITE=1&START=1&AID=879 ); Internet. 50Ibid. 51Renate Brosch, Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon, Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from http://magazin.klassik.com/magazines/template.cfm?SEITE=1&START=1&AID=879 ); Internet. 52 The CD is titled Lesbian American Composers and was recorded by CRI with the manufacture number CD 780 CRI. Other composers featured on the album include Pauline Oliveros, Linda Montano and Madelyn Byrne.

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24 looks like its going to be relaxing and the music is anything but. The cover bothered all of us (composers)-we all registered strong objecti ons. But we didnt have the final say.53 Although the gender/queer discrimination ha s weakened considerably, the ma rketing of this recording of womens music as unsophisticated, backgr ound music to romantic evenings remains troublesome. For Higdon, and undoubtedly many others this is a gross misrepresentation of womens music. Many composers resist national stereotypes. Th e United States in particular has struggled with defining elements in music that may be cl assified as American. Higdon is uncertain of what comprises an American composition due to the various styles present within the country.54 She does not encourage such labels. Openly questioning labels such as American, female or lesbian reflects a significant element of third-wave feminism defined by the battle cry of dont la bel me. When asked, Higdon provided a surprising response, I've never heard of a third-wave feminist, and am not sure what this is. I know that I'm American, female and lesbian. But I don't actually know of any composers who think of themselves as anyt hing but a composer. The labels seem to be applied by lots of other people. Fortunately for me, there was never a time when my parents told me that I couldn't do something because I was a woman or a lesbian. The thought never even occurred to me and the first time someone br ought it up, it was a very foreign concept. (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., em ails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) (Higdon has been 53David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms=j enni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet. 54Renate Brosch, Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon, Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from http://magazin.klassik.com/magazines/template.cfm?SEITE=1&START=1&AID=879 ); Internet.

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25 with her lifetime companion, Cheryl Lawson, since high school). (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) Disregarding her gender, sexuality and national ity, mystical is an applicable description of many of her orchestr al works that is primarily achie ved through heterodox instrumentation such as the water gong, Chinese health reflex be lls and crystal glasses. Although not associated with any particular religion, Hi gdon describes herself as a spir itual person with a strong knowledge gleaned from examining numerous literary accounts on the subject.55 Higdon currently spends between four to six hours composing daily with the remaining time dedicated to the business asp ects of the profession. A member of the faculty at Curtis since 1994,56 her duties have consisted of instructing co urses in theory, counterpoint, solfege and serving as a private tutor. She recalls with fondness her 20th century music history/theory course required of all students that afforded her the oppo rtunity to become acquainted with each pupil. Once her composition career blossomed in 2002, sh e reduced her responsibi lities at Curtis. (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., ema ils 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) At the present time, she teaches only private composition lessons.57 Higdons teaching philosophy encourages students to follow their intuitions with no restri ctions on their musical language. Instead, she provides them (with) tools to write in the way they want and need to write.58 Her advice to her students to follow their intuition is an appr oach she employs in her own compositions. 55David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms=j enni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet. 56 Phillips, op. cit., 10. 57Doug Mason,Prelude in Tennessee: Grammy Winning Composer had her Musical Beginnings in Blount County, Knoxville News-Sentinel 18 September 2005, sec. E, p.1. 58Vivien Schweitzer, Christoph er Theofanidis and Jennifer Higdon: Two of a Kind, Gramophone, September 2003, p. A1.

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26 Audience appeal remains a significant aspe ct of Higdons compositional philosophy. As a composer, she believes accountability to her audi ence is justified. She states, I feel a responsibility to be ar ticulate in the music a nd not waste their time.59 She consciously avoids composing systematically and says, I write intu itively. The academic approach just doesnt work with my brain.60 As an avid listener to the Beatles in her youth, she relates with audiences from that generation. Higdon is conscious of mu sic such listeners are likely to enjoy. She remarks on the similarities to the music of her childhood and her own compositions, What do thetypes of music have in common? Mel ody, Rhythm, Harmony. What they don't have in common...there isn't an exclusivity between either genre, but usually mu sical events (and the speed in which they unfold) run at different speed s. In terms of writing for a broader audience...I don't think I have more understanding than a ny other composer. Music is communication. Otherwise, I don't see the point. (Jenni fer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) Higdon remains one of the few self-supporting composers through dire ct commissions and possesses a keen business sense. As a youth, her father encouraged her to always question authority and instilled an enterpri sing spirit to publish her work.61 This was further encouraged by American composer Philip Glass who advised he r to maintain copyright privileges to enable 59Mark Kanny, Higdon brings energetic works to the city, Pittsburgh Tribune Review 30 October 2005, Arts and Entertainment Section, p. E-2. 60Ibid. 61David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms=j enni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet.

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27 rapid processing that is less expe nsive to perspect ive performers.62 The result is Lawdon Press, Higdons personal publishing company. The name or iginates from the amalgamation of Cheryl Lawson and the composer. Lawson, a former even t planner for medical associations, left her career to manage the pub lishing company in 2005.63 Since Higdons beginnings in composition, she has received commissions from the most prestigious ensembles and performers to grace the symphony halls and concert stages, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Sy mphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Amer ican Composers Orches tra, the Tokyo String Quartet and the American Guild of Organi sts. A commission by the National Symphony Orchestra for a Piano Concerto to be premiered May 17-19 2007 was temporarily delayed,64 but a violin concerto from the I ndianapolis Symphony with Hilary Hahn is scheduled for the 200809 season.65 In addition, Higdon has received nume rous awards and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, two from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, as well as those from Meet-the-Composer, National Endowment for the Arts, International League of Women Composer s, Louisville Orchestra New Music Search, ASCAP, the Mary Flagler Charitable Trus t Grant and the Pennsyl vania Council on Arts.66 62Renate Brosch, Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon, Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from http://magazin.klassik.com/magazines/template.cfm?SEITE=1&START=1&AID=879 ); Internet. 63Doug Mason,Prelude in Tennessee: Grammy Winning Composer had her Musical Beginnings in Blount County, Knoxville News-Sentinel 18 September 2005, sec. E, p.1. 64 www.jenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]). The premiere was postponed due to artistic differences between the composer and the originally scheduled pianist, Lang Lang. Higdon is searching for a different pianist for an upcoming, but as of yet, unscheduled, premiere. 65Karen Rile, The Accidental genius, The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006]) available from http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0 705/feature01sidebar.html ; Internet. 66Karen Rile, The Accidental genius, The Pennsylvania Gazette, July/August 2005 (Accessed [4 June 2006]) available from http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0 705/feature01sidebar.html ; Internet.

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28 Higdons music enjoys international success wi th performances numbering more than a hundred per year. blue cathedral a one-movement symphonic poem, received more than fifty performances in the United States in the 2004-05 season, and remains the most performed contemporary symphonic work in the United States. The composition was recorded on the Telarc label in 2003 with the Atlanta Symphony led by Spano. Sin ce its release, the recording has garnered a prominent place on the Classical Billboard Charts. A more recent endeavor, Higdon: Concerto for Orchestra/City Scape was nominated for four Grammy Awards67 winning in the category of Best Engineered Album, Classical. Recordings of her music by various pe rformers exist on several labels. Postcards from the Center featuring the Moran Quartet, recorded Autumn Music for Crystal Records (CD754), Autumn Reflection performed by Jeffrey Khaner appears in American Flute Music Avie-AVI 0004.68 Compositional Method Higdons self-described method of composition is frequently defined as intuitive; however, additional commentary is necessary to further expl ain this meaning. In the subsequent chapters, the term intuitive is used regularly by the co mposer to justify specific musical occurrences. The precise definition of this term is the power or faculty of attaini ng to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rati onal thought and inference.69 Although Higdons childhood included little western art musi c, throughout years of study, she ha s gained a solid education of classical music. Yet to infer that her musi c emerges without rati onal thought would be 67www.jenniferhigdon.com/biography.html (Accessed [10 April 2006]). 68 http://jenniferhigdon.com/rec-title.html (Accessed [4 June 2006]). 69 Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, intuition, (Accessed [16 June 20067]),

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29 misleading since she spends much time in t hought before she composes. Whether or not intuitive is the grammatically correct term for he r process, it is the word she uses to describe her approach. Higdon is capable of composition at a rapid speed that suggests musical ideas are occurring almost immediately. She states, Il l spend more hours (writing) than an average composer but because its happening at a faster and a shorter time frame, it means a lot of these things have to happen instinctively. I dont come up with systems; I think things are happening at a subconscious level.70 While reviewing the results of th is document, her response was often genuine surprise followed by acceptance. The com poser attributed many of these findings to her intuitive approach and she believes such events accurately illustra te her subconscious at work. She remarked, I think actually what happens is (when) I start working on a piece, Ill do a lot of sketching, my brain will put these elements toge ther and I dont know theyre there. I dont realize it even, it just comes out.71 Higdon begins a work with the first forthcoming melodic idea72which scarcely occurs in the opening measures. In the multi-movement works, the interior movements were composed initially while in blue cathedral the process originated with the soli in the central sections. Her latest work, a Piano Concerto conformed to a similar proces s; Higdon composed the second and third movements first. According to the composer anxiety is the underlyi ng principle for writing the opening movement last. She places much emphasis on the significance of an initial 70Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 71Ibid. 72Ibid.

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30 movement. Higdon remains somewhat nervous th at the first movement, if not composed correctly, may spoil the remainder of the work.73 She composes consistently each day, but the speed in which she produces music varies depending on the time allocated by the commission. Concerto for Orchestra was written over several years while in contra st, the first movement of City Scape emerged in only five days. In the latter, the ideas were appearing so quickly and fully formed that she notated the music in short score (6 lines rather than th e full 30) and later orchestrated it.74 This exceedingly rapid pace of composition is more often the excep tion rather than the rule with Higdon. Her recent fame affords her the luxury of composing only by commission. While contemplating the works, she considers the st rengths and capabilities of the premiering ensembles. For the three compositions included in this document, Higdon was especially intimate with the premiering orchestras; thus, sh e wrote with the specific ensembles in mind. Aesthetic aims vary considerably for each composition. Although blue cathedral and Concerto for Orchestra were both commissioned as celebrations, the expressive objectives were quite different. blue cathedral is the sole orchestral work in which the composer used imagery or representation. The music is not explic itly programmatic but during the compositional process, Higdon utilized imagery for the differing sections. Program notes and previous research reveals a fairly detailed programmatic content, yet she states that the only explicit referential aspects of the music are limited to the woodw ind soli that portray the composer and her brother.75 These features are explored in greater detail in Chapter Three. 73Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 74Pierre Ruhe, Symphony illuminates soul of city, Atlanta Journal-Constitution 10 November 2002, Sec. ARTS, p. 1M. 75Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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31 Concerto for Orchestra was composed specifically for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Higdons past and current ties to the city are strong; she resides ther e currently, attended graduate school in Philadelphia and is a member of the Curtis faculty. As such, she is familiar with many of the individual musicians in the ense mble. Several features of the work resulted from these personal ties including specific instru mental soli and the orches tration of the fourth movement exclusively for percussion. The wo rk celebrates the Philadelphia Orchestra and serves as virtuosic vehicle for the ensemble. The plain title of the work, according to Higdon, emerged because the music was composed specifi cally for that orchestra and no other label seemed fitting.76 The name may appear somewhat unus ual since she often opts for poetic and descriptive titles. Her solo concerti, however, utilize si milar labels (for example Oboe Concerto, Percussion Concerto, Piano Concerto and Trombone Concerto ). As a concerto, this title adheres to the trend present in her wo rks of a similar genre. The primary objective of City Scape is to serve as a musical tribute to Atlanta, where Higdon spent her early childhood years. Higdon portrays the diversity and splendor found within the city. In doing so, she concentrates mostly on the features of Atlanta that she remembers from her youth thus providing the work with a personal element. One of the most remarkable aspects of Higdon s fame is her previously limited exposure to western art music. Although this may have be en problematic during he r schooling, it has not influenced her career. Because of her self-adm itted lack of experience with the standard canon, quotations and references to other composers and their music is nonexistent. A lack of formal training until her collegiate years has resulted in a complete avoidance of systems during the 76Renate Brosch, Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon, Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from http://magazin.klassik.com/magazines/template.cfm?SEITE=1&START=1&AID=879 ); Internet.

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32 compositional process; indeed, nearly all of he r works emerge from an exploration of sound. She remarks, I had too many systems taught to me at school and I couldnt stand it.77 The joy of sound78 is frequently her rationale for compositional curiosities in her music. Higdon does not compose with key centers in mind. When a tonality emerges, she explains it as a manifest ation of her subconscious.79 Particularly notewor thy is the continuous appearance of D major in the three orchestral works examined. Higdon did not consciously choose that tonality but after reviewing the numerous examples, she realized it does occur frequently but, again, she emphasized that it was not a conscious decision.80 In the past, this particular key has been associated with rejo icing and triumph or in the case of Brahms Second Symphony sunny. This author suggests that passa ges in D major in Higdons music reflect her warm and friendly personality, a quality often remarked on by those whom have come in contact with her. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of her in tuitive style is the subtle, yet consistent, appearance of unifying devices. Higdon continually stated that such occurrences were not intentional and in several examples, she was not aware of these musical connections. Yet, separate rhythmic and melodic motives permeate individual movements. That such connections were not purposely included leads one to pr esume that Higdons subconscious is truly responsible. An isolated example of her in tuitive style affecting formal structure is present in the Concerto for Orchestra an arch form that peaks in the third movement. Higdon did not 77Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 78Ibid. 79Ibid. 80Ibid.

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33 conceptualize the work as such; in fact, only four movements we re initially planned.81 The second and fourth movements are scored exclusiv ely for strings and percussion respectively. A connection in reduced instrumenta tion between these movements is evident and provides an even stronger link to the arch form that emerged s ubconsciously. One may c onjecture that this is simply a coincidence since the composer did not intentionally plan the movements to serve as complements to one another. Yet because Hi gdon attributes unifying rhythmic and melodic factors to her intuitive style, it seems likely that formal structure would also materialize in this manner. In addition to this self-defined aspect of her compositional method, stylistic elements are present in each work. Because such charac teristics appear consistently in all three compositions, a brief discussion devoted to her trai ts may prove helpful to the reader before a comprehensive analysis can be grasped fully. Stylistic Traits Harmony Higdon does not utilize functional harmony, but she incorporates aspects of the Common Practice Period to create her own harmonic idiom. The most prominent feature of her musical language is the consistent use of perfect fifths that, according to the composer, evolved from the employment of major chords in her earlier works. Removing the third emerged from a desire to explore the possibilities within these sounds. blue cathedral was the first composition to consistently use perfect fifth intervals,82 a characteristic that appears frequently in her subsequent orchestral works. Higdons parallel fifths generally appear as accompanimental material orchestrated for the lower strings or horns th at present sustained harmonies or a progression 81Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 82Ibid.

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34 moving in stepwise motion. Perfect fourths, an inversion of fifths, occur less prominently, yet several sections are comprised of these quartal harmonies. Passages utilizing such harmonies are fleeting but without question, ar e directly related to Higdons use of the perfect fifth. As Higdon remarked, the employment of the pe rfect fifth interval stems from her earlier use of major chords, which maintain a significant role in her harmonic language. Like the fifths, the sonorities may be static or move in stepwi se motion. When utiliz ing sustained harmonies, the chords appear frequently in root position. To orchestrat e these sections, Higdon divides a single instrumental group into three lines, supplyi ng each with a note of the chord. This scoring occurs in the lower strings with particular empha sis on the violas. Due to a lack of traditional harmony, this researcher is hesitant to use the term harmonic rhythm, but the rate of chord changes in these passages is frequently quite slow. Higdon occasionally varies the major chords through modal mixture that provide an emotionally ambiguous sound.83 She finds this process fasci nating and has begun to explore it only recently in the past several years.84 A recent discovery by this composer, it is likely that her subsequent works will explore this avenue further. Major chords do not only serve as accompanimental material in Higdons music. Numerous examples abound with melodic scoring for three trumpets utilizing these sonorities that provide a stark difference in timbre from the warm lower strings accompanimental sustained harmonies. When the composer employs these chords for melodic purposes, the speed of the progression is greatly increased. 83Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006 84Ibid.

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35 Higdons earliest compositions explore juxta position of major chords. This feature continues to appear in the mature works to produce brief bitonal passages. These chords, separated by a major second, create tension that counters the consonant se ctions built on perfect fifths. Although Higdons harmonic idiom places great emphasis on fifths and major chords, major and minor seconds comprise an integral aspect of her musica l language as well. Ostinato patterns frequently alternate rapi dly between these intervals to produce dissonance. Similar to the bitonal sections, this tension is released upon the return to harmonic material derived from fifths. While the composer does not utilize traditi onal chord progressions, her harmonic language stems from the Common Practi ce Period. Dominant to tonic progressions, although quite rare, do appear and provide a sense of familiarity to audiences. Glimpses of this tradition possibly offer connections to listeners acquainted with th e standard orchestral re pertoire. As Higdon has stated numerous times, communication to her au diences remains a primary objective in her music and such links to the past are a likely reason her music remains popular. Melody Higdon consistently incorporates several melodic devices that may be labeled compositional traits. Most prev alent is the abundant lyrical soli for various instruments that display colorful orchestr ation. In these passages, less standard instruments, such as the English horn and the bass clarinet, are fe atured. While several examples present expansive, lyrical melodies, other soli are greatly tr uncated and are, in fact, quite short. Regardless of length, many of the solo sections present motivic material that is feat ured subsequently throughout the

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36 remainder of the composition. This melodic recall of motives is an essentia l tool to unifying the works. The composers melodies generally encompass a small range and, at times, are limited to a perfect fifth. Instrumental lines utilizing a broader range incorporate leaps using this same interval. Ascending lines are accompanied frequently by a gradual crescendo that culminates in a fortissimo dynamic marking. The result is a building of tension as the music rises in pitch and volume that is subsequently relaxed by the melodic descents and decrescendi that consistently follow. Because Higdons melodies are generally comprised of consonant intervals, tension and release is achieved through the ri sing and falling pitches and dynamics. Often, only one theme is featured at a time and is clearly audibl e above the entire ensemble. Isolated exceptions display a counter melody, but these secondary lines never interfere with the principal melody. Rhythm Higdon places significant emphasis on rhythmic motives that frequently function as a unifying device. Their appearances are subtle an d not always audible in full ensemble passages; indeed, few music critics have commented on th eir existence. Although the patterns appear consistently in the same instrumentation, their re turn may be truncated or otherwise manipulated. Consistent repetition and rapid overlapping of these motives crea te intensity in the music and complexity in the texture. It is important to note that these motives may be imbedded within the melodic line to permeate the theme with a vibrant rhythmic aspect. Less common are syncopations and accents. Syncopations may occur in accompanimental material to provide an understated urgency be neath the dominant melody. In contrast, accents

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37 are habitually presented in the melodic line du ring returning passages to supply variety in rhythm. In full ensemble passages, rushing sixt eenth notes, combined with a gradual crescendo create a powerful intensity that culminates in a fortissimo dynamic marking. The tension is subsequently released through a decrescendo and substantially slower note values. On the other side of the coin, a strong rhythmic drive is absent throughout the chamber-like sections that results in a sensation of improvisation. Meter changes are a rarity in Higdons music. When present, how ever, they represent significant musical passages that feature a section of the orchestra. C onsistently alternating meters create an extended period of metrical flux that contributes to a sens e of unpredictability. Texture Varying the musical texture to create dive rsity in the sound is a method employed by many composers. Higdon utilizes this technique as well. Her polyphonic passa ges often exhibit fugal qualities with overlapping layers of imitation ente ring at rapid intervals. These sections are frequently paired with a crescendo to generate musica l intensity. During the loudest dynamic marking, Higdon exchanges the texture to homophony th at releases this tension. An essential aspect of her texture is the basso ostinati that function as unifying devices. This compositional tool is used primarily in polyphonic passages and may become a catal yst for imitation. Prominent solo passages are accompanied by a sparse texture. As the solo nears its conclusion, Higdon gradually increases the instrument ation. The result is a steady amplification of volume that enhances anticipat ion. In the opposite manner, following full ensemble passages, the texture and dynamics decrease to release the tension.

