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.
The Frans Lanting Studio announced the London Premiere of the multimedia production of LIFE: A Journey Through Time, which will be performed for a special evening “Celebrating Our Planet,” on Sunday February 21, 2010, at London’s Barbican Centre.
Marin Alsop will conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in this new performance of LIFE, which features the imagery of Frans Lanting and the music of Philip Glass in a one-hour multimedia orchestral production that celebrates the splendor of life on Earth. LIFE interprets the history of life on our planet in seven movements, from its earliest beginnings to its present diversity, in a work that merges the photographic arts, science, and music. “Lanting’s majestic photographs dance lightly across a huge screen over the orchestra, while some of Glass’s most elegant music pulses underneath,” writes The Washington Post.
It’s a celebration of nature in all its glory.
Alsop, the Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted the world premiere of LIFE in Santa Cruz, California, in 2006, as well as subsequent performances in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and at New York’s Lincoln Center. Since its premiere, LIFE has been performed in major concert halls in both North America and Europe, and for celebrations including the Gala Opening of the World Science Festival in New York, the World Wilderness Congress in Merida, Mexico, and in Geneva, Switzerland, at the official ceremony to inaugurate CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the most powerful machine ever built to study the origins of the universe.