Dobrinka Tabakova was born in 1980. But she has gained a huge following and many commissions for compositions in her short time as a composer. Born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, her talent was recognized very early. She won the Jean-Frederic Perrenoud Prize of the 4th International Competition of Music in Vienna when she was only 14 years old. Schooled in England, Tabakova was taught by Simon Bainbridge, John Adams, Iannis Xenakis and many others.
Tabakova’s music is definitely tonal. Many of her works utilize long flowing melodic lines, with harmonies reminiscent of early Minimalism. Her music is, at times, atmospheric – creating a mood of longing and nostalgia. There is currently only one compact-disc of Tabakova’s work available, but that will surely change soon.
March is Women’s History month. WUOL will take this opportunity to present a blog series on women composers, beginning with Jennifer Higdon.
Jennifer Higdon is one of the most-performed American composers in concert halls today – male or female. In the 2008-09 season, Ms. Higdon had 49 performances of her large-scale orchestral works, putting just behind John Adams. Her Concerto for violin and orchestra won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in music. Her orchestral work blue cathedral is one of the most performed contemporary orchestral works and has received more than 400 performances worldwide since its premiere in 2000. The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia have recently commissioned Higdon to write an opera based upon the best-selling novel, “Cold Mountain”, by Charles Frazier.
Born in Brooklyn in 1962, Higdon spent her first 10 years in Atlanta before moving to Tennessee. She took up the flute and was largely self-taught. In college she majored in flute performance but her interest quickly turned to composing. Higdon’s musical stylings could be referred to as neo-romantic. Her works are mostly tuneful with a bit of atonality at times. Musicians and audiences seem to appreciate her music as it is well-represented in concerts all over the world.
Enjoy this performance of Jennifer Higdon’s most popular work blue cathedral:
This Saturday’s New York Philharmonic broadcast will be an adventurous concert with Ives’ Symphony No. 4 and NY Phil composer-in-residence Christopher Rouse’s Prospero’s Rooms. Joshua Bell joins the orchestra on Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium). Saturday at 9pm.
Operas with prominent characters of African heritage are many in history. But many were not initially sung by black artists.
Florence Cole Talbert-McCleave was the first African-American to sing the role of the Ethiopian princess Aida in 1924 in Italy. Gloria Davy (photo) was the first black American to play Aida at the Metropolitan Opera in 1958. Before that, the role was sung by non-blacks in dark makeup.
Another Verdi opera features a main character who’s black. The Moor Otello is still being sung by some non-black performers in blackface. The Shakespeare original has seen black actors own the role. Ira Aldridge played Otello in productions during the 1820′s. The most prolific Otello of our time is Placido Domingo, a Spaniard.
The English premiere of Koanga (1935) by Frederick Delius starred Australian caucasian John Brownlee and Russian diva Oda Slobodskaya in the principle roles. Now current productions always feature singers of African descent.
Enjoy this video of Leontyne Price who was perhaps the greatest Aida of the 20th century.