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38 The composer has invented a phrase to define a phenomenon present in blue cathedral Counterpoint of textures refers to two inde pendent musical lines progressing at different speeds.85 Although not present in her immediately s ubsequent works, it is possible that the technique will resurface in later compositions. Orchestration An appealing factor of Higdons music lies in her colorful orchestra tion. The three works included in this research contain similar instrumentation that resembles a late nineteenth-century ensemble with the exception of the greatly expanded percussion. She provides not only significant rhythmic material for this section, but also melodic th emes, a fairly novel idea with roots in the early tw entieth-century. Higdon notates solo lines for a vast array of in strumental timbres. In several examples, melodic lines are doubled by instruments with contra sting colors, such as piccolo and trumpet or oboe and trombones. Ensemble passages also utilize expansive doublings to balance the diminutive chamber-like sound present during instru mental soli. Melodic material performed by a solitary instrument utilizes less orthodox instruments. In doing so, Higdon contributes significantly to the melodic possibilities of these instruments while simultaneously experimenting with the joy of sound. One particularly noteworthy aspect of Higdon s orchestration is presented in the unusual scoring of string soli. Rather th an notating a violin solo for the concertmaster, she provides parts for the assistant concertmaster or the first de sk of a section. Higdon believes that second violinists are equally talented86 and subsequently, she has di stributed solo violin lines 85Brenda Rossow Phillips, Jennifer Higdon: A stylistic anal ysis of selected flute and orchestral works, (DMA doc., Arizona State University, 2005), 72. 86Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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39 accordingly. The result is a string sound that em erges out of the depths of the ensemble. In City Scape the composer expands this technique furthe r to include only half of a section. These unique orchestrations are essential to her sound. It is possible th at this heterodox scoring endears the composer to those musicians who norma lly do not receive such opportunities. The string instrumentation in the accompanying ma terial is likewise significant. The major chords that comprise Higdons harmonies are di vided among the lower strings (viola and celli particularly) with each section sustaining a pi tch of the triad. This lush and warm sound permeates each of the orchestral works and main tains a prominent position within a discussion of her compositional style. Higdon would never be described as an avantgarde composer, but experimental qualities are present in her orches tration. Prepared piano, water gong, Chinese health reflex bells and water glasses are employed subtly to evoke ethere al atmospheres. This heterodox orchestration is included only to create a specific mood. Previous musical material is frequently recalled and although the returning passage is instantly recognizable, the orchestr al color is varied to simulta neously create repetition and contrast. The composers penchant for changing the symphonic timbre remains one of her most intriguing qualities. The subsequent instrumenta tion utilized is neither predictable nor pedantic. Forms Higdon rarely adheres to strict formal stru ctures; her works are best described as sectional. Accelerandi and ritardandi frequently introduce a new section that results in a contrasting tempo and mood. She generally avoids specific musical marki ngs or directions to indicate distinctive qualities of the subsequent passage. An alte rnate tempo does not necessarily

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40 indicate separate musical content, of course, but with this compos er, this is often the case. Upon the commencement of a new section, the text ure, dynamics and mood vary substantially. Codas play a significant role within each composition. In blue cathedral Higdon concludes the work with essentia l numerical references to hersel f and her brother that provide a deeply personal aspect. In doing so, this endi ng contains great meaning rather than functioning solely as a cadential extension. The multi-movement works adhere to va rious structures and forms. The Concerto for Orchestra is in five movements that utilizes an ar ch form. The second and fourth movements are scored exclusively for strings and percussion respectively. Curiously, the fourth movement begins with the percussionists playing their in struments with a bow, a musical aspect commonly associated with strings. Higdon did not intentio nally compose these movements to balance the form and later, she suggested her subconscious was responsible.87 The opening and third movement are scored fo r the entire ensemble (as is the finale discussed below). These two movements are se ctional and separated by passages between the full orchestra and those featuring in dividual soli or sections of the orchestra. The first movement contains characteristics similar to sonata alle gro form yet does not adhere strictly to the definition of that term; therefore, it is best described as sectional. In the liner notes to the recording, Nick Jones describes the second movement as a scherzo.88 A detailed commentary in Chapter Four examines this statement, but without question, the final result is a te rnary structure. Although Higdon di d not originally conceive the movement as a scherzo, she purposely included a contrasting central section that adheres to 87Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 88Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620.

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41 ternary form. The second movement provides the singular example in Concerto for Orchestra of a traditional structure inherited from the Viennese Classicists. The finale, performed attacca functions as a coda to the entire work. Previous musical material is recalled throughout this movement to bring the composition full circle. Codas in Higdons works are extremel y significant and in the Concerto for Orchestra the final movement provides a summation of all the essential musical content presen ted in the preceding movements. The final movement of City Scape also adheres to a traditional form; however, the decision was dictated by the commissioning ensemble. Th e Atlanta Symphony Orchestra stipulated that the third movement, Peachtree Street serve as an example of form for school children. Higdon opted for a rondo, yet she strays somewhat fr om formal parameters. Upon subsequent presentations of the primary theme, she does not state it identically to the original. Only the finale of City Scape contained such a specification. Fo r the opening two movements, the composer employed sectionalized forms. Higdons melodic recall is reali zed through the return of large sections of the movement. By incorporating new material with the melodi c return, she provides repetition and contrast simultaneously. This abundant employment of me lodic recall remains a pivotal element of her formal structure. Program vs. Absolute Music Titles for blue cathedral and City Scape suggest a programmatic element that may be misleading. Neither of the works contains an explicit storyline. During the composition of blue cathedral Higdon used images that facilitated the wr iting, but initially, pe rformances of the work did not necessarily include programmatic explanation in the notes. After these images became public knowledge, the pictorial content wa s consistently shared with the audience.

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42 Previous research has attempted to locate these events in the music, but the composer has not divulged this information; therefore, such design ations remain only specula tive. Listening to the work in conjunction with this now well-known imagery, one can easily make assumptions about the whereabouts of these episodes in the score. Yet, without definitive authority from the composer, the task remains an exercise in imagination. Higdon believes the music speaks for itself and with or without the program, audi ences react similarly. She maintains that representation in the music is limite d strictly to the clarinet and fl ute soli to depict her brother and herself. 89 City Scape portrays no explicitly programmatic content despite the colorful titles of all three movements. The work is simply Higdons musical portrait of Atla nta and exhibits her feelings about the city. The expressive objects of the individual movements are explored in greater detail in Chapter Five. Concerto for Orchestra is purely absolute music. Commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the work contains solo passages com posed for specific members of the ensemble. While composing, Higdon imagined the musicians faces.90 Since its premiere, the work has gained additional exposure and while audience s may have no knowledge about the premiering instrumentalists, these aspects were integral to the works conception. Unifying Devices Motivic material, introduced previously in a work, r eappears throughout the various sections to unify the music. In blue cathedral the perfect fifths in the accompaniment provide a 89Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 90Ibid.

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43 basis for changes in orch estral color and mood. Concerto for Orchestra and City Scape employ melodic and rhythmic motives in the individual movements to strengthen the compositions as one complete work. These patter ns are originally presented as ostinati but are later expanded and manipulated in each movement. Several of these examples were unknown to the composer and Higdon was surprised by the research. She belie ves these occurrences are realizations of her intuitive compositional method.91 Specific motives are discussed in greater length in Chapters Four and Five. Conclusion Higdons lack of early music training is untra ditional for a composer who has reached her level of fame. This author believes that he r unique style stems fr om this more common upbringing. In this document, the reader will notice that direct quotations by Higdon are filled with idiomatic expressions and simplified langua ge. The ease and comfort she maintains with the public is transmitted in her music and has likely contributed to her popularity amongst listeners and audiences. Alt hough a genuine person, she should not be mistaken as simple nor should her compositions. This author firmly beli eves that Higdon contributes significantly to the symphonic canon of American composers. 91Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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44 CHAPTER 3 BLUE CATHEDRAL Jennifer Higdons one movement orchestral tone poem, blue cathedral was the composition that launched her in to recent orchestral fame. According to the American Symphony Orchestra League, blue cathedral is performed more frequently than any other contemporary symphonic work in the United States.92 Commissioned for the Curtis Institute of Musics 75th Anniversary, the composition was premiered under conductor Robert Spano with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Ph iladelphia, Pennsylvania on May 1, 2000.93 In only a few years, 54 ensembles have performed the work; 43 of these performances were presented by professional orchestras.94 Originally commissioned as a celebration by Curtis, because of significant events in Higdons life, the composition quickly became much more personal. The composers only sibling, a younger brother, Andrew Blue Higdon, died of a virulent fo rm of cancer at the age of 3395 in June, 1998. He died very fast, said Hi gdon. We called my mother and said he may die in the next hour.96 The score is dedicated in l oving memory of Andrew Blue Higdon.97 92Bob Keyes, New Year, new magic from PSO; The first Tu esday Classical series of 2005 features a guest baton and an ethereal piece by an acclaimed female composer, Portland Press Herald (Maine), 30 January 2005, sec. AUDIENCE, p. E1. 93Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999). 94Andrew Druckenbrod, Composer Making Musical History, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2 November 2005, p. E-1. 95Doug Mason,Prelude in Tennessee: Grammy Winning Composer had her Musical Beginnings in Blount County, Knoxville News-Sentinel 18 September 2005, sec. E, p.1. 96Andrew Druckenbrod, Higdon Poured Grief into blue cathedral, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2 November 2005, p. E-2. 97Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999).

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45 The descriptive title derives from two differe nt sources. Blue was the middle name of her brother and also refers to the color of the sky while cathedral, according to Higdon, is representative to many people of birth, death, marriage, knowledge and learning. In the liner notes to the compact disc recording of th e composition, Higdon write s, Bluelike the sky, where all possibilities soar. Blue represents all potential and the progression of journeys.98 Regarding the use of the term cathedral, Hi gdon continues, Cathedralsa place of thought, growth, spiritual expression, serving as a sym bolic doorway into and out of this world. Cathedrals represent a place of beginnings, endings, solitude, fellowship, contemplation, knowledge, and growth.99 The composition in its entirety represents to Higdon, a story that commemorates living and passing through places of knowledge and of sharing and of that song called life.100 The etymology of the term cathedral derive s from the Latin chair (Latin: cathedra)101 and is associated with the Catholic faith. Higdon perceives the term more generally and she subscribes to no specific religion. Because the composer experienced a myriad of faiths throughout her youth, it appears to be simply coinci dental. When questioned about these musical occurrences, the composer states, I dont re ally know enough about Catholicism and then reflecting on her adolescent years in Tennessee, she continues, Theres no Catholics in Tennessee. Its all Southern Baptists. Theyre true Southern Baptists and Primitive Baptists in Tennessee. No Catholicism theremy parents were a little freaked out by the BaptistsI still 98Jennifer Higdon, Rainbow Body Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc CD 80596. 99Ibid. 100Ibid. 101Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, cathedr a, (Accessed [20 June 2006]),

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46 am after all these years.102 Higdon recalls during the compositional process, however, that because the work was commissioned by Curtis, an institution of learning, the word cathedral seemed fitting. Regarding the process of naming the work, the composer states, I didnt want to say blue Curtis that makes no sense, but cathedralthe idea of the fact that so many things happen in a lifetime. So cathedral was just a ge neral picture. I was originally going to call it blue but one of my friends said, Thats not very inte resting. I dont know where cathedral came from though sometimes words will come in my mi nd when Im writing and Ill write them on the margins of my sketches and then Ill go back and something looks like its supposed to be the title.103 Andrew lived on Cathedral Street while livi ng in Baltimore. Higdon initially did not connect the street name to the title of the composition; only later, did a person who knew her brother recognize the coincidence. She stat es, This shows how I work on a subconscious levelthere are connections there that are interlaced that are subconscious.104 Throughout this work, Higdon did not consciously achieve many of th e end results that appear to be more than links to the past. She regards these findings as valid and believes that many of these elements were instinctual during the compositional process.105 The intentional small case letters in the title signifies, according to the composer, that she desired the work to be about human ity rather than the music. Sh e believes that the audience need not be aware of the facts surr ounding Andrew Higdon to appreciate a performance; the work can 102Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 103Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 104Ibid. 105Ibid.

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47 be understood upon an initial hearing.106 In many publications referencing blue cathedral capital letters are used in the title. According to Higdon, e ither is acceptable,107 but in the score, the letters are purposely set in lower case, as is the composers name. She states, Im too bashful to put my name in caps if Im not putting the title (in capital letters).108 Understandably, Higdon struggled emotionally while simultaneously grieving and composing. She states, I cried as I wrote the last two-thirds of the piece. I couldnt sleep, and I worried that I might have written something incohe rent. It wasnt until the first rehearsal that I realized that I had a piece. Wr iting it was a cathartic and therapeu tic experience. I thought about my brother but also about my students. What makes a life? I lost my brotherwhat can you take from an experience like that?109 Because of the situation surrounding its composition, this work contains a highly personal element. The orchestration for the work is similar to that of a large Romantic ensemble with a few significant exceptions. The woodwi nds consist of 2 flutes (the second doubling piccolo), one oboe, one English horn in F, 2 clarinets in Bb an d 2 bassoons. The brass section includes 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in C, 2 tenor trombones, 1 ba ss trombone and 1 tuba. The strings are divided into the standard five sections of the orchestra (2 violin s ections, viola, violincello and contrabass; later the strings are subdivided into separate parts). A harp and piano/celesta part completes the non-percussive in struments of the orchestra.110 The percussionists are comprised 106Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Composers Corner, Updated 30 October 2005 (Accessed [13 May 2006]) < http://www.pittsburghsymphony.blogs.com/composers/2005/10/blue_cathedral_ .html#more> 107Brenda Rossow Phillips, Jennifer Higdon: A stylistic anal ysis of selected flute and orchestral works, (DMA doc., Arizona State University, 2005), 1. 108Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 109Richard Dyer, Composer has Emotional Reach, Direct Ap peal Jennifer Higdon Touche s Many with her Work, The Boston Globe 13 July 2003, Sec. Arts/Entertainment, p. N.4 110Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999).

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48 of three musicians and a timpanist. The third pe rcussionist plays the crotales, marimba and the tam-tam while the second percussionist is sta tioned at the vibraphone, glockenspiel, bell tree, sizzle cymbal and suspended cymbal. The final pe rcussionist utilizes the chimes, small triangle, large triangle, bass drum, large tom-tom and the tam-tam.111 In addition, crystal glasses and Chinese health bells are added to complement the traditional instruments. The following notes are included for the proper performance of the eight crystal glasses used at the end of the work. The horns, trombone s, and tuba are required to play crystal glasses towards the end of the piece. The glasses should be tuned by adding water. The player runs a wet finger around the edge of the gl ass, producing a tone. To facili tate the playing of the glass, the player might want to tape the glass to a stand next to him/her. Fine lead crystal produces the best sound.112 Chinese health bells, sometimes referred to as Chinese health reflex bells, are performed by a large portion of the players at the end of the composition (simultaneously with the crystal glass sounds produced by members of the wind sect ions). Chinese health bells are golf-ball sized chrome spheres twirled in the palms of the hands and produ ce a bright bell-like sound. The instructions for performance of the Chinese health reflex bells listed in the score reads, The players need only pick up the bells and begin to shake where notated. Approximately 60 bells are required for an appropriate sound.113 If needed, the Chinese h ealth reflex bells can be acquired directly through the composer.114 111Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999). 112Ibid. 113Ibid. 114Ibid.

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49 Two different versions exist on the origins of th e Chinese health reflex bells. According to Andrew Druckenbrod from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Higdon stated, I was looking for a sound I couldnt replicate in the orchestrasomeone had given me a box of them. I bumped into them at home and said, Thats it!115 In Brenda Rossow Phillips dissertation, however, Higdon stated, The cat was play ing on the table and bumped the box (with the bells)I loved the sound and wondered how I could use it. I ended up going to Chinatown to buy 60 boxes, and now I ship them off to orchestras that are performing the piece.116 When asked for clarification on precisely the discovery of this sound, the compos er states, Was it one of my cats? There was a box of bells on my nightstand and either I hit the stand orI was playing with th e cat, and the cat hit the stand. I cant rememb er if it was me or the cat.117 Regardless of whom or what bumped the box, the unearthing of this in strument was clearly accidental. The piano is altered from its previous timbre through the app lication of two screws during the final bars. The concept of prepared pi ano was made famous primarily through the experimentation of American composer, John Cage (1912-1992). The exact preparations of the piano are specifically designated by the composer in the performance notes which state, The pianist is required, between meas. 130-147, to pla ce 2 screws within the strings of the piano. Place 1 screw between 2 of the strings of the D above the treble staff and 1 screw between 2 of the strings of the A above that D. The screws should be approximately 1-2 from the hammer. The screws need to be just wide enough to chan ge the timbre and pitch of those notes. Some experimentation in placement may be necessary to achieve the best results. The resulting sound 115 Andrew Druckenbrod, Composer Making Music History, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2 November 2005, Sooner Edition, Concert Preview, p. E1. 116Phillips, op. cit., 74. 117Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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50 should be that of a clock, chiming in the distance. (Specific pitches can be marked with chalk in advance to facilitate locating).118 With her relaxed sense of humor, Higdon warned audience members that preparing a piano i s NOT SOMETHING TO TRY AT HOME.119 Fairly detailed imagery was applied duri ng the compositional process that outlines Higdons grieving process. In the liner notes of Rainbow Body Higdon writes that while she was composing, she imagined a journey through a glass cathedral in the sky. Because the walls would be transparent, I saw the image of clouds and blueness permeating from the outside of this church. In my minds eye the listener would en ter from the back of the sanctuary, floating along the corridor amongst giant crystal pillars, moving in a contemplative stance. The stained glass windows figures would start moving with song, singing a heavenly music. The listener would float down the aisle, slowly moving upward at firs t and then progressing at a quicker pace, rising towards an immense ceiling which would open to th e sky. As this journey progressed, the speed of the traveler would increase, rushing forward a nd upward. I wanted to cr eate the sensation of contemplation and quiet peace at the beginning, moving towards the feeling of celebration and ecstatic expansion of the soul all the while singing along with that heavenly music.120 Higdon has not included in her description precisely where these events occur in the music. Originally, the composer did not intend to sh are the program with the audience since she believed the story was unnecessary to understand the music. The work has been performed without the storyline provided and Higdon remark s that audience reaction is similar. She receives letters following performances that de scribe the works strength in communicating and 118Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999). 119Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Composers Corner, Updated 30 October 2005 (Accessed [13 May 2006]) < http://www.pittsburghsymphony.blogs.com /composers/2005/10/blue_cathedral_ .html#more> 120Jennifer Higdon, Rainbow Body Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc CD 80596.

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51 audience members have asked if she had lost someone close to her. Higdon believes blue cathedral will speak without any kind of programmatic121 explanation. She debated whether or not to include the program in the liner notes to Rainbow Body She voiced her concern to Robert Spano, the conductor of the Atlanta Sy mphony Orchestra, who recorded the composition. Apprehensive about possibly playing on the a udiences emotions, Spano told Higdon, People can decide for themselves.122 The composer recognized that once a reporter published the programmatic material, it would become known to the public and n early impossible to omit from that point. As author of the liner notes, she declares those words to be the definitive source regarding the issue.123 Years after the death of A ndrew, Higdon finds the composition adequately serves as a memorial in any circumstances. Following the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, she realized the work functions as a universal homage to people who have died in various circumstances. I hadnt realized how appropriate this piece wasit had been three years since Andy passed away but it really fit the September 11t h ordeal. It was eerie how muchit felt like a memorial sort of piece. Not in a bad way.124 The composer views the work as versatile and open to interpretation. A specific musical association, however, occu rs with the flute and clarinet. These instruments are utilized as ch aracters portraying the composer and her late brother. An accomplished flutist, she is represented by the flute while Andrew is depicted by the clarinet, his former instrument. 121Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 122 Ibid. 123 Ibid. 124 Phillips, op. cit., 92.

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52 The composition initially was inspired by Andrew, Higdons grieving process and the questioning of lifes purpose. Wh ile writing, the composer reflected on the meaning of life. In the liner notes, she states that she asked hers elf the question of what makes a life and the experience allowed her to reflect on amazing journeys that we a ll make in our lives, crossing paths with so many individuals singularly and co llectively, learning and gr owing each step of the way.125 Singular individuals are represented musically throughout the composition through various instrumental soli; yet un like the flute and clarinet, no dire ct portrayals of specific people are depicted. These distinct soli were composed to demons trate the virtuosity and musicianship of the Curtis Orchestra. In measure 24, an extended solo is written for violin that is quite prominent in contrast to the other strings which have been playing con sordino The solo violin ascends gradually and in step-wise motion. When aske d about the significance of this part, Higdon states, Ive often pondered that. It felt necessary there. Sometimes I wonder, is it God? Is it fate in the universe? Or is it just representative of something innocent? I dont actually know. It makes sense musically but I have no idea what it is. It felt to me like there needed to be a shift in the sound, an additional voice in the dialogue. It feels right when it comes in but I wonder every time I hear it.126 Underneath the violin solo, the cell i and basses are playing open fifths, an interval that is featured c onsistently throughout the work. Composing a solo violin passage within a larg e orchestral work is not a modern concept and is consistently found in works by Richard Strauss. Un like Strauss, however, Higdons uncertainty as to the exact repr esentation of the violin allows free interpretation. Examples 125 Jennifer Higdon, Rainbow Body Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc CD 80596. 126Phillips, op. cit., 65-66.

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53 abound of the violin being an inst rument mastered by Satan or othe r supernatural forces from the dark side (such as Igor Stravinksys Lhistoire du Soldat ). Yet, the violin has also been used to program sacred Catholic works in Heinrich Bibers 15 Rosary Sonatas (c. 1676). Whether representing devilish characters or depicting sacred scenarios, solo violin passages remain difficult to characterize. The solo violin ceases in measure 40 and Phill ips refers to this section as the composer questioning whether life is about living or dying. Musically, the uncertainty is depicted through tension and dissonance in the upper strings.127 At this point, the strings perform senza sordino which contributes to a less dreamy atmosphere th an the opening. As Phillips notes, the first and second violins are separated by the interval of a minor seventh that are doubled by the flute, piccolo and keyboard.128 In the accompaniment, the lower st rings and brass continually present perfect fifths. Although Higdon states that the an swer to the question, Is this composition about life or death? was uncertain at the beginning of the compositional process, the parallel fifths used so prominently suggests that subconscious ly, Higdon may have already known the answer. The persistent use of these consonant interval s provides relaxation from the tension produced by the dissonant upper orchestral parts. Measures 39-46 features a mini ature fanfare played by the horns and trombones. Brief and slightly fragmented, the horns sound minor chor ds. Upon the trombones entrance in measure 43, the quality of the triad changes from minor to ma jor to suggest a sense of optimism. (Figure 3-1) Higdon was questioned about this modal cha nge and unaware of the situation, she states, I was going back and forth129 Indeed, the modal mixture provides emotional ambiguity. 127Phillips, op. cit., 65-66. 128Ibid. 129Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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54 Figure 3-1. blue cathedral : mm. 40-43, modal ambiguity between horns and trombones.130 In measure 39, the horns initially present a b minor chord, but these instruments lead one to consider the true brass fanfare in measur e 102. While composing the brass fanfare proper, Higdon recalls, Thats actually a mo ment where I really had this revelation where maybe life is going to be about living.131 Yet the brief trombone and horn section in addition to the accompanimental parallel fifths in measure 40 possibly offers the optimistic answer much earlier. Phillips refers to measures 50-55 as a tran sition section, but the horns present a brief conclusion to the miniature fanfare from meas ure 40. In measure 43, the horns ended on an A minor chord, yet when they resume playing in bar 50 the parallel major chord is heard to foreshadow the compositions hopeful nature. Measure 50 offers a brighter section with the horns ma jor chords and the violins performing fortissimo (yet remaining quite dissonant). This passage begins a profound use of 130 Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999). 131Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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55 parallel fifth motion in the perc ussion and bassoon. Higdon states that these fifths are like church bells ringing in the distance, expressing an empty quality since there is no third in the chord.132 A third of the chord is present, however, on beat three of the s econd violin section in measure 50; an F#, sustained for eight beat s, completes the D major sonority. Although simultaneously played with additional fortissimo string parts, the third of the chord is quite prevalent.133 Immediately following this section in measur e 52, a more harmonic stable environment emerges. The parallel fifths in the percussion and bassoon outline D major chords while the upper woodwinds present separate major chor ds in homophonic texture. The accompanying parallel fifths persists throughout this passage to provide a rel ease from the previous dissonant measures. The homophonic texture reveals a striking contrast to the abundant instrumental soli featured subsequently in measure 56. Higdon began writing the composition with the English horn solo in measures 56-69. The choice of this timbre bears no specific significanc e other than the composers preference for a melancholic sound (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) and her admiration for the talented players at Curt is. Higdon states, Part of that grew out of the fact that the English horn, or oboe teacher at Curtis is so good. Richard Woodhams is the principal oboist of the Philadel phia Orchestra. I noticed when I would hear them (Woodhams students) play the English horn, it was so gorge ous (that) I made up my mind early on that I wanted an English horn solo. It wasnt connected to anything it just fit. So I dont know what 132 Phillips, op. cit., 68. 133The imagery Higdon suggests of church bells is not apparent in the beginning of the section. The music becomes more sonorous to the sounds of church bells in measures 57 and following when the harp, celesta and vibraphone present parallel fifths.

