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Composer Jennifer Higdon set for Nemmers Prize residency

EVANSTON -- Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music welcomes Jennifer Higdon, winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, Oct. 15 to 20 for the first of two Nemmers Prize residencies.

One of America’s most frequently performed composers, Higdon is the recipient of a 2010 Pulitzer Prize and two Grammy Awards — one in 2010 for her Percussion Concerto and another in 2018 for her Viola Concerto. Her extensive list of commissioners includes the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as such ensembles as the Tokyo String Quartet, Lark Quartet, Eighth Blackbird and the President’s Own Marine Band.

The 2017-2018 concert season included the successful premiere of her Low Brass Concerto with the Chicago Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra, her Tuba Concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Harp Concerto for Yolanda Kondonassis with the Rochester Philharmonic and Harrisburg Symphony. Upcoming commissions include a chamber opera for Opera Philadelphia, a string quartet for the Houston-based Apollo Chamber Players, a double percussion concerto for the Houston Symphony, an orchestral suite for the “Made in America” project and a flute concerto for the National Flute Association’s 50th anniversary.

During her October residency, Higdon will coach Bienen School ensembles and chamber groups, conduct lessons and seminars with composition students, participate in an interdisciplinary panel discussion on the arts and attend performances by Bienen ensembles.

The schedule of public events is as follows:

Panel Discussion: LGBTQ+ in the Arts
Tuesday, Oct. 16, 6 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Higdon participates in a panel discussion moderated by E. Patrick Johnson, chair of African American Studies and Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University. Panelists include Higdon, stage director Amy Hutchison and art historian and author David Getsy. Discussion topics include the relationship of identity to creative output, inclusivity and discrimination within the arts, the role of the LGBTQ+ community in making progress toward equality and the role of arts presenters in representing LGBTQ+ artists and art. The discussion will be followed by a 15-minute Q&A. Admission is free.

Contemporary Music Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble
Thursday, Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston 

Conducted by Ben Bolter, the Contemporary Music Ensemble performs “Anthem” by George Lewis and “Dérive 2” by Pierre Boulez. The Percussion Ensemble gives a performance of Higdon’s “Like Clockwork,” composed for 12 percussionists. Tickets are $6 for the general public and $4 for students with valid ID. 

Symphonic Wind Ensemble
Friday, Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m.
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Led by Mallory Thompson, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble performs Steven Bryant’s “Radiant Joy,” Higdon’s “Mysterium” and Percussion Concerto and Adam Schoenberg’s “Migration” (Symphony No. 2). Joining them as soloist in Higdon’s Percussion Concerto is faculty percussionist She-e Wu. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with valid ID. 

Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra
Saturday, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Robert G. Hasty conducts the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra in a performance featuring Higdon’s “Peachtree Street,” Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 (“Jeremiah”) with mezzo-soprano soloist Gabrielle Barkidjija and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major (“Eroica”). Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with valid ID.

Concert tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at 847-467-4000 or in person at the Bienen School ticket office, located at the southeast entrance of Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, at 50 Arts Circle Drive in Evanston. Ticket office hours are Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m. 

The Bienen School of Music is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts. Search for events across all artistic disciplines at Northwestern Arts Circle.