Among the Grammy winners this year was Jennifer Higdon, a Philadelphia-based composer whose Percussion Concerto received the award for best new contemporary classical recording on Sunday. [2008 recording on Spotify here, ed.]
Local classical music fans may recall that Higdon, a longtime friend of Harrisburg Sympony Orchestra conductor Stuart Malina, was in the audience when HSO performed the amazing new work at The Forum in March 2008.
They may also recall the sustained standing ovation given to principal percussionist Christopher Rose, only the second person to perform the work. Rose moved purposefully around the stage, playing some 20 instruments, including drums, cymbals, gongs, marimba, xylophone and a variety of other noise-making gadgets.
“When I first heard it,” Malina said, “I thought here is a very rare case where a percussion concerto isn’t just about showing off a bunch of instruments. It has a really strong role for the orchestra.”
Malina has been friends with Higdon since the late ’80s, when they met as students at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, where Higdon now teaches. The Percussion Concerto, recorded by percussionist Colin Currie and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is the third of her works to earn a Grammy.