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56 that solo represents. I can remember my initial thought was, I got to have an English horn solo in here.134 The English horn is relatively new and still somewhat unconventi onal as a solo instrument. The earliest notable appearance occurs in the Overture to Gioacchino Rossinis Guillaume Tell (1828), a work that was harshly criticized by Hect or Berlioz. Curiousl y, only two years later, Berlioz employed the same instrument into the pastoral movement of Symphonie Fantastique The prominence of the English horn continued th roughout the nineteenth century culminating in a pivotal role in the Symphony in D Minor (1886-88)135 of Cesar Franck that remains one of the most significant soli in orch estral repertoire. The etymology of the English horn does not co rrelate to a nationality suggestive of its name. The descriptive terminol ogy for this alto oboe has been bastardized from its original meaning. In this instance, the origins of English derive from the Middle or High German term, engellisch, translated as angelic. The confus ion results from the Middle German term for the nation England, which is Engellant while engellisch meant English. This double meaning for engellisch (English and a ngelic) was understandably confounded and the angels horn eventually became known as the English horn.136 Although Higdon did not consciously associate the English horn with its hi story, it invites specula tion on potential reasons why this particular instrument receives such si gnificance. One could conjecture on the potential subconscious use of the angels horn: it seem s not only fitting but appropriate that this instrument serves a vital role in a co mposition with cathedral in the title. 134Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 135John Trevitt/Joel-Marie Fa uquet: Cesar Franck, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [28 May 2006]), 136Geoffrey Burgess: Oboe, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [28 May 2006]), < http://www.grovemusic.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu >

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57 This section, with its numerous instrumental so li, represents the lives one person touches. Higdons original idea stemmed from the time of her brothers illness. She stated to Phillips in an interview, When Andy was sick, we were at a house in Virginia Beac h and there were a lot of friends from Baltimore who would drive down to see him and I was very struck. One of the couples was getting ready to have a baby and they decided to name the baby Blue because Andys middle name was Blue. I thought, Andy ha s crossed the path of a lot of other people and a lot of people have crossed his path in his lifetime and people come and go but in some way they all touch you. And it is hard to draw a musical portrait of th at. You almost have to make little tiny solos but they have to be little. I think th e English horn solo is probably longer because that was the first thing I thought of137 Brief soli appear in the pi ccolo, oboe, viola, cello and bassoon. The variety of timbres represents all of the individuals that one crosses paths with in a lifetime. (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) The length of the soli in this section varies. The opening English hor n solo is the longest and subsequently, answered by the others. Severa l of the smaller soli are strikingly similar to one another. (The viola, oboe and cello contain the most paralle ls through their ascending scalar passages). As the music progresses, the soli ove rlap to present a polyphoni c texture, a style not yet seen in the work. The accompaniment in measure 56 present perfect fifths transposed to various degrees. The persistent employment of this interval in the preceding and current sections provides a similarity amongst two otherwise quite contrast ing passages. Indeed, perfect fifths are a consistent factor in this work and subtly function as a unifying device. 137Phillips, op. cit., 67.

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58 Although the use of parallel fi fths is no longer forbidden, one may speculate on the relevance of this interval in blue cathedral Parallel fifth motion is reminiscent of organum, a term associated with the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Parallel or consecutive fifths were a common occurrence in the genres of organum and conductus. The progression was not prohibited until Johannes de Grocheos (fl. 1300) Optima introduction in contrapunctum (c. 1300).138 With the end of the Common Practice Pe riod, parallel fifths have again, become accepted and even widespread. One can only marvel at the remarkable coincidence in the use of this interval in blue cathedral and a composition with a similar title: Debussys piano prelude La Cathedrale Engloutie (1910). My counterpoint teacher would be having a cow139 was Hidgons initial response on her extensive use of fifths. Upon further reflection, however, the co mposer traces the influence to her earlier fascination with major chords. But in blue cathedral they (fifths) really made a statement for the first time just as fi fths and I was thinking about bells.140 When questioned specifically about the potential c onnection to the title of the wo rk and the Notre Dame organum style, Higdon simply states, It s not that logical. Someone else brought that up but no, it was much simpler than that Im afraid.141 Although she does not associ ate organum with her own compositional style, the coincide nce still proves captivating. Following the various soli, a new section begins in measure 70 that is clearly delineated by a tempo change (quarter note=72) and a temporary cessation of so lo instrumental dialogue. The 138 William Drabkin: Consecutive fifths, consecutive octaves, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [11 June 2006]), < http://www.grovemusic.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu > 139Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 140Ibid. 141Ibid.

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59 unyielding chimes of the keyboard are complemented by sustained parallel fifths in the lower strings and once again, the interv al functions as a unifying de vice between the two disparate passages. (The second violins in measure 72 also present a continuous perfect fifth interval). Phillips has described this section as the composer demanding answers to her questions about life.142 (Similarly, Andrew Druckenbrod of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests frustrated emotions).143 Phillips cites the violas and violins as the purveyor of Higdons frustration.144 In measure 76, the dialogue ensues w ith a triplet motive presenting identical pitches. The discourse becomes more insist ent upon the entrances in measure 78 when the triplets are replaced by sextuplets. Phillips states, It is not obvious which instrument is going to introduce the next statement. Higdon commented that this dialogue between the two instruments creates a sense of uncertainty, which represents the need for her (Higdon) questions to be answered after her brothers passing.145 On the contrary, although the phrases are irregular in length, the presentation of the them e is delivered twice by the viol as which are imitated precisely by the first violins. Subsequent appearances repeat the order of instrumental entrances that maintain consistency. Only after three imitative entrances do the two string parts achieve independence through a contrapuntal texture. The harmonic movement in the accompanying inst ruments continues the parallel fifths in the horns, clarinets and lower strings. Only the trumpets present fully r ealized descending major chords that contrast the parallel fi fth intervals in harmonic content. 142Phillips, op. cit., 69. 143Andrew Druckenbrod, Higdon Poured Grief into blue cathedral, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2 November 2005, p. E-2. 144Phillips, op. cit., 69. 145Phillips, op. cit., 70.

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60 During the increasingly complex soli of the vi ola and violin, the orchestration expands while a crescendo increases the musical momentum. This leads directly into the next section (measure 84), demonstrated clearly by a double bar with a new tempo (quarter note=90). This passage, although beginning forte clears the orchestral texture w ith central focus relegated to the strings, percussion and trombones. The strings, echoed by the bass tr ombone, alternate brief rhythm ic motives within a narrow range (often no larger than a perfect fift h), while the woodwinds present persistent sforzando chords in syncopation to enhan ce the intensity. The independent percussion section exhibits a new, seemingly unrelated motive of sextuplets. The previous vio lin and viola dialogue utilized sextuplets frequently and one may consider this a unifying rhythm, although the pitch content differs considerably. Phillips believes measures 84-101 represent an internal struggle. Indeed, the mood is altered by a new tempo marking (quarter note= 90) and unique soli for the trombones. In addition, the timbre of the timpani is altered by covering the drums with a piece of cardboard to deaden the sound.146 This effect eliminates much of the timpanis pitch and when played forte produces a sound similar to a field drum used in battle147 according to Phillips (presumably representing the inner battle of the composer). Utilizing colorful instrumental timbres remains one of Higdons more prevalent compositional traits. The bass trombone and trombone present soli in measures 84-95. Considering the trombones historical associatio n with a heralding instrument of the damned, one may erroneously conjecture a myriad of su bconscious possibilities for this scoring. 146Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999). 147 Phillips, op. cit., 70.

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61 For centuries, trombones have aided in musical depictions of divi ne retribution. Group trombone scoring began in the compositions of the Venetian Gabrielis (Andrea and Giovanni) and Heinrich Schutz. By the early 17th centur y, the trombones reputation in depicting dramatic scenes was firmly established. Clau dio Monteverdis ope ratic masterpiece, Orfeo (1607), is one of the earliest representative exampl es and utilizes a large trombone group148 to portray the Underworld. Other notable examples are presen t in the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The supper scene in Don Giovanni (1787) and the well-known solo in the Tuba mirum of the Requiem149 (1791) remain prominent within the trombone repertoire. The trombone in blue cathedral however, bears no correlation to its colorful history. Higdon chose this scoring simply because she needed more sound and power and insists that the instrument in this instance is not linked to any musical repres entation (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., emails 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) (perhaps due to the negative pictorial associations with the trombone). In measure 84, the bass trombone presents a brie f recurring rhythmic motive comprised of two sixteenth notes that is a dditionally manipulated and exte nded in the contrabass and violincelli. Beneath this solo, the timpani presen ts repeated notes rapidl y while the low tom-tom provides a funeral-like rhythm. It is tempting to compare these rhythms to a funeral march that would lend credence to the concept of the trombone as an instrument of divine retribution. The funeral procession imagery was not intended by the composer but the rhythms that frequent the passage are suggestive of such a scenario. 148Trevor Herbert: Trombone, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [29 May 2006]), < http://www.grovemusic.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu > 149Anthony C. Baines and Arnold Myers, Trombone, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [29 May 2006]), < http://www.grovemusic.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu >

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62 At this point, the principal trombone alternat es with the bass trombone in a dialogue that initially encompasses the range of a perfect fi fth. When questioned on the narrow range, Higdon states, Thats instinct by ear and people find things in my mu sic and I didnt realize I did it.150 The opening pitches repeat with rhythmic variety before the trombone expands to a broader range. Phillips research states that this section (measures 84-102) musically depicts the soul flying toward the ceiling of a cathedral only to realize there is no ceiling.151 This imagery is plausible since the fragmented motives in th e violins gradually ex tend in pitch, but no documentation accompanies the explanation and ther efore casts a shadow of speculation on the authenticity. In measure 95, the meter changes resulting in an obscurity of the downbeat. An omission of a strong metrical pulse combined with the simultaneous presentation of rapid ascending and descending scales by the woodwi nds does support Phillips imager y of floating, but without verification from the composer, the imagery rema ins questionable. The parallel fifths are replaced by major triads in th e lower strings and keyboard to exhibit the following progression: Gb, E, Eb, Db. The upper register of the piano hints at bitonality through a separate major chord progression that if rearranged, outli ne a chromatic scale: C, Db, D, Eb, E. The harmonic discord combined with the stable progr ession of the lower strings exudes a sense of ambiguity. Musically, the instruments are floating around the entire harmonic spectrum. This passage erupts into a lively brass fanfar e spanning only eight measures (102-09), yet due to the striking instrumentati on a stark contrast is immediately present. The trumpets and 150Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 151 Phillips, op. cit., 63-64.

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63 trombones present unyielding sixteent h notes that provide a driving rhythm. This brass fanfare, according to Phillips, is the realization by the composer that life is about living.152 The bass trombone part in measure 106 originated from Higdons student who experienced difficulty with counting. The composer states, I put that in because of the bass trombone students (sic) at the school (Curtis). [He] was studying solfege with me at the time and I was torturing him a lot about counting. So I put in a counting part for (him).153 Following the brass fanfare, the rhythmic excite ment continues with fuller orchestration in measure 110. Four measures later, the flute and strings maintain the unyielding sixteenth notes while the remaining woodwinds and brass present substantially slower rhythms. Higdon refers to these contrasting harmonic rhythm s as a counterpoint of textures.154 (Figure 3-2) A prominent solo comprised of a soaring mel odic line for the horns commences in measure 115. According to Higdon, this represents the ultimate flying theme155 which progresses to an emotionally climactic section. In Phillips rese arch, the high instrumental registers symbolize the characters reaching the stars,156 yet no footnote accompanies this description. Following the climax, a new section begins pr omptly in measure 128, complete with meter and tempo change (quarter note=72) that decreases further two m easures later to the original tempo (quarter note=60). Regarding this pass age, Higdon states, I of ten think about drawing the audience in, they are in on this and by the time they get to that loud part (measures 100-128), they are with you; no one is sleeping at all. But if you can bring it down to a more intimate 152Phillips, op. cit., 71. 153Phillips, op. cit., 72. 154Ibid. 155Phillips, op. cit., 73. 156Ibid.

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64 setting really fast you actually pull the audience more with y ou. They are caught off guard by the flute and the clarinet coming in (measure 131) but because they have heard that material before and it sounds familiar, they are okay with it.157 Figure 3-2. blue cathedral : mm. 114-117, Higdons counterpoint of textures.158 Following the loud part, an ethereal envi ronment commences to accompany the Higdon siblings in their final duet. The mysteri ous aural atmosphere is achieved through the pianissimo chimes presented by the three percussionists; each sounds three different notated pitches in any quick rhythm, without synchronizi ng with (the) other players.159 This imagery according to Phillips represents bells in the distance.160 The nebulous rhythm is further enhanced by the 157 Phillips, op. cit., 73. 158Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999). 159Ibid. 160Phillips, op. cit., 73.

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65 divided second violins alternat ion between D & E. To add to the otherworldly effect, Higdon introduces the crystal glasses and Chinese health reflex bells in measure 129. The Chinese bells increase in volume naturally by beginning in the back of the orchestra and gradually progressing to the violins. In measure 131, the flute and clarinet soli repr esenting the Higdons return. The flute solo is similar to its predecessor in bar 8, although scored an octave lower. The composer provides a practical rationale for such scor ing. I can see an orchestration reason for putting that an octave lowerif you look at the flute line in the measures leading up to it is high and when Im writing I try to make sure I vary the high and low to keep it interesting for the listenerId be willing to bet this came about becauseit was something that practical.161 The clarinet solo enters in the same measure but unlike the flute, the range is unchanged from its initial appearance and represents Andrew continuing his journey upw ard. As the woodwind dialogue continues in measure 133, two violas and two celli present descending chords. Although not an exact replication, the lower strings r ecall the opening measures of the composition. Phillips referred to this section as a re turn back to earth162 based on this progression. Higdon states, I never really thought of it like that. Its the ending. I knew that Andys journey was going on. When I was writing the chords, I was thinki ng I had to get the music to se ttle downits got to feel like its coming to an end and the descending chords felt like the best way to do that to move toward a resolution. Now the flute cuts out because the clarinet is actu ally continuing on its journeyThis is the part where I said, Oh no, I cant really end this. This piece is not appropriate to end that way. Ive got to find a way to bring it down and calm it.163 Phillips 161Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 162Phillips, op. cit., 75. 163Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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66 detailed programmatic analysis does not explain the similar st ring progression in the opening measures; therefore, this author suggests the composers return to Earth occurs in the registration change of the flute solo, although any imagery remains speculative. The unidentified third characte r represented by the English ho rn returns in measure 134. Similar to its initial solo in measure 56, the range is quite na rrow, yet expands chromatically from its previous presentation. The characteri zation of this solo remains unclear to the composer. Higdon states, Could be God, could be the universe. Could be anything. It was there and it seemed logical and it is still as much a mystery to me today as it was when I wrote it.164 The English horn ceases in measure 140 quickly followed by the flute in 142. In the liner notes, Higdon writes, At the end of the work, the two instruments continue their dialogue, but it is the flute that drops out and the clarinet that continues on in the upward progressing journey.165 The final measures comprise the coda in which Higdon has cleverly applied significant numerical associations to enha nce a final representation of th e siblings. Throughout the coda, the specific numbers are essential, but they also appear in additional sections that illustrate her intuitive compositional style. The composer included the birthdates of both her brother and hersel f into the coda of blue cathedral ,166 although she has not publicly stated prec isely where such occurrences appear. Andrews birthday was July 13 (7-13) while Higdon was born on December 31 (12-31). 164 Phillips, op. cit., 74. 165 Jennifer Higdon, Rainbow Body Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc CD 80596. 166Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Composers Corner, Updated 30 October 2005 (Accessed [13 May 2006] < http://www.pittsburghsymphony.blogs.com /composers/2005/10/blue_cathedral_ .html#more>

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67 Curiously, the days are palindromes of one a nother. The composer did not consciously incorporate the years of their births, yet in th e beginning of measure 63, the piccolo presents a brief solo. Because Higdon was born on New Yea rs Eve in 1962, it is possible that this solo bears a subconscious reference to the composer. In Western society, the number 13 is associat ed with bad luck or evil. According to Scandinavian legend, 12 demigods hosted a gath ering at Valhalla when an uninvited 13th god, Loki, entered and manipulated Ho lder, the blind god of darkness, into murdering Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Darkness and mourning167 resulted for the Earth and consequently, misfortune and misery were attributed to this unlucky 13th demigod.168 A similar rationale for the unlucki ness of the number 13 derives from Christianity. Judas Iscari ot, the betrayer of Christ was the 13th guest at the Last Supper 169 and was likewise viewed as an unfortunate. It is al so likely that the number 13 was purposely vilified during the indoctrination of the current patriarchal system. In prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, the number 13 was highly venerated due to the number of lunar, or menstrual, cycles per year. Once the solar calendar replaced the lu nar calendar and the oppressive male dominated societies were solidified, the number 13 lost its former reverence.170 Due to the optimistic nature of blue cathedral however, any connection with the numbe r 13 as evil is irrelevant; Higdons positive association with the number remains a point of interest in her rejection of superstitions. 167 http://www.corsinet.co m/trivia/scary.html (Accessed [30 May 2006]) 168 http://www.globalpsychics.com/lp/superstition/friday_13th.htm (Accessed [29 May 2006]) 169 http://www.corsinet.co m/trivia/scary.html (Accessed [30 May 2006]) 170 Paraskevidekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th, Urban Legends and Folklore http://urbanlegends.about.com/cs/historical/a/friday_the_13th.htm (Accessed [11 March 2007])

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68 The performance time of the work varies, of course, but generally spans approximately 13 minutes. Although purely coincidental, the tim ing warrants mention within the numerical discussion. The initial flute solo in measure 8 appears be fore the clarinet because going first is the privilege of being the older sibling.171 Numerical significance within the composition commences with the clarinet solo in measure 13, the day of Andrews birth. Higdon comments on this authors discovery, Tha t was amazing. I was thinking after you mentioned that. I had some distant recollection of the 13 because his birthday was on the 13thbut because it was the first year after his death, my brain was so foggy. I just cant remember certa in things but that felt familiar but I have just not been able to put my finger on it.172 Measure 131 (a hybridization of Andrew and Higdons days of birth), features a brief duet between the flute and clarinet. When questione d about this instance, Higdon replied, In terms of measure 131 architechtural (sic) design...I don 't think it was intentional...I hadn't noticed that...although it is a little amazing. Although Hi gdon did not explicitly compose this measure to be numerically meaningful, she has not dismisse d the possibility of a s ubconscious reference. (Jennifer Higdon, Pers. Comm., ema ils 10 May 2006 to 25 November 2006) She states, I think theres probably something to that. I actually ha ve no doubt. I dont think that was coincidence. Its a little too much our two birthdaysit makes sense.173 Again, Higdon has not specifically outlined the appearance of the two birthdates in the coda. Phillips analysis proves noteworthy but does not include the composers birth date, and Higdon stated, I put in my birth date and Andys birth date (mine: 12-31; his 7-13) in the piece 171Phillips, op. cit., 65. 172Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 173Ibid.

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69 in a very exposed location.174 As Phillips research demonstrates, the lower crotales presents the third of a D major chord seven times to repr esent the month of July, while the glockenspiel strikes thirteen times to represent the day.175 Working with Phillips during the research, Higdon states, This is hysterical. Bre nda (Phillips) asked me about th is and she couldnt figure it out, then I was trying to figure it out. I actually did it and I was trying to figure it out! It was tricky...I did have trouble when Br enda started asking me about it. When I went back to look at the sketches, I couldnt find where I had written it downbut that had more to do with the fact that I have so many sketches of so many different things. It could have been written on a napkin and I may have lost the napkin.176 Figure 3-3. blue cathedral : mm. 149-153.177 There are additional appearances of these numbers in the coda that have not yet been exposed. Not including the final pitch,178 the vibraphone sounds twelve times to represent 174Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Composers Corner, Updated 30 October 2 005 (Accessed [13 May 2006]), 175Phillips, op. cit., 75. 176Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 177Jennifer Higdon, blue cathedral (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 1999). 178 Regarding the final pitch, Higdon states, The last note was also an extensionthat was just kind of a closing off but not part of the numerology therefore substantiating the claim that it need not be included within the numerological discussion.-Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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70 Higdons birth month. A visual aspect of the sc ores reveals further ex amples; the number of crotale pitches (including tied notes) with th e note stems facing up equals 31 (Higdons day of birth and a palindrome of 13). The Higdon sib lings birth dates therefore, are presented simultaneously. Because Andrew died at the age of 33, the co mposer also assigns significance to this number.179 Following the final clarinet solo, a prepared piano ente rs in measure 147 to chime a perfect fifth interval 33 times. The Higdons or iginally believed Andrews birthday was July 14th (7-14, rearranged in the measure number). Th e composer states, We must have celebrated his birthday on the 14th for 6, 7 or 8 years before my mom found his birth certificate and went, Oh, its the 13th.180 In measure 149, triplets in the vibraphone, gl ockenspiel and chimes result in a visual realization of the number three, a connection Hi gdon did not consciously employ. She states, I always pick up on the auditory sensation of an att ack. I dont think of it as a visual element. In fact, I think when I wrote this, I was surprised at how it came out.181 In addition, the final page of the score contains 33 different instrumental lines. The compos er can neither confirm nor deny this potential coincidence but stated, It could be something but I didnt do it intentionally.182 Finally, the number three appear s in measure 149 in the lower tr iangle and chimes. The triangle presents three pitches while the chimes display th ree separate pitches in an augmented rhythm. Four beats of rests follow before the pattern repe ats with the chimes in diminution. (A similar 179Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Composers Corner, Updated 30 Octobe r 2005 (Accessed [13 May 2006]),< http://www.pittsburghsymphony.blogs.com/composers/2005/10/blue_cathedral_ .html#more> 180 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape r ecording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 181 Ibid. 182 Ibid.

