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UT’s School of Music will celebrate composer Jennifer Higdon—a native of Maryville, Tennessee, whose honors include both a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy award—during a series of concerts this month.

“A Celebration of Jennifer Higdon” will take place Friday, February 17, through Thursday, February 23, and will feature wind ensemble and symphony orchestra concerts as well as a guest artist lecture from Higdon. All events are free and open to the public.

Higdon will be a guest artist in residence for a week at the School of Music. She will be present at all events and will be working with the School of Music’s composition and theory students in a master class.

“The seeds of this residency were planted some years ago when Donald Ryder, our director of bands, went to school with Jennifer. It was a welcome starting point for a dialogue leading to this very exciting opportunity for the School of Music and the university as a whole,” said Andrew Sigler, assistant professor of music composition. “Jennifer is one of the most performed composers alive and as such is in great demand. We are honored and thrilled to have her here.”

Higdon taught herself to play flute at the age of 15 and began formal musical studies at 18. It wasn’t until the age of 21 that she began composing. Despite this late beginning, she has become a major figure in contemporary classical music and makes her living from commissions. These commissions represent a range of genres, including orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, and wind ensemble.

Because of her ties to East Tennessee, some of her pieces relate specifically to this region.

These events, all free and open to the public, will take place during the celebration:

  • Symphony Orchestra Concert—This ensemble concert will feature Higdon’s The Singing Rooms and Fanfare Ritmico with performances by UT Choirs and Geoffrey Herd on the violin from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, February 19, in the James R. Cox Auditorium of Alumni Memorial Building.
  • Chamber Music Recital—This faculty and guest artist recital will be at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 21, in the Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall of the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center. The concert will feature Wesley Baldwin on cello; Shelley Binder on flute; the UT Percussion Ensemble; and guest artists Sean Claire, on violin, and Melisa Barrick Baldwin, soprano.
  • Higdon Lecture—Higdon will speak at 12:40 p.m. on Thursday, February 23, in the Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center.
  • Wind Ensemble—This ensemble concert will feature Higdon’s Percussion Concerto, “Mysterium,” and “Kelly’s Field” with the Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, and soloist Andrew Bliss. It will take place at 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 23, in the James R. Cox Auditorium of Alumni Memorial Building.

For more information on “A Celebration of Jennifer Higdon,” visit the event’s page.


Landin Lynd (865-974-8935,

Catherine Willis (865-974-5013,