Jennifer Higdon's blue cathedral will make its first appearance tonight on the program of the SF Symphony (at Flint in Cupertino, tomorrow through Saturday at Davies Symphony hall, along with a Mozart piano concerto and Debussy's Iberia); which comes at a surprise to us since we heard about her so much, from chamber music, to concertos. Indeed, our own SF Opera commissioned an opera from her for 2013. So we jumped on this opportunity to phone her up.
She's a classical music composer, born in 1962 in Brooklyn, NY, but grew up in Tennessee, before settling in Philly. Thus the charming Southern drawl when she speaks, which you can listen to in this other interview here. Don't believe the South is some kind of high art backwater: we loved this interview, and this anecdote in particular, of her attending some performance in Atlanta where a guy in black attempted to catch white feathers fanned from the stage side onto his outfit covered in glue, but only managed to OD on the glue high. That's art we'd pay to see.
Anyhow, while her music could not be more different (mostly tonal, even Neoromantic says Wikipedia), she followed Philip Glass's advice: "If you want to make a living as a composer, keep the rights to your pieces," and has been self-publishing her scores. So she knows of every performance of her works, and has the --impressive-- stats at the ready: she's everywhere, it's about time we get to hear some orchestra piece from her.