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71 example transpires between the vibraphone and gloc kenspiel). Regardless of her conception, the visual frequency of the number thre e proves significant. (Figure 3-3) Although Higdon declared openly the representati on of Andrews age at his death through the 33 chimes of the piano, all other numerical appearances were discovered by this author. Such finding should not be dismissed as coincident al; the composer validate s such discoveries as reflective of her instinctual compositional method. The opening and concluding measures of the wo rk utilize a similar instrumentation, yet no numerical significance is presen t in the introduction. Higdon stat es, Theres nothing there, I was trying to figure out how to st art the piece. I wrote that be fore the ending but this wasnt connected to anything because I hadnt thought about using th e numerology at that point. I wrote this first, I didnt get the organization sense until I got to the endand then I knew I wanted to bring back this material.183 Although composed in the wake of Andrews death, the composition is neither mournful nor a lament. Several passages utilize the tonality of D major, a key associated with vibrancy, triumph and rejoicing.184 While initially uncertain about her perspective of life, Higdon states, I was surprised it turned out so positively.185 Notating passages in the key of D major may suggest that, subconsciously, Higdon harbored positive assumptions. The composer, however, remains skeptical. She states, That wasn t conscious because when I was writing blue cathedral I was literally trying to figu re out whether life was going to be about living or whether it was going to be about death. I was agonizing. When I started that piece, I did not feel like 183Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 184A History of Key Char acteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, trans. Rita Steblin (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1983 185 Andrew Druckenbrod, Higdon Poured Grief into blue cathedral, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2 November 2005, p. E-2.

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72 things were going to be ok.186 Higdon does not dismiss the possi bility of D major appearing subconsciously, but remains adamant that any pos itive associations with the key were minimal due her intense grief.187 Undoubtedly, blue cathedral has attained an elevated status among modern symphonic compositions. Several explanations account fo r its continuing popularity. While the work contains dissonant passages, the composition is aurally pleasing and accessible to those at various stages of musical comprehension. In addition, the underlying programmatic content relates to the human condition. Throughout hi story, audience acceptance has not guaranteed posterity, of course, but this work is also held in high esteem by trained musicians that implies a level of sophistication beneath the audible pleas antry. Musicians, condu ctors and critics are drawn to the unique timbres and musicianship requ ired in the individual soli that permeate the composition. blue cathedral catapulted the composer into wi despread recognition. Paving the way to subsequent orchestral commissions, this work, born from intense grieving, has transformed Higdons compositional caree r into a modern-day fairy tale. 186Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 187 Ibid.

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73 CHAPTER 4 CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA Similar to blue cathedral Higdons Concerto for Orchestra materialized from a celebratory occasion. The Philadelphia Orches tra had substantial plans to inaugurate its centennial year that included comm issions of several compositions.188 Higdons Concerto for Orchestra the largest work she had yet written, was a result, and has since appeared frequently on orchestral programs throughout the United States. Word-of-mouth is Higdons primary method of promoting her music. She believes superior compositions will garn er recognition, a factor that provided Higdon this opportunity with the Philadelphia Orchestra. A musician189 in that ensemble ha d performed her music and heard a recording of he r orchestral composition Shine (1996). That musician suggested Higdon as a composer worthy of commission to the direct or of the Philadelphia Orchestra. As a result, she received a telephone call from Simon Woods, the artistic administrato r, requesting a score and recording. She recalls, I didnt know why he was asking. I actually had a couple pieces (sic) but they werent very good but I had this one piece called Shine and I took that to him.190 On the composers selected for the commissions, she states, I know that they were going to have to commission a Philadelphia composer in this mix because they w ould get a lot of flak. They looked at a lot of people but somehow they came up with me that was a shock to all of us.191 Higdon humorously relates how she discover ed she was ultimately chosen, I forgot about it, and about one month la ter I was walking down the stre etand the first flute player, 188Other compositions resulting from these commissions include Aaron Kerniss Color Wheel Michael Daughterys Philadelphia Stories and Roberto Sierras Concierto para orquesta 189Higdon does not know which musician recommended her music. --Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 190Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 191Ibid.

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74 Jeffrey Khaner was running down the street, jumping up and down motioning to me. He goes tearing across three lanes of traffic, almost getting hit and he said The Philadelphia Orchestra is going to commission you. At which point I promptly fainted. No, just kidding.192 The composer recalls her ini tial period of uncertainty once Khaner informed her of the startling news. Higdon states, As soon as I wa s out of grad school, suddenly I got this commission, I was completely horrified. In fact, rea lly for the next two or th ree days I just wasnt sure I heard him correctly. It t ook a while for that to sink in. A nd then panic set in, literally for about a year. What have I gotten myself into because all my teachers, all these people were pointing at me saying, Shes the one with th e Philadelphia Orchestra commission. You could hear the whispering.193 Higdon comments on the potential gossip within the Philadelphian compositional circle at the time, Im sure there was probably mumblings and grumblings. There had to beIm in a city with some amazi ng composers and I had literally just come out of graduate school. I had only graduated four years before. Thank goodness there was a gap from the time they asked me to write it than when the premiere (occurred) because I needed that time to adjust my thinking. It was too much pressu re. I would have been in trouble if I had to turn out that piece within a year. Im glad there was time for me to think about it.194 Due to the prestige of the commissioning ensemble and its surrounding circumstances, the composer allowed herself a wide time frame to write. Higdon began the work fairly soon after receiving the unexpected commission and vividly remembers her feelings of uncertainty. She remarks, 192Publishing, self-publishing and the internet, Transcript of panel during Womens Philharmonics Composing a Career Symposium-6 November 1999 newmusicbox 2/1/2000 (Accessed [7 July 2006]) available from http://www.newmusicbox.o rg/article.nmbx?id=537 ; Internet. 193Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 194Ibid.

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75 What the hell am I going to write for th e Philadelphia Orchestr a? It was scary.195 The commission, originally granted in 1998, was not scheduled to premiere until 2002.196 Early in the composition process, Higdon identified the work as a Concerto for Orchestra Numerous orchestral work s by a plethora of composers have been given the same title ranging from Zoltn Kodly, Roger Sessions, Witold Lutos awski and Leonard Bernstein (whose composition is also known as Jubilee Games and includes a baritone vocal part), to Joan Tower and Goffredo Petrassi, the latter of whom wrote eight sepa rate works entitled Concerto for Orchestra from 1933-1972.197 Bla Bartks composition of the same name is perhaps the most commonly associated with the genre and continues to rema in a favorite of orchestral audiences. Because of the extensive popularity of his work, parallels between Bartk and Higdon are frequently drawn by critics regardless of the fact that over twenty compositions bear this same title. Composing a work in the shadow of the well-know n Bartk did not deter Higdon, although she consciously strove to be unique. In order to preserve originality, she states, I stopped lis tening to the Lutos awski and the Bartk because I love those works. I would never be able to make my own kind of Concerto for Orchestra; I was afraid that my head would be replaying their music. So I intentionally stayed away fr om those pieces for four years. I was aware of them, but I tr ied not to think about it.198 Similarities between the Bartk and Hi gdon works are limited to the number of movements and the arch form utilized in each. Higdon comments, Because I stopped (listening 195Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 196Andrew Quint, Speaking with Composer Jennifer Higdon: The Communication Thing, Fanfare May/June 2004, p. 42-45. 197Enzo Restagno, Goffredo Petrassi, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [11 July 2006]), 198 Andrew Quint, Speaking with Composer Jennifer Higdon: The Communication Thing, Fanfare May/June 2004, p. 42-45.

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76 to Bartk during the compositional process) and I le t that out of my system, I forgot about the fact that the Bartks in five move ments. I honestly didnt realize.199 It is worth noting, however, that outside of the large formal structure, little similarity can be found between Higdons and Bartks compos itions. Higdon consciously strove to differentiate her work from that of the Hungari an master. The various parallels drawn between the two composers appear to stem more from a lack of knowledge of additional existing works in the same genre rather than actual similarities. A Concerto for Orchestra by any composer will make use of the diverse timbres available in la rge ensembles. Higdon states that many people are drawn to making comparisons w ith her music. She recalls, One reporter said this piece ( Concerto for Orchestra ) reminds me of Lutos awski and Schoenberg and Mozart and Stravinsky. They went on with the whole list and all the composers (were) completely contradictory and I (thought), What the hell ar e they saying? I dont understand what this means.200 Although unclear, the jour nalist may have been refe rring to a touch of neoclassicism. In her earlier works, Higdon chose descrip tive titles suggestive of a specific mood or character. She abandoned the possibility of a poetic title for this work because, Concerto for Orchestra was so specifically about th e Philadelphia Orchestra that commissioned it that after trying to think of a title for several years, I coul d only see a plain ordinary one in my head. I knew that this could be the only possible title for that piece.201 The label is not only fitting but 199Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 200Ibid. 201Renate Brosch, Composing as a creative challenge: Interview with the American Composer Jennifer Higdon, Musikzeitschriften, p. 8 (Accessed [7 May 2006]) available from http://magazin.klassik.com/magazines/template.cfm?SEITE=1&START=1&AID=879 ); Internet.

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77 appropriate since it truly is a conc erto for the entire orchestra complete with a plethora of soli that distinguishes the indi vidual five movements. When asked about this abrupt change, Higdon remarked, Thats a very unusual thing for me. Its so absolute that I couldnt come up with a more original title. They (people) actually said, What the hells wrong with you?Theyre (the compositions) often about the ensemble Im writing for and Im thinking about the ensemb le. My braindoesnt come up with any kind of imagery.202 As an active member of Phila delphian musical life since her graduate school years, Higdon has established personal relationships with many of the orchestral members. Intimate knowledge of the differing personalities of the musi cians in addition to th e familiarity of the style of music preferred by the principal players enhanced the genuineness of the composition. Higdon stated, Ive worked with a lot of the Or chestras musicians in new-music concerts. I went to school with some at Curtis, or they are former students of mine. Im tailoring the Concerto to the individual players and to the Orchestra as a whole.203 Higdon believes this familiarity reinforced sincerity to the specific commission. She states, I could see their faces when I was writing; I knew whod be playing what part. Ive worked with a lot of them and know the kind of music they pick for their recitals.204 Personal relationships between premieri ng musicians in large ensembles and contemporary composers are not particularly numerous within the c ontemporary scene. 202Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 203 Jennifer Higdons Concerto for Orchestra Highlights Premieres, Sequenza 21 6/3-10, 2002 (Accessed [7 July 2006]) available from http://www.sequenza21.com/060302.html 204David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms =jenni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet.

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78 Composing music specifically for musicians does, how ever, have a strong history as seen in such examples as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts operati c works. In a similar vein, Higdon purposely wrote soli for instrumentalists in Concerto for Orchestra based on their musi cal strengths and personal preferences.205 The composition of this work occurred duri ng Higdons frenzied trav el schedule. The second movement was written in several locations surr ounded by large bodies of water. These sights include Pensacola, Florida while at a musi c festival, Los Angeles, while her partner was involved in a convention, and finally in Chicago. Because of the close proximity of oceans and lakes, the second movement reminds Higdon of wind blowing on the water and even the hotel rooms remain vivid in her memory. Although the composer believes her surroundings had an impact on the music,206 the influence is not pronounced enough for the listener to associate the music with water. Higdon clearly states, Theres no literal reference to water.207 The entire five movements, unlike blue cathedral fall strictly within the genre of absolute music. The world premiere of Higdons Concerto for Orchestra occurred on June 12, 2002 with Wolfgang Sawallisch leading the Ph iladelphia Orchestra at the ne wly opened Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Last of all the commission ed compositions to be performed, the work was paired on the program with Rich ard Strausss epic tone poem, Ein Heldenleben The orchestral 205 Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620. 206David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms =jenni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet. 207Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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79 musicians nicknamed Higdons composition E in Higdonleben after witnessing a more favorable audience response to this work compared to the Strauss.208 Although Higdons Concerto for Orchestra was successful with the audience and musicians at its premiere, an element of adde d exposure enabled the composer to exhibit her work to the most influential people on the Un ited States symphonic circuit. The American Symphony Orchestra League was holding their annua l conference in Philade lphia at the time. Regarding the potential impact such a respec ted audience could garner Higdon states, There were 3,000 orchestra managers thereIf it worked, things were going to go great for the rest of my life, if not it was going to be bad.209 The composition was triumphant, enabling Higdon the opportunity to enjoy higher recognition as a co mposer. As a result, her compositions are programmed more frequently. This fame was a contributing factor to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras appointment of Hi gdon as Composer of the Year210 which, in turn resulted in the commissioning of another concerted work, the Trombone Concerto After the premiere, Higdon comments that her li fe was completely al tered and people have since referred to her as a celebrity. With her cu stomary laid-back personality, she states, What? Are you kidding me? Oh my God, (John) Corigliano s famous, Im not. It was totally ridiculous but I never think of myself that way.211 Regardless of how she views herself, this composition in combination with blue cathedral put her name on the orchestral map. 208David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms =jenni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet. 209Andrew Druckenbrod, Composer Making Musical History, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2 November 2005, p. E-1. 210Ibid. 211 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape r ecording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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80 Since its premiere, Concerto for Orchestra has been performed numerous times by professional orchestras incl uding the Dallas Symphony, the National Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the BBC Orchestra. The work has al so been featured on programs of several of the nations most prominent university orchestral ensembles such as the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In its original conception, the Concerto for Orchestra had only four movements212 but was quickly expanded to five. The last movement may be interpreted as a continuation of the preceding movement since it is performed attacca and contains linking ostinato motives in the percussion. In addition, a pletho ra of musical ideas from pr evious movements are present throughout the finale that provides cr edence to interpreting the finale as a large coda to the entire composition. Formal analysis reveals a symmetrical arch form that, although not abundantly common, occurs in several standard repertoire works.213 Higdon stated that the ti tle infers an accentuation of the entire orchestra in cont rast to a solo concerto. According to the composer, the work displays the talents and the gift s of the players who play in the ensemblein this particular case I have written a work that shows off the principa l players. There (are) solos for everyone in the group214 A treatment of varied soli within the orch estra is to be exp ected of a composition bearing such a title. The featur ing of individual sections for entire movements is less so, yet 212 David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms =jenni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet. 213 Brahms Ein Deutches Requiem and Bartks Concerto for Orchestra both standards in the western art music canon also utilize this form. 214Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra, (Accessed [7 July 2006] http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/p ghsymph.nsf/concert+listings/22DD934D488A89548525703500670D45?ope ndocument.

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81 examines the possibilities available within like timbres. In contrast, the orchestral movements explore the capabilitie s of a full symphony. The orchestration of this work is quite extens ive and requires nearly all of the instruments available in a percussionists arsenal. The orchestration for the percussion section exceeds blue cathedral ; understandably so, since the fourth movement is solely dedicated to exploring these particular timbres. Three percussionists a nd a timpanist comprise the required number of musicians for this section. The woodwinds and brass utilize three player s per instrument (with exceptions in the scoring for four F horns and a single tuba). A fully sc ored string section is included and the orchestration is further expanded by a harp and piano/celesta part. Undoubtedly, the work is full of the energy a nd rhythmic drive associated with Higdons music. As a humorous aside Higdon states, Thr ee people have gotten sp eeding tickets listening to that ( Concerto for Orchestra ) in the carone person ran a light I try to warn people, Be careful listening to this in your car. I was shocked at the firs t rehearsal. I was completely terrified. My friends who went with me to th e rehearsal (said), Holy cow, do you realize what youve done? I (responded with), No, wh at happened? A totally goofy reaction.215 The first movement was the last to be co mposed. Higdon felt the other movements had to be written before working on the initial m ovement. She recalls her feelings of anxiety beginning the composition, The first movement wa s the last thing I wrote and it was the most terrifying moment. I thought, Im goi ng to mess up all these other movements.216 The first movement focuses on the complete ensemble separated by episodes that feature entire sections as soloists. Higdon states her purpose was to rec ognize the fact that it takes 215Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape reco rding, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 216Ibid.

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82 many individuals to make the whole orchestra.217 Communication with audiences comprises one of the most important aspects of Higdons mission as a composer. This disposition is prevalent in an on-line preview to the Pitts burgh Symphonys performance of the work. Higdon stated, Theres no way to start th is better than having everyone pl ay together and I got a lot of notes in this beginning but I want ed to show you what it sounds like, the mass of the orchestra coming at you.218 The first movement may erroneously be categ orized as a sonata form. Upon closer analysis, however, it becomes evident that, even under the most lenient of definitions, this is not the case. Unifying motives are present that link separate sections rather than exploring stark contrasts. As a result, the i ndividual sections share musical elements with each other and continue to build upon one another. Throughout the composition, Higdon provides fe w descriptive tempo markings. Instead, approximate metronome markings are supplied. The first movement, typical of many multimovement compositions, is endowed with a spirited tempo. Rather than showcasing the full orch estra during the opening measures, Higdon commences with only the timpani, chimes, string s and horns. It bears mentioning the unusual prominence bestowed upon the percussion in the opening. Instructed to play fortissimo these instruments sound the pitches of F and Bb that almost immediately expand to F, Bb and E melodically. (Figure 4-1) Thus the opening is comprised of a perfect fourth followed by an 217Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620. 218Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra, (Accessed [7 July 2006] http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/p ghsymph.nsf/concert+listings/22DD934D488A89548525703500670D45?ope ndocument.

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83 augmented fourth. Higdon would never be classi fied as a serial composer and such atonal implications are unusual. To the current author, she stated, Im glad you see (the intervals)youre the only one. You know what most people say? I hear a one (tonic). Theres several (comments): V-I, IV. When I wa s writing, I was literally ju st thinking about the intervals. I want(ed) the intervals to unfold and I thought (they were) more interesting sounding. Instead of going perfect fourth, perfect fi fth, I put perfect fourth and a tritone.219 The opening fourth interval plays a prominent role in the subs equent movements and it is significant that this melodic interval begins the composition. Figure 4-1. Concerto for Orchestra I, mm. 1-4.220 Arnold Schoenberg also had an affinity for these intervals and frequently composed chords containing a perfect fourth and an augm ented fourth in his at onal works. Although Schoenbergs scoring for these chords generally appears harmonically while Higdon writes these intervals melodically, the sim ilarity remains noteworthy of Higdons all-encompassing style. 221 She states, I thought the sound wa s fascinating, thats actually itI knew I needed something 219Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 220Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002). 221Unlike Schoenberg, Higdon is not a twelve-tone composer. In fact, she states, I thought it (serialism) was totally uninteresting. I have written 12-tone works, but I thought that whole phase was uninterestingI had to write it in graduate school, but I pretty much steered clear of it early on. 221 Jason Victor Serinus, Interview: The Award-Winning Jennifer Higdon, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity June 2005 (Accessed [8 July 2006]),

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84 that sounded like it was revvi ng upI thought, Jesus, how am I going to write somethingand make it lead logically into all the rest of the stuff. So that inte rvals got me in trouble. I cant tell you how many people who prefer atonal musi c have gotten ticked because they thought it had tonal implications. Thats usually the grie f people give me about it its funny because I dont take it as grief. If it works as music I dont care what you thi nk about it. If it says something to the audience, thats all that really matters to mebut people usually look at that in tonal(ity) and I wasnt thi nking that way at all. It was literally intervals.222 The excitement commences immediately with the forceful percussive opening. The following measures are scored primarily for the st rings displaying a fugal-lik e texture. This is not a true fugue, however, because the subject is ex tended in its various presentations rather than exhibiting itself unchanged as in a proper fugue. Another contrasting factor lies in the opening pitch of each individual presenta tion of the subject. Imitations in these passages occur on the same pitch (B natural) rather than transposed. While the imitations occur within the same pitch class, the opening passages also do not conform to the style of a canon. The initial measures are undoubtedly polyphonic but do not lend themselves partic ularly well to the strict definitions of polyphonic forms. (Figure 4-2) Figure 4-2. Concerto for Orchestra I, mm. 2-6.223 222Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 223Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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85 The B natural is consecutively employed for the opening pitch in the strings imitative passage. This note is accented in the score, pr esumably to focus attention on the continuously entering thematic figures. The subject passe s through the strings before appearing at increasingly rapi d intervals. The horns are the only additional instrumentation scored in the opening measures. Initially, the parts are imitative of the first violins fugue-like subj ect. Following only one direct imitation, however, the horns manipulate this ma terial. Their significance in the compositions beginning is reinforced by the forte dynamic marking in addition to the notation of accents on each pitch. Within the string section, the imitation continues to increase in intensity. The climax occurs at the cessation of this polyphonic textur e in measure 11. Although the texture changes to homophonic at this point, the persis tent rushing sixteenth notes aid in reinforcing the momentum initiated by the subject. A temporary break in complexity is achieved through unison scoring of the strings. The homophonic texture lasts only a brief three measures befo re an interesting harmonic situation arises in measure 14. The strings return to the opening polyphony but the imitative subject begins primarily on F#. Within the structural confines of a fugue, the answer would typically be transposed to this pitch (a perfect fifth higher than the original B) but Higdon has delayed this harmonic occurrence for an astonish ing thirteen measures. The imitation in the strings is similar to the opening with added doublings by select woodwi nd parts, their first appearance in the composition. The timbral focus, previously found in th e strings, is further contrasted with this sudden appearance of woodwind instruments. (Gradually, Higdon

