Music Academy & Santa Barbara Symphony celebrate composer Jennifer Higdon

Composer Jennifer Higdon’s music celebrated in Santa Barbara: works to be premiered by Music Academy of the West and presented by the Santa Barbara Symphony

November 18, Higdon’s Song Cycle Wise Moon, commissioned by the Music Academy, to receive world premiere by Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners mezzo-soprano Sun-Ly Pierce and pianist Chien-Lin Lu in recital in Hahn Hall

February 19 and 20, 2022, Santa Barbara Symphony presents Higdon’s Grammy Award-winning Harp Concerto in the Granada Theatre

Pulitzer Prize winning composer Jennifer Higdon served as a judge of the Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition in 2019, in preparation for her commission to create a new work for the winners to premiere the following season. The pandemic delayed the premiere, which is now slated on the Winners Recital on Thursday, November 18 at 7 pm in Hahn Hall. Winners mezzo-soprano Sun-Ly Pierce and pianist Chien- Lin Lu, both three-time participants in the Academy’s Summer Festival, will perform a recital featuring Higdon’s new song cycle Wise Moon.

Jennifer Higdon is one of America’s most highly acclaimed and frequently performed living composers. She is a major figure in contemporary classical music, receiving the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, a 2010 Grammy for her Percussion Concerto, a 2018 Grammy for her Viola Concerto, and a 2020 Grammy for her Harp Concerto. The Music Academy presented the West Coast premiere of Higdon’s opera Cold Mountain in 2019.

Shortly after returning from my residency at the Music Academy, I was walking one evening in Philadelphia, and looked up to see a very bright moon gazing down on me. I thought about how that celestial body has always been present, watching silently, and inspiring everyone from poets penning lines to astronauts pushing the boundaries of space. And for this composer, it felt like a noble starting point for creating songs for these talented performers.

— Jennifer Higdon on her inspiration for composing Wise Moon

Jennifer Higdon will be present in Santa Barbara to coach the new song cycle and attend the performance. At a pre-concert Presidents’ Reception with Music Academy President and CEO Scott Reed and Santa Barbara Symphony President and CEO Kathryn Martin, Dr. Higdon will make remarks to supporters of both organizations. Higdon’s Grammy Award-winning Harp Concerto will be performed by the Santa Barbara Symphony on February 19 and 20, 2022 with Principal Harp Michelle Temple under the direction of Music Director Nir Kabaretti. Nine musicians on the Santa Barbara Symphony’s orchestra roster are Music Academy of the West alumni.

It is the opportune time to collaborate with the Santa Barbara Symphony to promote the artistry of one of our nation’s most performed living composers. Jennifer Higdon continues to make a personal and positive impact as a mentor to our alumni and in our community. We are inspired by her ability to connect stories to music.

— Scott Reed, Music Academy President & CEO


ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Jennifer Higdon is one of America’s most acclaimed and frequently performed living composers. She is a major figure in contemporary Classical music, receiving the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, a 2010 Grammy for her Percussion Concerto and a 2018 Grammy for her Viola Concerto, and a 2020 Grammy for her Harp Concerto. Most recently, Higdon received the Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University, given to contemporary classical composers of exceptional achievement who have significantly influenced the field of composition. Higdon enjoys several hundred performances a year of her works, and blue cathedral is today’s most performed contemporary orchestral works, with more than 650 performances worldwide. Her works have been recorded on more than sixty CDs, and her Percussion Concerto recording was recently inducted into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. Higdon’s first opera, Cold Mountain, won the prestigious International Opera Award for Best World Premiere. Dr. Higdon holds the Rock Chair in Composition at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. 

Alumna Sun-Ly Pierce (’19, ’20, ’21) is in her second season as a Studio Artist at Houston Grand Opera, where she will debut four new roles: Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette) directed by Tomer Zvulun; cover Blanche de la Force and sing Sister Mathilde (Dialogues des Carmélites) directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by music director Patrick Summers; Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte) in the Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade production under the baton of Jane Glover; and Mercédès (Carmen) led by Lidiya Yankovskaya.

Alumnus Chien-Lin Lu (’14, ’15, ’19) is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music (Chamber and Collaborative Music) and Postdoctoral Resident Scholar at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He received a doctorate at the University of Texas Butler School of Music. Chien-Lin was the winner of the 60th Corpus Christi International Music Competition and serves on staff for the Meadowmount School of Music.

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Harpist Michelle Temple was awarded the position of Principal Harp with the Santa Barbara Symphony in 1991. Enjoying frequent visits to her hometown, Michelle has also served as Principal Harp for Opera Santa Barbara for more than 15 years. She has been a member of Pacific Symphony, the third largest orchestra in California, since 1994.

EVENT INFORMATION

Marilyn Horne Song Competition Winners Recital
Thu, Nov 18, 7 pm

Hahn Hall, 1070 Fairway Road
Sun-Ly Pierce mezzo-soprano
Chien-Lin Lu piano
Tickets $55; $10 Community Access (on sale Nov 4); 7-17 Free
musicacademy.org/song

 

PROGRAM

CLAUDE DEBUSSY Chansons de Bilitis
HUGO WOLF Spanisches Liederbuch
WONJU LEE 이화우 (Yihwawoo Songbook)
JENNIFER HIGDON Wise Moon (world premiere, Music Academy commission)
ARNOLD SCHOENBERG Galathea
BENJAMIN BRITTEN Funeral Blues
ISABELLE ABOULKER Lettre d’amour
WILLIAM BOLCOM Amor

 

The Music Academy of the West Marilyn Horne Song Competition Recital is generously supported by Linda Seltzer Yawitz. 

Wise Moon was commissioned by Music Academy of the West with the generous support of Stephen Schaible and Daron Builta.


 

Santa Barbara Symphony
Beethoven in Bloom
Sat, Feb 19, 7:30 pm & Sun, Feb 20, 3 pm

Granada Theatre, 1214 State Street
Tickets: $156, $100, $71, $46, $31
Nir Kabaretti conductor
Michelle Temple Santa Barbara Symphony Principal Harp
thesymphony.org

 

PROGRAM

JEFF BEAL The Great Circle
JENNIFER HIGDON Harp Concerto
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, “Pastorale”


 

Kate Oberjat (she/her/hers)
Director of Marketing & Communications
Music Academy of the West
805‐695-7908 / [email protected]