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86 introduces the brass section th rough imitative passages for trombone s one and two in a different context from the strings). The chimes and timpani continue to sound th e opening fourth and tri-tone intervals melodically. The original pitches have been tr ansposed a minor second from F to F# yet the interval remains consistent while drawing attention to the new tonal area introduced by the strings. The continued use of these atonal sounding intervals provi des a striking harmonic contrast. Throughout this imitative string section, the sc oring of woodwinds increases to produce a fuller orchestral sound. Since the horns and percussion are tacet, th e woodwind timbres are clearly discernible. In addition, the dynamic mark ing for the woodwinds is fortissimo while the strings are marked only forte implying more emphasis on the winds. The principal melodic material derives from the answer initially provi ded by the strings. Because this answer is derived from the initial subject, the entire work is thus far unified by the opening violin measures. A subsection begins in measure 29 with the inco rporation of nearly the full orchestra. The oboes, clarinets, bassoons and pi ano continue the rushing sixteen th notes. The strings (still doubled by several woodwinds) are sounding minor sixt hs and perfect fifth in tervals in parallel motion. Moving in homophonic texture, this sect ion provides contrast from the earlier polyphonic style of these instruments. A link between the two subsections is appare nt within the horn section. By scoring ascending perfect fourths in measure 29 for this instrument, Higdon recalls the opening percussion interval. The line is somewhat vari ed through the use of onl y perfect fourths yet

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87 remains a clear reference to the opening. The ascending motion of the line is a recurring theme in this composition. (Figure 4-3) Figure 4-3. Concerto for Orchestra I, mm. 29-33.224 After this concise display by the entire ense mble, the orchestration is minimized by the omission of the trumpets and piano in measur e 46. This may imply that a new section is commencing, but the strings (and doubled instruments) continue to sound perfect fifth intervals. Rather than the minor sixth this sound was paired w ith earlier in measure 29, the interval of a major seventh is now heard in the second violins in combination with the pe rfect fifth intervals. An orchestration change has also occurred: the clarinets replace the trumpets with the descending major chords and similar rhythmic figures. To further substantiate returning musical material, the chimes melodically present the opening intervals of perfect and augmented fourths in measure 46. The orchestra at this point is sounding much of the primary musical material pres ented thus far in the composition that results in an elaborate culmination of themes and motives. The second trombone, bass trombone and contrabass present descending perfect fifths, a musical signature of Hi gdon. (The horns add to this effect through stationary fifth intervals). 224Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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88 Measure 51 begins the second se ction of the first movement. Rather than featuring the entire ensemble, an immediate contrast is pr evalent through the cessati on of all instruments except for the vibraphone (doubled by flutes in a low range) and horns. Higdon uses these instruments as accompanimental materi al to various instrumental soli. The bass clarinet presents the first solo in the work. While bass clarinet soli are rare, the instrument is featured in seve ral of the most popular compositi ons of the canon. Tchaikovsky s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the ballet The Nutcracker and Stravinskys Rite of Spring both make use of the bass clarinet as a solo ist. Flowing from the pen of Schoenberg, the symphonic work Pelleas und Melisande (1902-03) also features the instrument. Although strictly coincidental this similarity adds a curious secondary parallel to the music of Schoenberg in addition to the opening intervals. Higdon uses the bass clarinet in this section to present an expanded version of the original violin subject from measure 2. This solo also exhibits an ascending musical line, a prominent feature throu ghout all five movements. When asked about the unexpected coincidences to Schoenberg, the composer stated, When I make decisions in music its never based on other music because Im still learning this repertoire. Since I grew up on rock and roll, I just dont know this stuff. My brain doesnt work that way and I dont know the rep(ertoire). Im learning, I figure its going to take me the rest of my life cause I started so late. I think that surprised people about this piece because they knew I had this disadvantage.225 The bass clarinet is not the sole purveyor of me lodic interest in meas ure 51 but is paired with a piccolo. The contrast between a low ranged instrument to the extreme high register of the piccolo is striking. The piccolo line balances the bass clarin et through a descending melodic line. The duet results in a question-answer dialogue. 225Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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89 Unlike its bass clarinet partner, scoring for piccolo dates back seve ral centuries. This timbre was utilized as early as Jean-Philippe Rameaus tragdie en musique Dardanus (1739) and later by Christoph Willibald Gluck in Iphigenie en Tauride (1779). Although scoring for the piccolo began a generation before Beethoven, it remains most recogn izable in the symphonies of the great master of Bonn (not ably in the finale of the Fifth Symphony but also appearing in the Pastoral and Choral symphonies). The piccolo continues to be a crucial instrument in the repertoire of military bands but has been infrequently included in the works of western art composers. The most prominent example resides in Hector Berliozs Grand Symphonie funebre et triomphale (1840), originally scored for military band but later transcribed for orchestra.226 In relation to Higdon, the influence mo st likely stemmed from her ear liest musical experiences in the marching band. While the piccolo and the bass clarinet present th eir soli, the horns forcefully punctuate brief rhythmic figures recalling their opening motive. At the cl ose of this woodwind duet, the instrumentation increases gradually to include the strings and a full woodwind section. Throughout these measures, music and rhythmic fi gures return from the opening section. In measure 58, the violins revisit their polyphonic mate rial heard initially in measure 8 while the oboes sound melodically (although w ith rhythmic variation) the same perfect fourth and augmented fourth intervals heard in the percussi on section at the opening Exploration of the latter interval in transposition continues in th e bass and contrabassoon in measure 68 (briefly imitated in measure 70 in the viola). Several measures later, the same instruments sound the 226Jeremy Montagu, Piccolo, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [12 July 2006]),

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90 interval of a perfect fourth (als o transposed). Thus the presen tation of the two intervals although appearing in reverse order is complete. Fourth intervals also appear in the French hor n lines in measure 76. As in measure 29, the intervals ascend and the line is comprised primarily of perfect fourths. Th is scoring unifies not only the two sections that feature this musical line in the horns but also connects the instrument to the percussion and lower instruments of the or chestra through the conti nued use of the fourth interval. In addition, Higdons penchant for rising melodic lines is further revealed. A new section commences in measure 82 exuding a dream-like quality. This atmosphere is attained through the omission of brass instruments that often adds sharpness and brightness to an ensemble. Consecutive trills in the violins coupled with fast flowing scalar passages in the woodwinds precede this passage to aid in amplifying this contrasting mood. Although this dreamy excursion does not involve the full orchestra, the texture contains a sufficient amount of density to provide significan t contrast before another soloistic adventure commences. In the first solo section, an accompanying ostinato was scored for the vibraphones and flute. This next solo features an ostinato pattern with similar instrumentation providing further unification within the movement. The flute, piccolo, glockenspiel and marimba are complemented by the harp and ascending patterns in the celesta continue to enhance the ethereal atmosphere. Higdon turns her attention to the strings in th is new section to diversify the sound. The instrumentation for the four soloists varies from the typical string quartet by using only one violin; the expected second vio lin is replaced by the bass.227 The range of the bass is significantly elevated and in several instances, the instrument plays in a range similar to the first 227 One cannot help but compare this unusual scoring w ith the Trout Quintet of Franz Schubert due to its popularity within the ca non, yet little else recalls the music of Schubert.

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91 violin. The texture of the st ring soli is homophonic and the li ke timbres are treated as one instrument providing a potential explanation to the similar ranges in all four voices. The function of the strings has cha nged drastically from initially pr oviding a polyphonic texture with considerable momentum to sounding as one instrument. Higdon did not originally concei ve these soli as a single in strument. She comments, I didnt. Once the strings got goi ng I did think of that, I find it fascinating. I thought, What would it sound like to get all the strings moving together? A nd I did something really unusual. They had to play detache in places where they normally w ouldnt. They might be doing three bows or three notes per bow and I (thought), Let s see what it sounds like. How much power would there be with the Philade lphia string sectionit was just me wanting to hear what the sound was like.228 The marimba ostinato sounds an open fifth interval beginning in measure 82. Only when the solo strings enter in measure 86 does the interv al become more insistent and subsequently, is presented consecutively on the beat. The consona nt perfect fifth complements the warm string sound yet still remains subtly linked intervallically with the diminished fift hs featured previously by the percussion. Once the strings complete their soli in measur e 93, a curious circumstance transpires. A solo rhythmic dialogue ensues in the second viol ins, the instrument previously omitted in the string quartet solo. This dialogue is notated for divided first de sk meaning that not only is the principal second violinist a solois t but also the assistant principa l. (Figure 4-4) When asked about the uniqueness of this instrumentation, Higdon stated, Why not? Theyre phenomenal 228 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape r ecording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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92 players and dont get the opportunity.229 Although marked as a solo, the parts do not constitute a melodic line but rather a continual sounding of the same pitch in a highly rhythmic environment. Higdons personal connection with the Philadelphia Orchestra and many of its members provided additional motivation for such unorthodox orchestral scoring. Indeed, the composer remarked, I did know Kim Fisher. I know her very well. Kimis still the principal second violin of the Philadelphia Orchestra and I had gone to school with her at Curtis. At one point when I was a student and I had a piece pe rformed by the Curtis Orchestra, she was the concertmaster. I couldnt leave her out. Kim would have been very upset with me230 Higdon reiterates and expands upon he r belief that second violinists are as equally strong players as the first violinists. In my head, the second violinists are so good today that theyre just as good as the firsts. All six of my string quartets have really prominent second violin parts and sometimes the second violin is higher than the first violin. Composers dont ever do thatI must confess some of the second violinists, often (comment), M y parts higher than the first violin. (To which I respond,) Why not ? You (have) all this training. I look at them as equal. Its in my chamber music, too but in this particular piece ( Concerto for Orchestra ) its because I knew the principal player.231 Although Higdon may view all violin ists as autonomous, she j okingly recalls that not all the principal second violinists who perform this solo with their respective ensembles enjoy the limelight. Of course there have been a lot of pr incipal second violinists that have not been too 229David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms =jenni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet. 230Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 231Ibid.

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93 happy with me since then. What are you doing to me? (they ask)another comment (I heard), I could throw you off a roof.232 Always sincere and casual, Higdon laughs at these situations and says, I promise I wont do it again.233 Figure 4-4. Concerto for Orchestra I, mm. 94-97.234 Once the string quartet completes their soloisti c venture, the melodic focus is immediately returned to the woodwinds. Higdon provides soli for all four instrument s within the section. Unlike the preceding homophonic texture of the st rings, Higdon achieves contrast in the wind timbres through independent, individual lines. The brasses are the next feat ured soloists in measure 105. Although the solo instruments are fairly independent, the pur veyor of melody is undoubtedly the trumpet. Due to Higdons tendency to utilize the trumpets for her charact eristic major chord progr ession, it is unsurprising that these instruments would be given the melodic responsibility. After the brass exhibition, the composer expa nds the orchestration to combine soli from various sections of the ensemble. The solo string quartet returns in measure 116 with descending major chords similar in pitch and rh ythm to the trumpets in measure 29. Between these solo string statements, the woodwinds sound homophonic figures that serve as antecedents 232Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 233Ibid. 234 Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: La wdon Press, 2002).

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94 to the strings consequences. The perfect fifth intervals are transferred to horns two and four. Musical material from previous sections clearly continues with a variety of timbral changes until the end of the section in measure 123. As touched upon briefly, this movement does not correspond strictly with sonata form despite the fact that the music retains certain form al elements. Within sonata form, a retransition is commonly found to close the development that paves the harmonic road to the recapitulation. In the Classical era, a retransition was freque ntly characterized by sp arse orchestration to reinforce the appearance of the opening themes in the recapitulation. Higdon uses a similar technique by scoring brief statements only in the woodwinds and even smaller melodic fragments in the strings in measure 123. Th ese succinct imitative passages could suggest an anticipated recapitulation. Although the musical material that follows contains similarities to the opening, contrasts are sufficient to evade the sense of familiarity found in a sonata form proper. In addition, throughout the composition thus far, motives and intervallic significance continually build upon one another which do not correspond particularly well to sonata form. In measure 128, the strings ( tutti ) return to the imitative texture seen in the compositions opening bars but do not simply dupli cate the initial musical material Rather than utilizing the strings rising sounds heard at the start of th e composition, these imitative segments descend in pitch. In measure 133, the second trumpet forcefully plays the ascending fourth melodic line that revisits the horn part previously featured in measure 29. Higdons proclivity for showcasing the trumpets with her unique compositional style ofte n was displayed in the exhibition of descending major chords. It is noteworthy, therefore, that the composer chooses this timbre for displaying the rising sounds prevalent throughout this entire composition. Additional returning material is heard in the homophonic chords s ounded in the second violins and viola (also in measure 133).

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95 Viewing the viola as the foundati on, the distance between the pitche s in this part and the double stops in the second violins is comprised of a perfect fifth (the inversion of the perfect fourth) and augmented fourth intervals that retained a prominent position in the opening bars. (Figure 4-5) In measure 138, the horns recall their opening motive from measure 2 (in both instances the dynamic marking is forte ) and therefore, instantly recognizab le. To enhance this entrance, a thin orchestration returns only for bar 138. The composer undoubtedly does not choose to simply restate the opening but to experiment wi th all of the primary musical material of the movement. Figure 4-5. Concerto for Orchestra I, mm. 133-136.235 In measure 153, the ensemble section initially found in measure 29 returns with only slight variations. This permits a stronger sense of familiarity than found in the preceding measures which were marked with an amalgamation of musical motives and themes. This recognition, however, does not last long and th e music is transported quickly. Beginning in measure 168, Higdon applies vari ous compositional techniques to further enhance the intensity of the mu sic. Throughout the ensemble, transposition by a minor second, repetitions and a gradually expanding orchestra are employed to amplify the momentum. After climaxing as much as she dares within the pr incipal movement, Higdon diminishes the sound to niente and drastically thins the sound in prep aration of another soloistic venture. 235Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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96 Measure 187 corresponds with measure 51 complete with an ostinato figure in the percussion. Rather than utilizing the bass cl arinet and piccolo dial ogue, the bassoon and oboe are featured. Although the instrumentation diffe rs, the soli correspond dir ectly with measure 51 amid additional scoring for several woodwinds. The result is a section that continues to explore the capabilities of w oodwind instruments. Thus far, three of the core sections of the orchestra have been featured soloists. The percussion makes its anticipated appearance in measure 205, less than fifty measures from the close of the movement. The harp and piano are featured soloists that are complemented by an array of pitched and non-pitched percussion inst ruments. These include the small triangle, crotales, glockenspiel and vibr aphone which alternat e rather quickly. This brief section functions as a hors doeuvre to the exclusiv e percussion scoring of the fourth movement. Thematic material from this section derive s from measure 94. As seen numerous times within this movement, Higdon uti lizes previous musical material with different instrumental timbres. Her exploration of sim ilar musical content in various in strumental colors is never far removed from her compositions and remains part of her style that stems from her fascination with sound. As the movement nears its close, the orch estration gradually increases and another corresponding section occurs be tween measures 215 and 104. Several measures later (bar 237), the oboes recall the trumpets previous primar y melodic material fr om measure 29. Although such descending chords are a stylistic trait of the composer, the adjustment in timbre and dynamics provides a distinct ambiance from its earlier character that is apposite to this unassuming ending.

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97 With a composition bearing the title Concerto for Orchestra, the full ensemble may be expected to close a movement that f eatured various solo episodes amidst tutti statements. Evading predictability in the coda, however, the st rings continue their sile nce in preparation of a stark timbral contrast at the commencement of the second movement that is scored exclusively for strings. Higdon closes the movement in a much different manner than its beginning. Gone from the ending measures is the highly intens ive polyphonic texture a bounding with rhythmic verve; the movement ends discreetly with a decrease in tempo and dynamics. The composers years in Philadelphia afforded her a familiarity with the traditionally lush string sound of the Ph iladelphia Orchestra.236 About the second movement, Higdon states, The entire movement came from that saying the Philadelphia string sound.237 She relished the opportunity to display this talent and thus em erged the exclusive scori ng for strings. With a string section famous for its l uxuriance, one would anticipate a slower tempo with harmonic richness. Higdon comments on her original concepti on of the movement, I wanted that to be a slow movement. I fought that for the longest timebut the only music coming to me was fast and finallyI caved into it. But the entire time I wasnt convinced it was going to work until we got through the first night s performance. I thought Id write something lush and slow. It wasnt happening probably because I wrote sl ow music in the third movement.238 While the grand opening movement showcased the full ensemble, the second movement examines the capabilities with in the string section. Higdon re marked, The strings arethe heart of the orchestra. You hear that sound in any piece you hear when you go to a concert but I 236Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620. 237 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape r ecording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 238Ibid.

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98 wanted to see what it sounded like to have the strings play pizzicato and also arco 239 As a prominent composer, there can be little doubt that she is quite aware of these contrasts. The exploration of these effects was chosen, in part to demonstrate the timbres available within a string section. She further st ates, I was thinking about pizz versus arco thin versus thick, the solo strings. I was debating sound.240 Her earlier remark reflects an undeniable historic al aspect of the symphonic repertoire. As Higdon stated, the violins have often been classified as the heart of the orchestra. In its earliest beginnings, symphonic compositions frequently feat ured the violins in a primary melodic role while the winds simply reinforced cadences or increased the volume. This scoring continued until the latter section developed further that increased these instruments potentiality for melodic independence. A shift in string dom inance of orchestral instrumentation began primarily with the mature symphonic settings of Haydn and Mozart and er upted with Beethoven. In conservative Romantic composers, however, traces of the earlier string significance continued as witnessed by the early string symphonies of Felix Mendelssohn. Because of the likeness in timbre, Higdon u tilizes different techniques to enhance contrasts. The alternation from pizzicato to arco in addition to solo scor ing and frequent textural changes accomplishes this diversity. The use of pizzicato is scarcely novel, of course but due to rare use in this composition, the sudden change of sound in the opening of the second movement alters the timbre and atmosphere considerably. 239Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra, (Accessed [7 July 2006] http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/p ghsymph.nsf/concert+listings/22DD934D488A89548525703500670D45?ope ndocument. 240 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape r ecording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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99 In the liner notes to the reco rding, Nick Jones describes this movement as similar to a scherzo.241 The composer concurs and explains the mu sic as a little bit of a dance actually, a romp through the string section.242 The etymology of the term scherzo derives from the German scherzen translated to English as the verb to joke.243 The form of a scherzo has remained predominantly ternary and stems direc tly from the minuet and trio, its earlier dancemovement predecessor. In the ea rly nineteenth century, the sche rzo was often performed before and following a trio section resulting in a tripar tite structure. Although the structure of this movement is ternary244 and contains a spirited tempo, the score does not suggest any implication of the original jesting charac ter associated with a scherzo. This quality, however, is not essential. In the music of Beethoven, movements marked in this form often lose the jocular association as do Chopins four piano scherzi. Higdon comments on the Jones liner notes of her recording, I wasnt thin king of it that way (as a scherzo) cau se my brain was still wanting slow music but it wasnt coming out that wayit is kind of scherzolikeits kind of (a) romping along sort of feeling. It really is a dance for stringsI came to think of it that way cause the strings roll along. It does ha ve a B section in there.245 241Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620. 242Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra, (Accessed [7 July 2006] http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/p ghsymph.nsf/concert+listings/22DD934D488A89548525703500670D45?ope ndocument. 243Tilden A. Russell and Hugh MacDonald, Scherzo, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [14 July 2006]), 244Early examples of scherzi assume a plethora of forms and do not necessarily correspond to ternary. Correlations between ternary forms and scherzi evade a solid connectio n and therefore do little to enhance the argument that Higdons second movement is a scherzo. 245Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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100 Initially, a different B secti on was included, but later Higdon co mposed an alternative. The latter was chosen to replace the original. She states, Im glad I threw out the right one cause the one I ended up with was more appropri ate. At one point it (the omitted B section) was just too far off. I cant even remember the te xture but I listened to it (and thought), It doesnt work, it doesnt work. And I wr ote another one, the one thats currently there and I thought, I dont know if I like this as much, but it fits better so I left that one.246 During the eighteenth century when symphonies and concerti were embarking upon their journey as standard concert genres, the tempo of the second movement contrasted with the preceding allegro movement. This pattern grad ually changed in the nineteenth century as evidenced by spirited second movements in the symphonies of, among others, Robert Schumann and Mendelssohn. Symphonic poems further challe nged the formal stru ctures and tempi of accepted practices and, by the dawn of the twenti eth century, a predictable standard of a second movement within a multi-movement composition became elusive. Higdons employment of two consecutive fast movements, therefore, is not unorthodox. The movement begins pizzicato and immediately the pitch co ntent stipulates comparison with the first movement. In the compositions opening, the first violin s initiated an imitative passage based on a subject comprised of B-C#D-E-F. In the second movement, the unison violins pluck B-C-D-E. The motive is then repeated and expanded to include an F#. The openings of the two movements are remarkably si milar not only in pitc h content but also in instrumentation. Barring pure coincidence, wh ich seems highly unlikely, one must deem these measures as a compositional device to enhance unity between the individual movements.247 The 246Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 247 Higdon did not compose consciously a connection between the first two movements. Due to its striking similarity, however, it seems likely this is her subconscious compositional method at work. She states, I didnt

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101 five pitches are the basis for much of the s econd movement and like the opening movement the primary pitches are eventually treated imitatively in the lower strings. The violins play in unison onl y while stating the opening motiv e. As the only instruments playing in the first measure, this unison scoring provides further emphasis of the borrowed material from the first moveme nt. Immediately following this st atement, the violins and viola assume a polyphonic textur e. A continuous pedal pizzicato note occurs on B in the celli and the bass to counteract the highly inte nse rhythmic activity in the u pper strings. The motives that pass through the strings are quite concise. The composer recalls the purpo se for the brevity and the resulting dance-like effects. I wanted to write longer lines for the strings. I went into Curtis, I wrote it out and I asked the kids in my class, my twentieth ce ntury music class, How long can you do these ( pizzicato ) at this speed wit hout hurting yourself? They said, Well you better only do it a beat or two because thats actually pretty fast. It was a practical consideration to keep from hurting the players. But wh at ended up happening when youre in a live performance of this pieceIt looks like a da nce because its getting handed off and I didnt realize that because I stayed back stage in most of the performances. I was so nervous but people kept coming up to me afterwards saying, Oh my God, those strings were dancing in the second movement. The people who were in the balcony c ould actually see the trad e-offs, but its just a practical consideration of what would be dange rous for the players because they could hurt themselves easily at that speed. This is cause the kids at Curtis said, Dr.Higdon, dont do more realize the connection between the first and the second movement. I learned something today. Probably on a subconscious level Id be willing to bet, my brain did make that connection.-Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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102 than this. I (thought), Alright, I ll figure out a way to write it. So thats how we got the motive the way it is.248 (Figure 4-6) Figure 4-6. Concerto for Orchestra II, mm. 1-2.249 In measure 10, the ostinato is lowered by a half step (Bb) The unifying motive from the opening is also transposed down by a minor second. The consistent sounding of motivic phrases combined with the pedal pizzicato continues through bar 17. Although a new section does not commence in m easure 17, the instrumentation alternates to provide the bass and cello (combined with the vi ola) the motivic material initially scored for the violins. The sound assumes a different charac ter not only in the chan ge of instrumentation but also in dynamic c ontrast (now marked forte compared to the openings mezzo forte ), but this is simply a re-statement of the opening material varied in an intelligent manner. This restatement is further enhanced by th e return of the harmonic language to the initial subjects B natural. The violins are entrusted w ith the purveyor of an ostinato pattern similar to the lower strings opening. Unlike the initial presentation, the ostinato in measure 17 is not performed in unison; Higdon commences to make use of the chor dal potential of string instruments by scoring 248 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape r ecording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 249 Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: La wdon Press, 2002).

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103 double stops in the violins. The compos er provides a musical indication, ala guitara above the violins. The pizzicato violins in combination with double stops instantly achieve the desired strumming guitar effect. In measure 21, the lower strings maintain a separate homophonic texture from the violins that provides a brief moment of relaxation from the preceding polyphonic act ivity. This measure serves as transitional material to a new musical idea beginning in measure 22. The tutti strings merge to commence a new ostinato beneath the five soloists about to enter. Higdons trademark perfect fifth interval app ears in various guises in measure 22. The ostinato pizzicati of the violins are separated by this interv al. In addition, the first violin solos opening pitches sound an ascending pe rfect fifth. As mentioned in the discussion of the first movement, rising sounds are prevalent throughout this entire composition and hence, it is significant that the initial solo in the second movement begins w ith this distinguishing feature. Finally, it bears noting that an inversion of the fifth inte rval is depicted in the ostinati of the viola and cello. (Figure 4-7) The principal soli are performed arco the first appearance of the style in this movement. The soli are neither imitative in pitch content nor rhythm and act as solely independent melodic lines. Higdon conquers inherent ba lancing obstacles by maintaining pizzicato ( tutti ) beneath the arco soloists. Although the soloists material is not imitative, Higdon does incorporate a few compositional curiosities that link the soloists melodic lines to one another. The opening pitches of the second violins so lo in measure 23 are sounded in re trograde by the first violin in the subsequent measure. Also in this bar, an imitative instance occu rs in the viola that incorporates a restatement of its initial material in the following bar. Because the tempo is quite

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104 spirited, these occurrences may not be overtly identifiable to the ear yet remains a point of interest in the compositional anal ysis. Finally, the string bass solo enters with a continuous ascending line that serves as a unifying contour throughout the wo rk. (Figure 4-8) Figure 4-7. Concerto for Orchestra II, mm. 22.250 The pizzicato ostinato pattern in the tutti strings gradually appears less consistently before eventually becoming tacet in measure 29. At this point, the homophonic texture of the ostinato is transferred to the soloists to contrast another polyphonic epis ode about to commence. During this homophonic activity, the violins are separated by the interval of a perfect fourth (as are the celli and the basses). The significance of this interval cannot be overstated and is simply an inversion of Higdons trademark perfect fifth. 250Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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105 Figure 4-8. Concerto for Orchestra II, mm. 23-24.251 In measure 31, the soloists rejoin their respective sections while the pizzicato technique is eliminated altogether. A unified arco sound combined with a forte dynamic result in higher tension than heard previously in the movement. To furt her enhance the intensity, polyphony once again ensues. The order of entrances and pitch content mirrors the musical material of measure 22 but transposed a minor second higher.252 This once soloistic material has been varied a number of ways. As in measure 22, th e significant interval of a fourth separates the voices. Measure 44 concludes the tutti restatement of the solo sectio n and the music returns to the polyphonic activity initially presente d in measure 10. Subtle differences are employed for aural contrasts such as independent line s for the lower strings originally played in unison and of course the imitative subject now presented through arco scoring. This marks the first appearance of 251Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002). 252 This transposition recalls a similar occurrence found in measure 10 that transposed the opening polyphonic material by a lowered minor second.

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106 the subject performed in this manner. Although the pitches are almost exact replications of measure 10, the change from pizzicato to arco grants a stark distin ction. In addition, Higdon notates accents in the upper strings melodic lin es that were absent from the previous corresponding measures. The accents are neither rhythmically cons istent nor do they appear to conform to any specific pattern. The effect hi ghly increases the unpredic tability, urgency and momentum of the movement. Measure 51 corresponds to earlie r material from measure 17 with several variances to maintain the musics energy. The homophonic ostinato double-stop chords previously sounded in the violins now appear in the celli and bass parts. The intervallic structure of the celli consists of minor thirds which are simply inversions of the previously heard second violins major sixths.253 The ala guitara indication is omitted in measure 51 and the ostinato chords are no longer arpeggiated. Instead, th ese chords are now performed arco in an innovative polyrhythmic pattern. The celli play consecu tive eighth notes while the basse s utilize duplets that provide higher rhythmic complexity not yet seen in this movement. Above this altered ostinato pattern, the upper strings empl oy imitation at the octave. Although neither the structure of the melody nor the pacing of the imitation corresponds to measure 17, the ostinato pattern and polyphonic texture pr ovide the connecting link while simultaneously allowing the violins and the viola to explore free material. In measure 55, the ostinato pattern in the bass changes abrup tly from a perfect fifth interval to a unison E. This pitch is a perfec t fourth interval from the original ostinato found in the movements opening. Although the ostinati are simply accompanimental passages, this 253The use of inversion to vary significant sections appear s fairly frequently in Higdons orchestral music as noted with the numerous inversions of the perfect fifth.

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107 occurrence seems noteworthy in providing a potential unifying li nk throughout the entire movement. New melodic material appears in measure 59 in the upper strings while the celli and bass prolong the ostinato As in measure 22, the ostinato gradually occurs less frequently before becoming altogether tacet. The violins and vi ola return to an imitative polyphonic texture in which the intervals in the viola line are immedi ately echoed by the second violins and later by the first violins. True to her affinity for cer tain intervals, Higdon chooses to use the perfect fourth/perfect fifth for such displays. A previously unseen motive appears in the cello beginning in measure 68 that necessitates commentary. Because this motive is the only materi al in the lower strings at this juncture, its sudden appearance is quite conspicuous. The new motive is featured several times in the celli before polyphonic manipulation occurs in the bass and eventually the viola. These sightings appear more frequently and ultimately overlap at a rapid pace. In addition, the contour of this new motive utilizes the continuous rising lin e that permeates the entire composition. Undoubtedly, this movement is highly polyphonic, ev en more so than the first movement. The form is not a fugue in structure although cert ain imitative material is more prominent. Therefore, referring to this cello motive as an oc currence of stretto is not entirely accurate. Stretto is technically defined as the procedure of beginning a second statement of the subject before the preceding statement has finished, so that the two overlap.254 Paul Walker also states in his definition that by the mid-seventeenth cen tury, this technique wa s frequently employed near the conclusion of a composition to increase excitement and intensity.255 Although Higdon 254Paul Walker, Stretto, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accesse d [17 July 2006]), 255Ibid.

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108 exhibits the motive in precisely this manner and it indeed appears near the end of the movement, she chose not to use the original imitative materi al in the opening measure but instead introduces a new motive altogether. (Figure 4-9) Figure 4-9. Concerto for Orchestra II, cello motive, mm. 68-69, 71-72.256 One may realistically expect returning musi cal material appeari ng in various guises throughout a select movement or composition to serve as a unify ing device. The composer continues this trait as exhibited in measure 81. The vio lins sound minor thir d intervals (along with its inversion) that brie fly recall a similar scoring in measure 17 while simultaneously evoking the lower strings harmonic pattern in measure 51. Although the intervals are not exactly replicated, the scoring and consistent repetitions recreate the earlier passages. Measure 92 initiates a return to the initial s ubject material. By truncating the original motive to only three notes, the music is intensified naturally. The melodic interest retains the initial scoring of violins and viola complete with the Bb ostinato scored separately for cello and bass. As the movement nears its close, Higdon return s to several musical id eas heard previously throughout the movement. These recurring musical sections, however, do not appear in the same order as their initial presen tations. While measure 99 corr esponds to measure 51, immediately following in measure 106, Higdon re calls the solo section initia lly heard in measure 22. 256Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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109 Although the instrumentation is near ly identical in the latter circ umstance, a new verve urgently pushes the music forward. All strings are equally divided between the melody and the ostinato rather than utilizing solo lines as in its earlier appearance. This slight change offers a new found momentum that aids the close of th is romp through the string section.257 The coda commences in measure 115. One of the composers unique stylistic elements is included as a personal signature to close the movement. The fi rst violins and cello are playing perfect fifth intervals (although occasionally inverted). The harmonic focus of these two instruments is B and F#. If viewed through the gla sses of tonality, this may easily be analyzed as a consistent tonic-dominant harm onic progression. (Figure 4-10) Stressing these two chords at the close of a movement occurs habitua lly throughout the Comm on Practice Period and contemporary audiences remain familiar with su ch an ending. Beca use communication with audiences ranks high on Higdons list of musical importance, it is unsurprising to find the second movement closing in this accepted and time-tested manner. The incorporation of an ostinato bass pattern is fairly characteristic of Higdon and also appears in measure 115. Rather than simply a repeated note as in the beginning, a descending line is used to imply the key of b minor that fu rther strengthens the argument for tonality when combined with the B and F# in the upper strings. The ostinato varies after several presentations and by measure 119, only 10 measures from the clos e, the basses regularl y sound the pitches of B and F#. 257Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra, (Accessed [7 July 2006] http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/p ghsymph.nsf/concert+listings/22DD934D488A89548525703500670D45?ope ndocument.

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110 Figure 4-10. Concerto for Orchestra II, mm. 115-116.258 The movement closes convincingly with two b minor chords played fortissimo The final pitch of the movement is a unison b scored as a snap pizzicato thus bringing the movement full circle to its pizzicato opening. Higdon states her purpose in scoring a snap pizzicato I thought, Id love to hear the Phil adelphia Orchestra do a snap pizz together. Alright, lets put it in, thats actually how it happened. Like a kid in a candy shop to be quite honest. Someone had given me the biggest box of crayons around and I was goi ng to have fun with it. Joy in sound.259 The composing of Concerto for Orchestra began with the third movement. Higdon recalls how various instrumental soli became the pr imary feature of this movement. So many of the players were asking me for solos or wan ting things specifically soI decided (that movement) was just going to be solos featuring the principal playersThis piece was so big I knew that I had to go with whichever felt instin ctively like the first movement to write (and) 258Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002). 259Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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111 because I had the most ideas for the solos, I just started ther eotherwise I never would have started, I was too nervous about it.260 Because the work follows an arch-form structur e, this movement represents the peak of the entire composition.261 Arch-form is loosely defined as a musical form that is symmetric in time and climaxes in the middle.262 Higdon remarked that she did not actually conceive the composition as an arch-structure but did consciously strive to ma ke the third movement the heart of the work. The similarities of scoring separate sections of th e orchestra in movements two and four add credence to the arch fo rm hypothesis. In the composer s words, But it does kind of have an arch. It makes perfect sense. Its tutti orchestra in I, III and V. The faster musics in I and V. That makes sense.263 When asked if she reduced the scoring in the second and fourth movement to enhance the arch form, Higdon states No I literally thought, Don Liuzzi wants to play percussion.264 The third movement reaches its zenith through featuring not only indi vidual sections of the orchestra but soli for principal players as we ll. The result is a mo re extensive exploration between the full ensemble, sections and soloists th an seen in the first movement and displays the orchestral capabilities under th e hands of a master cr aftsperson. Higdon states that the entire movement is comprised of soli. All the prin cipal players have their own solo so you get a chance to hear everybody all the way up from the first violins down to th e bass player even the 260Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 261Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620. 262Traditional & Folk Music-Encyclopedic Dictionary, arch form, [17 July 2006] < http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk /traditional-music/ency/a2.htm > 263Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 264Ibid.

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112 principal second violin has a solo which is a litt le unusual. But theres a lot of talent in an orchestra and I wanted to show it.265 Unlike the opening two movements, the third ca rries a descriptive adjective rather than a sole metronome marking. The tempo is defi ned as quarter note=92-108 accompanied by the term mystical. As noted previously, Higdon does not subscribe to organized religion but describes herself as a spiritual person. Regarding her childhood re ligious experiences, she states, No one in the family went to a church re gularly, but we had spiritual books around the household, everything from Buddhism to the Bible. I am a really spir itual person, but I dont follow any particular doctrine. Wr iting music feels a bit like prayer.266 Spirituality may be interprete d in a myriad of ways a nd Higdon does not specify the precise meaning she ascribes to her use of mystical allowing for open interpretation and assumptions. Mystical is technically defined as having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence.267 Higdon states that the number three doesnt have to do with anything (such as a reference to the Holy Trinity); it was a coincidence just because that was the size of orchestra I use d. The winds were in threes becauseits too expensive to play a piece if winds (are) in four. It was a practical 265Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra, (Accessed [7 July 2006] http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/p ghsymph.nsf/concert+listings/22DD934D488A89548525703500670D45?ope ndocument. 266 Jason Victor Serinus, Interview: The Award-Winning Jennifer Higdon, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity June 2005 (Accesse d [8 July 2006]), 267Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary, Mysti cal, (Accessed [7 July 2006])

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113 consideration.268 When this author mentioned the divi sion by threes in the violas in measure 10, the composer stated, Thats an accident. Totally subconscious.269 The first connotation associated with the mystical marking and the number three is immediately apparent since only the third moveme nt bears such an adjective. Movements one, two and five simply include a metronome ma rking (movement fours tempo also uses a metronome marking along with the directions Freely & Together) Featured soloists also appear in groupings of three in the third move ment which invites furt her speculation on Higdons subconscious use of spirituality. Finally, inst ances abound that divide a single instrumental section into three separate lines. A more th an merely coincidental phenomenon is not only plausible but likely due to this movements ge nerous incorporation of the number three. The movement begins with a soft dynamic ma rking to create a mystical atmosphere. Similar to the second movements opening link to the first movement, connections are immediately apparent between the second move ment and the beginning of the third. The exclusive string sound from the second movement is presented in the initial measures of the third movement complemented by the small triangle, glockenspiel and harp. Additional unity is provided through the alternation in the lower strings from an arco to pizzicato style, a compositional element utilized ex tensively in the second movement Finally, the opening pitches in the strings, harp and piano consistently s ound the pitches of F and Bb, both of which figured prominently in the preceding movement. (Figure 4-11) When asked about a correlation between the pizzicato and arco sounds in movements two and three, Higdon states that unifying the two m ovements was not intended initially. Explaining 268Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 269Ibid.

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114 the conception of the eerie ambien ce of the third movement, she st ates, I hadnt thought about it (the similar alternation of pizzicato and arco styles in movements two and three) because I was trying to create mysterious sounds and I knew it was like when you whisper, you draw them in. I knew if I did that in the string s it would (increase the attention of) the audience. Thats all it was. I was playing with the audience. That andI saw a movie around that time (with) a sound effect I think part of that must have been from some movie I saw around that time, too. I remember thinking, Thats an inte resting sound, but (it) is so different that it make(s) you stop in that movement. Everythings been a straight forward sound up to that point. So, even though I was writing that movement first I thought, Lets cr eate some magic to set up the solos. What would create solo magic? I always find string harmonics interesting, thats why theres some natural harmonics in that movement.270 Regardless of how the composer initially acquired the sound, there is no doubt a similarity between movements two and three. In measure 7, the piano presents a stylistic Higdon ostinato Almost inaudible, the pattern consists solely of two alternating pitches F and E (the latter acts as a neighboring tone). The vibraphone, consistently sounding an F, continues the significance of this note in relation to third movements opening harmonic scheme. Brief imita tive passages utilizing a descending perfect fourth occur between the chimes and the piano. It is interesting to note that an ascending perfect fourth, the inversion of Higdons favored interv al, was the initial sound of the entire work. The violas, divided into three, produce majo r triads beginning in measure 10. These chords testify to Higdons unique style and were frequent within trumpet passages in the first movement. The viola progression travels slowly in whole tone motion and the scoring for this passage provides a degree of warmth to the music. The exploration of this orchestral section in 270Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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115 the third movement rather than second may be attributed to th e order in which the movements were composed. Since the third movement was written first, the appearance of the lush string sound verifies that Higdon was indeed in fluenced by the ensembles reputation. Figure 4-11. Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 1-6.271 Measure 12 presents a solo for the principal flute that commences a prominently featured woodwind section. The flute is accompanied by a continuation of earlier material that incorporates several of Higdons stylistic elem ents: descending fourth s in the chimes, an ostinato in the piano and major chords in the violas In measure 25, the soloist is joined by the 271Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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116 additional two flutes in hom ophonic texture. These flute soli initiate a pattern followed by subsequent soli that continues throughout the woodwind section. The flute soli cease in measure 35 followe d by a brief transiti on that recalls the movements string opening. At bar 39, the majo r chord accompaniment scored initially for the violas is re-orchestra ted for three trombones. Higdon continues to feature the woodwinds with an oboe solo in measure 42. Similar to the presentation of the flutes, th e principal oboist is given a brief melody before being joined by the other players in the section. Only duri ng the principal melody do the trombones continue their major chord progression (in bar 56, upon th e entrance of the second oboe, the trombones are replaced by the returni ng violas). (Figure 4-12) Blending the timbres of an oboe with three trombones is highly unusual. The composer remained uncertain of this sound until the initial rehearsal. I worried about the oboe solo accompanied by three trombones, so at the first re hearsal, I tried having (the) trombones muted. But it wasnt a lush sound, so we removed th e mutes and I said, Tha ts it, right there!272 In measure 56, a change in texture provides a stark contrast between the presentation of the flutes and oboes. While the flutes e xhibited homophonic textur e, the oboes present polyphonic lines based on the octatonic scale. (F igure 4-13) While the oboes continue their melodic line, the celli and bass join the violas to provide accompanimental material in measure 63. The clarinets subsequently appear with the so lo material in measure 78. In the previous presentation by the flutes and oboes, the principal chairs played a substan tial solo line before the 272David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms =jenni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet.

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117 remaining members of the section entered. In contrast, the three clarinets enter almost simultaneously. Higdon combines textural elemen ts from both the flute and the oboe sections by scoring the three clarinets imitatively followed by a homophonic texture. In addition, the aural palette is diversified by a varied accompanimental pattern with new instrumentation. Rather than utilizing major chor ds in the viola or trombones, th e second violins alternate major seconds that recall the minor second ostinato of the piano during the flute soli. (Figure 4-14) Figure 4-12. Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 42-47.273 The principal solo initially omitted from the cl arinet section appears in measure 85. On the variation of the clarinets order of entry, Higdon states, The clarinet was reversedclarinet section first and then the solo. I intentionally re versed that. I often make it hard for playersbut it means I get a lot of questions duri ng the break. It happens every time...274 At this point, the accompaniment returns to the major chords in the trumpets marked con sordino, presumably to 273Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002). 274Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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118 lessen the brightness of the timbre against the solo clarinet. The piano joins the second violins to continue the ostinato in slower note values but the major second interval has been inverted to a minor seventh.275 The composer remarks on the change, I did invert that. I do remember doing that intentionally th ere cause I wanted the same sound but I needed something different. It had to be different enough to clear out for the clarin et to be heard along with the trumpets (since) thats the first time I had separate material on top of a clarinet. I probabl y just said, What would go with the solo clarinet there? And I did look at the second violin and thought, If I do a minor 7th, Im going to have a problem here because thats a wide leap, so I (have) to divide the strings to thin the sound enough that the cl arinet can break though. Every tim e we rehearse this with an orchestra, we always tell the second violins, Play less, pl ay less. Its a probl em; that leap really makes the sound pop out much more than I wanted. I wasnt thinking theo retically in terms of the harmonic movement but I was thinking (of) the inversion of the major 2nd. I remember thinking, Yeah the 7th would work well this is one of those spots where I di d invert (the interval) because I(had) to change the sound (to) be interesting276 The principal clarinet solo ceases abruptly in measure 95 followed immediately by the presentation of the bassoon. True to the compos ers penchant for creating aural assortment, Higdon varies the manner in which the soloists ar e featured. The princi pal bassoon is initially provided with a melodic line that is instantly extended through diminution. Beneath the solo, the second bassoon and the contrabassoon move in thirds in their own rhythm. In the final phrase of this passage, all three bassoons combine to fo rm a homophonic texture. The second bassoon and 275 Several earlier examples of a similar occurrences show th e significance Higdon attaches not only to individual intervals but also to their inversions. Although not likely to be noticed by the ear, this compositional curiosity proves captivating from an analytical standpoint. 276Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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119 the contrabassoon, previously marked mezzo piano join the principal in a forceful final statement that results in a spirited conclusion to the sect ion featuring the woodwinds. Figure 4-13. Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 56-62.277 Figure 4-14. Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 82-86.278 277Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002). 278Ibid.

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120 Throughout the bassoon-featured se ction, additional melodies soli are written in the violins for the assistant concertmaster and the first desk of the second violins. This unusual orchestration of soli within the second violins was initially explor ed in the first movement, but outside of this unorthodox scori ng, no musical connection is apparent between the movements. This unusual instrumental choice for soli is a test ament that the composition truly is a concerto for the entire orchestra. The three violins present major chords below the bassoon solo; the violin soli cease in measur e 106 in anticipation of the bassoons final phrase. In measure 106, an accompanimental pattern is f ound in the second violin s that recall their ostinato in measure 78. Initially consisting of altern ating major seconds, the composer varies the sound in measure 106 by changing the major seconds to minor seconds and placing it in a lower range.279 Although several instances of returning material were present in both solo and accompanying passages, Higdon varied the music convincingly to avoid what could easily become predictable and tiresome in the ha nds of a less conscientious composer. Beginning in measure 108, the remainder of th e orchestra gradually re-enters. A new section is not immediately apparent since the homophonic texture of the continuing bassoons links the woodwind section to this transitional ma terial. The composers signature major chords are presented by the flutes and first violins. The intensity gradually increases with additional scoring of major chords and the eventu al inclusion of the full orchestra. Much has been made of the importance of the fifth interval within Higdons symphonic writing. Within this movement, its first notabl e appearance occurs in measure 123. The bass, timpani, tuba, contrabassoon, horns, celli, harp and the left hand of the piano consistently sounds 279Noteworthy in comparison is the pianos ostinato found in measure 7 that also oscillates between minor seconds.

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121 fifth intervals (or inversions). Because the sc oring of these intervals transpires in the bass instruments of the orchestra, the sound is quite pr evalent. When asked about her frequent use of fifth intervals, the composer stated, I use a lot of fourths and fifths. It used to be a lot of tritones, (but) thats eased out through the yearsthat was from Bartk actually cause I love that sound but Im careful about that unless Im writing something extremely pointy. My tritones evened out the fifths and fourths.280 (Figure 4-15) Figure 4-15. Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 123-126.281 The intensity that emerged from the full ense mble is brought to a close in measure 127. The orchestration returns to a sp arse texture to complete the final woodwind commentary. The three flutes and two clarinets pl ay a brief passage while the ch imes sound the perfect fourth interval found in the opening measures of this movement. Because these intervals are marked at a piano dynamic marking, the focus remains clea rly on the woodwinds. By recalling the 280Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 281Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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122 beginning interval, the chimes provide unification within a m ovement intent on displaying timbral contrasts. In measure 129, the strings retu rn as the primary featured soloists while the woodwinds gradually diminish in number and volume to cr eate a seamless transition. Unlike the polyphonic texture utilized frequently throughout the w oodwind soli section, the strings commence immediately with a brief homophonic texture in measure 129. Each of the string instruments appear individually contrary to the trios customarily found prev iously in the woodwinds. The composers inclination toward featuring unexpected instruments continues with a solo for the bass, the first stringed instrument to be featured in the section. The melodic line is scored in a relatively high range and, although no t a direct quotation, the contour of the line and rhythmic freedom allude to the opening flute solo of measure 12. The independent statements of the strings are separated by conc ise homophonic phrases by all five soloists. The second violin solo enters in measure 139 and similar to the ba ss, is scored in a high range. As the string section progresses, each individual instrument re ceives a smaller solo. In comparison to the woodwind section, the strings melodic lines are quite truncated presumably because of the attention this section received in the preceding movement. While the cello embarks on its melodic sojo urn in measure 146, se veral Higdon stylistic traits appear in the accompanimental passages. Not only is the ostinato pattern of alternating major and minor seconds re-orchestrated fo r the flutes, but the vibraphone sounds a countermelody comprised primarily of perfect fourths. The opening interval consists of the exact same pitches as the descending fourth initially pr esented by the chimes in measure 8 that exhibits again the composers pr edilection for referencing previous material. Higdon extends this concept further through the inclusion of a gradua lly ascending line in the vibraphone. Although

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123 somewhat difficult to find unifying links between the individual movements, the concept of ascending material may serve as such a device du e to its extensive presence in this work. The only extended solo in the strings occurs in measure 159; the first violin has an ascending passage lasting until bar 171. (Figure 4-16) This solo returns in measure 246 to close the movement. It is interest ing to note that, although se veral unorthodox soli were found in earlier sections, the historically significant role of the concertm aster has not been lost on Higdon. Figure 4-16. Concerto for Orchestra III, concert master solo, mm. 159-162.282 To bridge the string soli with the next sec tion, Higdon turns again to the opening motive of this movement characteri zed by the alternation of pizzicato and arco in measure 172 that also appeared in measure 35. Although the transition is rhythmically varied from its original statement, the musical material remains quite r ecognizable and continues a sense of unity within the movement. Continuing on her quest to feat ure all orchestral sections, Higdon subsequently turns her attention to the brass in measure 175. In contra st to the woodwinds and strings, Higdon does not present each section of the brass individually. Through consistently varying the manner in which instruments appear, she mainta ins a high musical interest. The horns announce the opening of the brass sect ion with major chords while the strings simultaneously complete the transitory passage (A similar situation occurred during the 282Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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124 commencement of the string soli that continued to utilize the woodwinds in an accompanimental role). Higdon employs four horns; yet becau se horns two and four are doubled only three different pitches sound. The low brass instruments exhibit an imitative texture stemming from the solo scored for tuba in measure 177, an exact replication of th e principal oboe solo in bar 42. This line is subsequently imitated by the trombone and th e bass trombone respectively. The French horns also allude to this solo in their opening interval of a minor sixth in measure 180 (the initial melody began with a major sixth). Yet the bras s soli do not constitute the only reference to measure 42. The aforementioned string transitory passage provides an additional unifying link since a similar section occurred prior to the oboe solo. Finally, the accompanying passages provide further similarities. In measure 42, th e oboe was accompanied by major chords in the trombones. When the material returns in meas ure 177, the major chords are retained but reorchestrated for the low string instruments. A variety of brass instruments continue to pl ay similar material to the oboe passage. A true testament to Higdons masterful craftsmanshi p is prominently displayed: while introducing familiar material, she imbues it wi th a sparkle of originality and freshness. Previously, the principal oboe was the sole purveyor of melody, while here Higdon alternat es the line between separate brass instruments. In each setting, the passage lasts pr ecisely fourteen measures which does not contain any particular significance but remains a compositional curiosity. (Figure 4-17)

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125 Figure 4-17. Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 177-182.283 One could reasonably anticipate a continui ng correspondence with the oboe passage throughout the brass-featured se ction. Higdon does return the im itative texture of the two oboe soli from measure 56 but, as expected of this co mposer, the second appearance is altered in the corresponding measure of 191. (Figure 4-18) Rather than utilizing two instruments of the same timbre, the dialogue is presented by the third trumpet and the second trombone. The composer complements this passage by an additional solo not found in measure 56: the tuba provides a variation of the third oboe solo from measure 63. Higdon ha s achieved contrast and repetition simultaneously through a mixture of timbres and varying the placement of musical statements. 283Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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126 Figure 4-18. Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 191-192.284 The manipulation and polyphonic treatment of the three borrowed oboe lines continue throughout the brass section culminating in a fair ly complex environment. This plethora of musical activity gradually returns the orches tra to its full grandeur in measure 210. Higdon partially references the large orchestral sect ion in measure 116 through rhythmic and melodic similarities. This varied restatement progres ses until measure 231 when it is followed by an immediate thinning of the orches tration to enable the final soli to be audibly coherent. The composers unorthodox solo scoring of individual strings retu rns in the celli in measure 234. Initially played by the first two st ands, the soli continues in measure 236 utilizing only the first stand. The melodic ma terial at this juncture consis ts of alternating major seconds. The coda of the third movement recalls earlier core musical material from the beginning of this movement. In measure 238, the strings sound a truncated version of their opening material. As previously stated, this passage also served as transitional material between larger sections within the movement. Simulta neously, the harp reiterates the ostinato (complete with oscillating minor seconds) initially found in the piano in measure 7. (Figure 4-19) 284Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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127 Figure 4-19. Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 238-244.285 Not to be outdone, the celli also provide a link to the opening of the movement in measure 245 that recalls the viola sec tion of measure 10 through the marking con sordino the scoring of a major chord progression and dividing the section in thr ees. In the final bars of the movement, the chimes sound the ever prominen t interval of a perf ect fourth. Although transcribed, this familiar sound undoubtedly stems fr om its initial appearance in measure 8. The principals of each woodwind section have melodic li nes as well that recall their earlier featured section. In measure 239, the principal flute exhibits the primary melodic mate rial that is actually a much abbreviated account of its initial solo in measures 12 and 14. The homophonic texture of 285Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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128 the supporting woodwinds in combination with the mixture of their various timbres emulates a similar orchestration device pr esent in the brass passage. Finally, as stated above, the concertmasters solo in the clos ing bars of the movement echoes the similar material in measure 159. (Figure 4-20) Due to plen tiful references to the opening of the third movement, the material in the coda harkens to its own begi nning that effectively br ings the movement full circle. Figure 4-20. Concerto for Orchestra III, mm. 245-251.286 Movement four features the percussion secti on (with additional scori ng for harp, piano and celesta). Unlike other sections of the ensemble, the percussion was not highlighted as a section in the previous movement. This movement, therefore, establishes the equality between all instruments needed for a composition to be aptly titled Concerto for Orchestra Because the 286Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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129 work thus far provided little so lo attention to the percussi on, an enormous contrast is immediately present at the commencement of this movement. Higdons exclusive scoring for strings in the second movement and percussion in th e fourth enhances the ar ch-form structure. In addition, the two particular movements occupy si milar durations that minister in balancing the elaborate and lengthier full orchestral movements. On the Pittsburgh Symphonys web-site, Hi gdon explains her motivation for the unorthodox percussion scoring. I di d this because the percussion se ction is the on e section of the orchestra that has developed th e most in the twentieth century. Its the one se ction that has added instruments, and the skill of the players has probably developed more than in any other section. I decided to make a movement which woul d have the quietest sounds in this entire piece in the percussion.287 An additional rationale for the movement was simply because Don Liuzzi the timpanist want ed to play percussion.288 Although a fairly diverse number of percussive instruments have already been displaye d periodically in movements one and three, the complete inventory listed in the pr eface to the score is explored in greater detail in the fourth movement. The fourth movement bears the slowest tempo of the entire composition (quarter note=42). In doing so, Higdon provides an opportunity to sa vor the multiple timbres still unfamiliar to many an ear. The movement begins with pitc hed instruments played by a bow. Higdon states, Notice the percussionists beginni ng when theyre bowing their instruments, something that the 287Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra, (Accessed [7 July 2006] http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/p ghsymph.nsf/concert+listings/22DD934D488A89548525703500670D45?ope ndocument. 288Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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130 string player would normally do.289 By referring to a technique commonly associated with strings, this statement implies a plausible su bconscious connection between movements two and four. Regarding this possible a ssociation, the composer remarks, I hadnt thought of that. It could very well be. Im not the first to use bow(ing for percussi onists). I proba bly stole that from George Crumb. All of us were doing it at Penn when we were studying and I did it in blue cathedral in the vibes. It worked so well that I thought, What would it be liketo have a bunch of percussionists doing that? so it was a curi osity of sound. When I originally wrote it, I actually had written that they (t he percussionists) should let (the sound) vibrate through. But in the dress rehearsal, Sawallisch (said), We shoul d stop the sound and make it clearer and that was the right decision. It sounds better, not the wa y I originally wrote it so I changed it. Its more work for the percussionists but it clears out the chords enough that you can hear them. When they were ringing through, it was noisy.290 The rationale behind Higdons choice of a soft dynamic and slow tempo to open the movement is due in part to Sawallisch. The com poser states, He just didnt want percussion so I (thought), If I write really slow at the beginn ing and its really quiet maybe hell be convinced by it. It actually worked. That became one of hi s more favorite movements. He didnt want to rehearse that movement; in fact he di dnt rehearse it until the dress rehearsal.291 The composer purposely scored the opening of the fourth movement for bowed percussion to convince Sawallisch of the possibilities within this diverse section. I wanted him to hear that not all 289Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra, (Accessed [7 July 2006] http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/p ghsymph.nsf/concert+listings/22DD934D488A89548525703500670D45?ope ndocument. 290Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 291Ibid.

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131 percussion was loud. (The goal was) to make it mysterious. Its like the string opening in the third movementI wanted to do the same thing with the percussion to make the audience kind of lean in a little and figure out what the sound was.292 Higdon recalls that the percussi onists were delighted to have a movement featuring their instruments exclusively. She comments, The perc ussionists were so pr oud of having their own movement. I finished that movement a whole year before the premiere so I gave them the music saying, Tell me, can you do all this? They passed the parts around (and) said its do-able, its hard but its do-able. I was su rprised that movement worked better than I thought it would.293 So enamored with the music of this moveme nt, the percussionists encouraged Higdon to transcribe the score for percussion ensemble.294 The composer features the instruments in a systematic fashion. Beginning with pitched instruments, a small transitional passage leads to scoring for non-pitched instruments. This alternation of instruments is comparable to the second movements rotation from pizzicato to arco Higdon found this movement to be particularly difficult to compose due to the fact that she had to find a convincing way to go from pitched to non-pitched instruments and that was hard. The wood-blocks were kind of my in -between. Really, it was difficult.295 Intensity is gradually increased by an acceler ation of the tempo in phases, a comparison she likens to a Victrola296 being wound up.297 The composer comments, It was kind of 292Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 293Ibid. 294Although the composer had not originally considered this option, she plans to do so in the future. Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 295Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 296A Victrola is a trademark term for a phonograph.

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132 dangerous doing just percussion in the fourth movement causeif its a concerto for orchestra, its the orchestra. I also was fascinated to s ee if I could speed the or chestra up cause I didnt know any other piece that did it quite that way so I thought, This ll probably (be) the last time Ill ever be asked to write an orchestra piece, so le ts throw that in. Let me see if I can actually make that happen. Part of it was actually just a compositional challenge.298 David Patrick Stearns remarked that this movement reminded him of the Sixth Symphony of Danish composer, Carl Nielsen (1865-1931).299 Stearns adds no additional commentary regarding the similarities between Higdons composition and Nielsens Sixth Symphony subtitled Sinfonia semplice (1924-5).300 Rather than the works of Nielsen, Higdon pictured the extended drum cadences of marching bands during the compositional process.301 She further comments on Stearns statements, I dont even know the Nielsen symphonies. Davids my neighbor; he lives next door to me. I s hould ask him, What the hell were you writing?302 When asked specifically about the potential connection to Nielsens sixth symphony and the timpani battle, Higdon states, I didnt know that actually, I only know the Nielsen Flute Concerto and I barely remember that from when I studied it. I dont know any of the Nielsen 297Nick Jones, jacket notes, Jennifer Higdon, City Scape/Concerto for Orchestra Cond. Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Telarc 80620. 298 Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape r ecording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 299David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms=j enni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet. 300David Fanning, Carl Nielsen, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [19 July 2006]), 301David Patrick Stearns, Jennifer Higdon, Andante Corporation June 2002 (Accessed [5 June 2006]), available from http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id= 17341&highlight=1&timeline=1&highlightterms =jenni%2A%7Chig do%2A&lstKeywords=Jennifer%20Higdon; Internet. 302Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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133 symphonies at all. I didnt thi nk of it as a battle, I was thinki ng in terms of marching band. I played percussion in marching band and I thought, Wouldnt it be funny to have a little tribute to marching band in there? I love watching the audience in that part.303 The fourth movements opening texture is homophonic and, as me ntioned earlier, the musicians are playing the instru ments with a bow. The timpanist and the second percussionist are instructed to play the vibraphones while the fi rst and third percussionist s are stationed at the crotales. Commencing immediatel y with the first pitch, a prominent stylistic element of the composer is prevalent: the inte rval of a perfect fifth separate s the vibraphone lines and also constitutes the distance between the crotales. Throughout the opening measures, an abundance of musical directions are notated by the composer. Exceptionally specific dynamics ar e employed within a brief time span that continually grow louder from mezzo piano to forte Quick and striking contrasts in volume are atypical of Higdons orchestral music; th e composer tends to favor long, extended crescendi culminating in a blossoming orchestral sound. Du e to the various possibilities capable with percussion instruments, however, such explicit ma rkings are essential. This opening provides the quietest volume of the entire composition, an unexpected occurrence due to the often erroneous stereotype of percussion instruments pe rforming at a high decibel level. (Figure 4-21) Entering in measure 6, the harp sounds separa te, perfect melodic fifth intervals from the percussionists opening that furthe r expose Higdons affinity for this interval. Punctuations of open fifths continue in the music of the four percussionists beneath the fluid harp. Throughout this intervallic activity, tiny mel odic fragments in the celesta commence a dialogue with the first 303Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006.

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134 percussion crotales part. Because these melodic fragments are extremely concise and similar, the musical lines are not independent; the celesta simply echoes the crotales. Figure 4-21. Concerto for Orchestra IV, mm. 1-5.304 The harp continues to arpeggiate perfect fift h intervals in measure 10 while the percussion section expands to incor porate a more diverse array of inst ruments including the small and large triangle and the glockenspiel. Du ring this passage, a new dialo gue ensues between the celesta and the vibraphones consisting of additional para llel fifths. The celestas answer to the vibraphone consists of separate parallel fifths in each hand th at creates a certain degree of harmonic complexity to the passage. This dial ogue extends to encompa ss a broader pitch range and continues until measure 20. In its longes t statement, the vibraphone sounds a chromatic descending scale in fifths in measure 17. Inde pendent from this percussive conversation, an additional fifth appears in measure 18 in the mar imba part that sounds continuous straight eighth notes on this interval. Undoubt edly, the parallel fifths in combination with this ostinato provide 304Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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135 the opening of the movement with a generous spri nkling of several of the composers individual tendencies. From its opening arpeggios, the harp sustains a C major tonality until measure 16 at which point similar figurations recur in Eb major. Once the Eb tona l center is established, the harp alternates between the major modes of Eb a nd C. The marimba reinforces these changing tonalities by outlining parallel harmonies. The primary focus of the pitched instruments thus far has remained on the perfect fifth interval. To avoid the possibility of the mu sic becoming stagnant or predictable, Higdon alternates the vibraphone and w ood block within the second perc ussionists part beginning in measure 20. This changing instrumentation an ticipates the eventual substitution of the vibraphone by the woodblock and facilitates th e transition from pitched to non-pitched instruments. Once the second pe rcussionist initially begins th is alternation, the fluctuation occurs at a faster rate. After several statem ents, the wood block become s more significant than the melodic vibraphone thus marking the beginni ng of a new instrumentation soon to permeate the entire ensemble. Between the alteration of ha rmonies in the harp and the constant shift of vibraphone and wood block in the second percus sionists part, the music is unified through departures and returns to opening material. Following the trail set by the second percus sionist, the timpanist (actually playing the glockenspiel) undergoes a similar transformati on. Beginning in measure 22, the musicians scoring changes to temple blocks which, along with the wood blocks, are instructed to play softly so as to enable the musical focus to remain on the melodic instruments. For the first time in the movement, the harp ut ters a melodic statement that lasts for only two bars in measure 24. What follows in meas ure 26, although brief, is characteristic of

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136 Higdons orchestral writing: the harp sounds homophonic intervals comprised of fourths and fifths. As stated previously, the tempo undergoes multiple accelerandi throughout the movement. The initial increase occurs in measure 29 with a new tempo in the following bar that places the quarter note at 60. The new tempo is accompanie d by a section that features only non-pitched instruments including the sizzle cymbal, the guir o, the vibraslap and eventually the snare drum. The highly complex rhythm is balanced by complete silence. Higdon scores one beat rests for all instruments to provide a welcome relaxation to the ever increasing intensity. The changes in tempo begin to occur more frequently and the next employment of an accelerando transpires at bar 42. With the quarter note now marked at 80, Higdon has nearly doubled the tempo from the opening. This section continues the focus on non-pitche d instruments with the exception of the piano. Due to the pianos rich history of cu ltivating melodies, it is surprising to find this instrument included in such a section. Higdon offsets this preconception, however, through her explicit directions in the score, use other hand to dampen st rings very close to hammerthe sound should be very dry.305 The piano part comprises single pitches of consecutive sixteenth notes in its lowest register. The resulting dry sound combined w ith the low range evokes a more percussive and non-pitched timbre. To furthe r increase the intensity, Higdon notates an extremely quick crescendo in the piano that carries the dynamics to its extremes from pianissimo to fortissimo within a single measure. In measure 45, the remaining musicians join the piano in a fortissimo dynamic. The high rhythmic complexity already attained is furt her complemented by a solo for the timpani. 305Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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137 Although the section remains centered upon non-pitched instruments, Higdons unusual orchestration does not allow the ti mpani and the piano to detract from the pivotal role of the remaining instruments. Another accelerando appears in measure 50 and the quarter note is increased to 90 in the subsequent measure. Another fast crescendo is employed by the percussionists combined with a change in texture that incor porates brief occurrences of ho mophonic unity beginning in measure 51. These instances provide a succinct moment of relaxation to the high rhythmic tension created thus far. Higdon alters the instrument ation by introducing the tom-toms and the floor tom-toms. To instill additional prominence to non-pitched instruments, the piano is omitted and the timpani no longer presents soloistic material. Throughout this section, the composer utilizes frequent dynamic contrasts that span the gamut of sound possibilities, a tr ait that remains unusual in her orchestral scoring but fu rther explores the various capab ilities of the percussion section. Measure 64 includes non-traditiona l scoring for the timpanist a nd the first percussionist by having them play rim of drum.306 Although the composer would never be considered avantgarde, she clearly understands th e investigational nature of this philosophy and conducts her own experiments through brief moments of unorthodox instrumental techniques. An introduction of the final set of percussive instruments begins in measure 72 and includes castanets, maracas and sandpaper blocks. The maracas play a consistent eighth-note rhythm (similar to the marimba in measure 18) while the castanets have a syncopated ostinato (Figure 4-22) These rhythms remain consistent until the final bars of the movement further revealing the composers penchant for ostinati 306Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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138 As previously noted, the fourth movement leads attacca to the full orchestral, final movement. Higdon achieves a seam less transition by introducing new ostinato passages in the coda of the percussion movement that continue into the subsequent movement. Because each percussion line figures prominently in this transi tion, discussion of each of their lines separately will facilitate a more thorough comprehension. Figure 4-22. Concerto for Orchestra IV, mm. 72-74.307 The castanets continue their previous ostinato pattern from measure 72 that repeats in two measure intervals. The rhythm changes to c onsecutive sixteenth notes in bar 89 accompanied by a forte dynamic that increases the rhyt hmic intensity and heightens the anticipation of the final movement. In the opening measure of the fift h movement, the castanets occur less frequently before becoming tacet altogether by measure 2. Th is instruments main role, therefore, is to increase tension and rhythmic drive while the other percussionists provide the primary unification between the two movements. Similar to the castanets, the maraca continues its own rhythm from measure 72. The final three bars of the fourth movement replace the maraca with the tom-toms and initiate a more 307Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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139 rhythmically complex pattern. It is the latter instrumentation and new ostinato that function as the transition between movements and remain s unceasing until measure 5 of the finale. As expected, the sand paper blocks, played by th e first percussionist, follow a related path that continues a rhythmic ostinato pattern before changing immediat ely to the transition proper. Beginning in measure 91, the connec ting link to the finale is pres ented through a separate thirtysecond note rhythm. (Figure 4-23) The first percu ssionist along with the timpanist present their respective motives more extensively; both remain tr ue to their transitional material until measure 16 of the finale. Figure 4-23. Concerto for Orchestra IV, mm. 91-95.308 During the transitional passage, the timpanists part does not employ the strict repetition of the ostinato that characterized the music of the three percussionists. Because the timpani is a pitched instrument, the transition combines r hythmic and melodic material; however, neither conforms to a strict pattern and a systema tic ordering of these fundamentals remains less 308Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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140 prevalent. In measure 91, a c onsistent rhythmic and intervalli c content emerges that links the two movements yet the patterns va ry considerably after the initi al transition has been achieved. Forte dynamics close the fourth movement while the finale opens immediately with a more subdued marking of mezzo piano Regarding this sudden change, Higdon remarks, Its interesting when you go into the fifth moveme nt, I originally had loud dynamics in the percussion (but) that didnt work. I had to have them come down to piano to clear out for the strings. That was changed in the rehearsals.309 Because the musical material that connects th e final two movements are similar and played attacca (a radical notion according to the composer),310 this dynamic contrast does not supply reassurance that the finale ha s began. Higdon has masterfully crafted a seamless transition and only after the syncopated entran ce of the violins doe s it become obvious that a new movement has commenced. As mentioned previously, unify ing material abounds in Higd ons orchestral compositions that establishes brief moments of familiarity to th e listener. The composer turns to this approach in the finale by incorporating musical material from previ ous movements that provides a convincing summation. In fact, the final moveme nt may be considered a coda to the entire composition. Higdon responds to this theory, It is. It had to be something that wrapped everything up. I also want(ed) some swing in that last movement, too but I knew the conductor who was 82 wouldnt exactly be able to swing so I had to figure out a way to write it so that it would swing on its ownalthough its kind of hard to say because I wrote that first movement 309Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape recording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 310Ibid.

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141 last. I know that everything in my brain wa s connected from the previous movements though cause thats just the way my brain works.311 The opening measures of the finale continue to build the intensity from the previous movement through unison violin scoring marked forte above the percussion ostinati Beginning in measure 4, a reference to earlier musical ma terial arises. The cello line alternates arco and pizzicato techniques that reca ll the similar dichotomy of string sounds present in the second and third movement. (Figure 4-24) Figure 4-24. Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 1-5.312 The bassoons enter in measure 10 with a trill that encompasses vast dynamic contrasts in only two beats. Immediately following in m easure 11, the oboes and flutes sound descending melodic fragments in imitation. These fragment s persist until measure 23 and provide a musical balance to the woodwinds ascendi ng figures so abundant in the first movement. In the opening 311Jennifer Higdon, interview by author, tape re cording, Atlanta, Ga., 19 September 2006. 312Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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142 of the finale, therefore, an accumulation of r ecurring musical material is presented: the continuation of the ostinato percussion patterns, the alternation of string techniques in the celli, the wide dynamic contrasts of the bass oons and the imitative woodwind passages. Following the cessation of the percussion ostinati in measure 16, Higdon supplies a new repeating bass pattern in the celli and basses. Unre lated to the material in the percussion, this progression continues until measure 23. The incorporation of two separate ostinati reveals the composers inclination towards this compositiona l device and is perhaps nowhere more apparent than this opening section of the finale. A section featuring several prominent woodw ind soli begins in measure 24. Unlike the preceding movements that incorporated extensive so lo material, such presentations in the finale are greatly reduced in length. It is interesting to note that in th e three movements that featured the full ensemble, the initial soli are presented by woodwi nds. Beneath the woodwinds, a significant pattern for marimba and glockenspiel emerges that reappears throughout the finale. (Figure 4-25) In the initial pr esentation, these percu ssion instruments alternate the pitches of B and Bb that recall the tonal ambi guity of the second movement. The piano and harp assist in developing this harmonic environment through thei r perpetual sounding F that functions as the fifth to the Bb and the augmented fourth to the B natural.313 Following the brief appearance of woodwinds the strings reenter in measure 28 with musical material from measure 16 of the finale transposed a major second higher. This passage returns in measure 34 transposed up a minor th ird from the preceding presentation. The timpani also participate in reminiscences of earlier mo tives by continuously restating a rhythmic figure 313The use of fifth intervals within Hidgons style need no further explanation but the tri-tone is used more infrequently. Although not generally part of the composers orchestral style, the latter interval retains a significant place in this composition due to its pivotal role ascrib ed by Higdon in the openi ng of the composition.

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143 that dominated the transition between movements four and fi ve. Finally, the marimba and glockenspiel return to the example discussed ab ove and follows the transposition pattern of the strings. The sequencing of ear lier musical material at steadily rising pitches increases the momentum and in addition, incorporates the use of rising pitch, a charac teristic prevalent to earlier movements of this composition. Figure 4-25. Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 24-26.314 Higdon features the violins in measure 32 and as seen with the w oodwinds, the length of the soli are drastically reduced. Within this section, the violin soli ar e disrupted by the rising sequences of the entire string section. The sol o is comprised of four violinists from each section sounding descending major chords in ho mophonic texture. Between the two groups of soloists, the chords are sepa rated by a major second. An accelerando appears in measure 38, the first to be utilized within the finale but clea rly a continuing idea from the fourth movement. Once the new tempo (quarter note=120) takes eff ect in measure 42, no release is provided as the music continues its prescribed path of dramatic bravura. This separate passage in measure 42 offers both new and returning material. Joining the orchestra for the first time since the third move ment, the brass re-enters in a harmonic idiom favored by the composer. The trumpets and trombones sound major chords separated by the 314Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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144 interval of a second. The violin soloists conti nue to play their respec tive chords but remain independent of the brass. The pattern is qui ckly monopolized by the brass, however, when the violins become tacet in measure 44. The major c hords in the trumpet and the trombone serve as an extension of the harmonic intensity initia lly begun in the strings; Higdon has successfully transferred the existing material to a new timbre. Beneath this relocation of major chords, separate ostinato patterns begin in the viola, the vibraphone and the snare. Although melodical ly and rhythmically independent of the transitional patterns utilized in movements f our and five, the employment of percussion instruments for a repeating rhythmic idea vaguely recalls their earlier function in opening the finale. The composer directs the viola section to sound their ostinato angrily. Such markings are used sparingly within the oeuvre of Hi gdons orchestral compositions but do occur as witnessed in the openi ngs of the third and fourth movements. Beginning in measure 52, the tonal environmen t of the second movement is evoked. For eight consecutive beats, the left hand of the pia no, the viola and celli al ternate quickly between the pitches of B and F. (Figure 4-26) In measur e 58, the pattern returns an octave higher and is heard only in the right hand of the piano. (The significance of these pitches was explained previously in the discussion of a similar harmoni c idiom found in the piano and percussion lines in measure 24 of the finale). Following this brief reminiscence, the pianist (d oubled by the strings) plays separate major chords in each hand that are separated by the in terval of a major second. Not only does this bitonality in measure 60 recall earlier harmonic pa tterns but is equally meaningful in comparison to the celesta line in bar 13 of the fourth move ment. The open fifth intervals separated by a

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145 major second in the celesta are unified profoundly to the finales piano part since a single musician performs both parts. Figure 4-26. Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 52-53.315 In measure 65, an accelerando is employed while the chords in the piano and strings continue to rise in pitch. Hi gdon describes this drive as the music moving up and forward through the orchestra getting faster and faster316 but also maintains the concept of rising sounds featured prominently throughout the entire compos ition. The new tempo in measure 67 is marked quarter note=138-142. Immediately th e trumpets re-enter to double the strings and right hand of the piano in a prolongation of the major chord passage. A new melodic idea is introduced in the second violins in measure 69 that closely mirrors the tom-toms rhythm. The latter plays consiste nt sixteenth notes to substantiate a rhythmic ostinato The second violins utilize a similar r hythm but the line is more melodic and interspersed generously with rests. In both th e percussion and the second violins, the pattern persists until measure 83. Fo llowing a brief interruption, the s econd violins melodic pattern returns in measure 101 in the lo wer strings with additional comp lexity. The viola and celli present this material in ra pid polyphonic exchanges. 315Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002). 316Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Higdon talks about her Concerto for Orchestra, (Accessed [7 July 2006] http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/pghsymph.n sf/concert+listings/22DD934D488A895485257 3500670D45?open document.

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146 Beneath the second violins in measure 73, the alternation of pizzicato and arco in the celli and bass returns the music to the dichotomy expl ored in the second movement. Significantly, all pizzicato markings in this section are scored as snap pizzicato a scoring used most prominently for the final pitch of the second movement. In measure 83, the strings continue to re flect upon the second movement. Although sounding a single pitch, the tutti strings are instructed to play col legno battuto When battuto is paired with col legno the execution is accomplished through a gentle tapping on the string by the wood of the bow. The actual meaning of batutto however is a musical term found in the seventeenth and eighteenth centu ries to describe guitar strumming317 and therefore is akin to the second movements marking of ala guitara The icing on the proverbial cake to this continuation of previ ous musical ideas is found in the soli for viola and celli. Each section requi res three players to sound ascending major chords that are reminiscent of the rising sounds featur ed throughout all five movements. Of course, utilizing moving major chords is frequent in Higdons compositions yet the specific scoring for viola and celli specifically recalls similar orchestr ation in the third moveme nt. It also merits mentioning that the distance between the celli an d viola soli is the reappearing major second interval. Although brief, this solo passage is instantly recognizable from a similar context of the third movement and hence, unifies the mystical movement with the finale. The percussionists simultaneously reminisce on the fourth movement through the scoring of like timbres. Percussionists one and two are inst ructed to play the rim of the drum (seen in measure 65 of the preceding movement). In the finale, the parameters are less constricting and 317No author, Battuto, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [20 July 2006]),

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147 Higdon designates that any drum will suffice.318 (A third percussionist is later added with an identical instruction). The sand paper blocks, scored only in the fourth movement, re-enter during this section that also re call the aforementioned passage of the fourth movement. The section closes with an accelerando in measure 91 that increases the quarter note to 142-150. In measure 93, the harp presents a figure that di rectly correlates to the marimba in measure 24. When the pattern first appeared (originally pair ed with the glockenspiel), it served to recall the tonal ambiguity of the second movement. Af ter re-orchestration and transposition, however, the pattern is not only a harmonic reminder of the string movement but a unifying device that links the diverse sections of the finale. (Figure 4-27) Th e piano, reminiscing on its own previous patterns, re-enters by al ternating the B and F pitches h eard previously in measures 52 and 58 in varied rhythmic presentations. Figure 4-27. Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 91-96.319 An association to the second movement is f ound in the reappearing st ring soli in measure 93 that employs pizzicato and arco techniques. In a Concerto for Orchestra solo opportunities abound for an individual section and these timbres were explored also in the third movement as well as previous sections of the finale. Conti nuing the trend in the fifth movement of succinct 318 The instructive play rim of any drum is comparable to the similar marking of the timpani in measure 66 of the fourth movement which reads, whichever drum is convenient. --Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: La wdon Press, 2002). 319Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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148 solo moments, the passage lasts for only 8 meas ures yet much musical material is included within this brief time span. Imitative and homophonic textures combine with pizzicato markings to recall earlier moments in the composition. In measure 101, the strings return to tutti scoring while the aforementioned second violin pattern from measure 69 returns in the viola and the celli. Unlike the initial seed from which this motive blossomed, the pitch content now centers on the notes B and F.320 The resulting sound has developed upon the earlier motive in several ways. Not only does the musical material recall the previous violin motive but the additional emphasis on the two important pitches refers to various moments of harmonic instability ragi ng throughout the composition. The momentum increases exponentially through a complex dialo gue between the two instruments in rapid imitation. To further emphasize the returning mate rial of measure 69, the horns transpose their previous material from the same place in meas ure 107. In addition, the piano and glockenspiel play various descending melodic fourth intervals which continue to hold a significant position within Higdons compositions. Measure 118 commences the next change in te mpo that increases th e quarter note to 160180. After a plethora of accelerandi sprinkled throughout the fourth and fifth movements, this final increase places the tempo at twice the initial speed of the finales opening. Due to the continuous intensity and exciteme nt in the final movements, an ticipation mounts for a riveting conclusion that Higdon delivers through an explosi on of instrumental color. Maintaining the trend set thus far throughout the finale, the closin g section continues to develop musical material from preceding movements resulting in a captivating and breathless conclusion. 320Although the second violins in measure 69 initially sounded a Bb frequently, as the motive progressed, a pattern evolving around a singular pitch was noticeably absent. The subs equent presentation of the similar figurations appearing in measure 101, therefore, has expanded in harmonic complexity.

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149 Beginning in measure 118, Higdons ch aracteristic employment of an ostinato returns in the bass clarinet, celli and double bass that emphasi ze the pitches of B, Bb and F. This not only revisits the composers pencha nt of a fifth interval (and its inversion) but continues the importance of these notes that have been manipulated consistently throughout the composition. Although less prominent, the viola lines counter melody also places a degree of significance on the pitches B and F that continue to declare th eir intervallic importance. Simultaneously, the glockenspiel and piano span the harmonic gamut but continue the incorporat ion of perfect fourth and fifth intervals in various gui ses. The trumpets resume in measure 118 after a prolonged silence and the sudden entry provides exuberance to an already electrifying aural palette. One may reasonably anticipate the composers characte ristic major chord progression in the trumpets orchestration, yet the triads are varied. Although the majority of the chords are indeed major, Higdon includes augmented and even minor chords that result in fresh sounding music combined with a sense of familiarity. In measure 134, the harp and marimba recall the original duet in measure 24 that resurged earlier in measure 93. In the final presentation of this material, Higdon combines the timbres of the two previous appearances to produce an out come that is recognizab le yet innovative. The ongoing experimentation of instrumental color displays once again, th e composers great emphasis on the joy of sound. (Figure 4-28) In measure 140, an entire earlier section is recalled while simultane ously placing emphasis on the pitches of B & F. The woodwinds, string s, piano and vibraphone sound various patterns of these notes that resemble the material in measure 52. The connection to the corresponding earlier passage is further stre ngthened through an identical ma jor chord progression sounded by

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150 the trumpets while the trombones vary only sligh tly. This inventive use of orchestration effectively transports the music of th e finale to an ear lier segment. Figure 4-28. Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 135-141.321 In measure 151, the piano and second violins re turn to the alterna ting figure initially presented in measure 52. Rather than shif ting between B and F, however, Higdon uses the pitches of G and Db. Although a mere transpositi on, this passage foreshadows the final tonality of the work. Beginning in measure 153, the pian o and the bassoons introduce a forte motive consisting of accented melodic eighth notes that lasts precise ly one measure. (Figure 4-29) This brief rhythmically driven line returns an additional two times interspersed with harmonically calm sections. As quickly as it appeared, the motiv e suddenly vanishes by measure 162 only to appear again in the concluding measures. In placement only, this resembles the concertmasters solo 321Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA: Lawdon Press, 2002).

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151 from movement three that presented a solo line once before reiterating the idea in the final measures of its respective movement. In the fina le, however, this assertive piano motive is offset by interruptions by the ensemble of a harmonically stable environment consisting of major chords. The orchestration of doublestops in the strings and the doubled piano part is reminiscent of the earlier passage of the finale in measure 60. The latter utilized bitona lity, while in this brief moment of recall the chords are in unison. An additional relationship to measure 60 occurs in the woodwinds. Initially scored as imitative ascending and descending s calar passages, this subsequent appearance retains a similar melodi c content but with less complexity due to a homophonic texture. Figure 4-29. Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 151-154.322 The orchestration in measure 154, therefore, results in a vagu e feeling of dj vu yet the music neither returns harmonically nor texturally to its initial appearance. The entire passage, however, anticipates the proper re turn of the bitonal section u pon its triumphant entrance in measure 162. After measures of alluding to this occurrence, Hi gdons eventual arrival to this destination presents a dazzling artistic climax. The strings offer a brief reprie ve from their bitonal language in measure 164 to recall the opening bars of the third movement. This re turning musical idea consisting of a descending, 322Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra, (Philadelphia, PA: La wdon Press, 2002).

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152 expressive portamento figure followed by a pizzicato pitch that figured prominently throughout the mystical movement; thus, it is not surprising that the composer references this material in the finale. Rather than the standard pizzicato to end the portamento figures, Higdon scores a snap pizzicato This seemingly slight modification re mains significant as a unifying device due to its earlier appearances in the second and fift h movements. (Figure 4-30) Lasting only two measures, the strings quickly resume their previous bitonal material. Figure 4-30. Concerto for Orchestra V, mm. 164-165.323 In measure 166, the woodwinds proclaim th eir return to independence through the innovative use of an earlier motive in the finale. Initially found in the second violins extended line in measure 72 and subsequently in the lowe r strings in measure 101, this motive reappears greatly truncated with continuous imitation to present a highly manipulated adaptation of the original. The transformation of this material into a multifarious texture combined with a stark 323Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra, (Philadelphia, PA: La wdon Press, 2002).

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153 contrast in timbre assumes a new character that is decidedly more complex than even its previous statement in the polyphonic lower strings. Undoubtedl y, the result is the pinnacle of this musical idea through its abundan ce in complexity. The first and third horns recall their previous material in measure 69 to reinforce the recollection of the passage disc ussed above. Unlike the woodwi nds, however, the material does not bear an orchestration change ; rather, the horns explore the e nd of their own motive from this earlier passage. Higdon does not simply restate the material but incorporates considerable variation through rhythmic alte ration before culminating in a polyphonic dialogue with the second and fourth horns in measure 173. The final measures of the composition persist in featuring earlier musical material in an el aborate and fully orchestrated conclusion. As expected of a multi-movement work for large ensemble, all instrumental forces combine to end the composition. In measure 181, the unison strings commence a brief stepwise ascension and upon subsequent repetitions, begins the pattern on a higher pitch. After only two full presentations, the passage is truncated yet continues the rise in pitch appearing at faster intervals to enhance the intensity. The incorporation of ri sing sounds is significant in this conclusion and its frequent appearances in the previous movements have already been noted previously. The steady increase in momentum provided by the st rings is additi onally developed through frequent meter changes and a c onsistent rhythm in the timpani. In measure 181, the piano return s to thick textured major c hords that are doubled in the wind and brass instruments. The bitonality freque ntly employed in similar passages is noticeably absent in preparation for a harm onious conclusion. These chords do not encompass a discernible pattern but the progression in measure 183 (B b-F#-B-F#) remains noteworthy due to the significance of the pitches. One may reasonably an ticipate an answer to this harmonic ambiguity

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154 that dominated the composition yet the composer does not offer any solutions and in the end, opts for an unforeseen tonality altogether. In the final bars, Higdon conti nues to recall musical material from the fifth movement. In measure 186, the piano returns to its earlier aggressive rhythmic motive originally found in bar 153. Heard only once, this reminiscence is brie f but fulfills the purpose of transporting the music. The final recollection of previous musical content occurs in the timpani in the penultimate measure. Although brief, the sign ificance is momentous. The timpani sound an interval of an augmented fourth that alludes to the initial presentation of the tritone in the opening measures of the first movement. This interval maintained a prominent role throughout the entire opening movement and with the incorp oration of this interval in the conclusion the composer has successfully brought the enti re work full circle. (Figure 4-31) With the exception of the percussion, the full ensemble sounds the final major chord progression (G-G-G-F-G). Curiously, the work c oncludes on a G major chor d, a tonality that has not been utilized significantly. Due to the pr ominence placed on the pitches of B, Bb and F throughout the five movements, the final key center is quite unexpected. The keen observer will notice, however, that this was foreshadowed brie fly in measure 151 in the alternating pitches of G and Db. This pattern originated in measures 52 and returned in 140 with the a lternating notes of B and F. The transposition of this material in measure 151 is vi tal. During this passage, the rationale for a new key center may appear uncle ar especially since th e pitches of B and F remained essential throughout the work. Only af ter the composition ends in this new tonality does it become clear that this brief moment was prophesying the conclusion.

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155 Figure 4-31. Concerto for Orchestra V, mm.186-189.324 Since the premiere of this work in 2002, Higdons Concerto for Orchestra has garnered performances by several of th e United States leading symph onies including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony a nd the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Although this composition contains many of the el ements that contributed to the success of blue cathedral it remains unclear why Concerto for Orchestra is programmed less frequently. This author can only postulate on possible reasons for such an omission. One undeniable obstacle is that the severe technical demands of this work far exceed those of blue cathedral Although this may account for the lack of performances by seco nd tier orchestras, this rationale is hardly applicable to the nations leadi ng ensembles. Commenting on this specific issue, Higdon states, I think the primary reason Blue Cathedral has so many performances is because it's a smaller work in duration and instrumentation, and that makes it easier to program the work at the 324Jennifer Higdon, Concerto for Orchestra, (Philadelphia, PA: La wdon Press, 2002).

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156 beginning of the concert (It fits a standard conc ert format of opener, concerto, but old symphony at the end). Duration is the prime factor. Also, it's not nearly as hard as the Concerto for Orchestra whi