Women’s History Month – Joan Tower


Joan Tower was a late-bloomer as a composer. Her first break-out composition, “Sequoia”, was written when Tower was 41. Tower’s music is closely tied to the Louisville Orchestra as the LO recorded several of her works for their “First Edition” series.

Joan Tower was born in New York, but moved to Bolivia when she was a child. The rhythmic music of that area can be heard in many of her compositions. Tower’s early music career was as a pianist. She co-founded the music group called the Da Capo Chamber Players in 1969. She wrote many works for the group to perform. She eventually left the group in the mid 1980′s as her composing career took flight. Tower was appointed composer-in-residence with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Tower became the first woman recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for music, awarded by the University of Louisville for her composition “Silver Ladders”, in 1990.

Five of Tower’s works were recorded by the Louisville Orchestra, including her concertos for clarinet, flute and piano. She’s also featured in the documentary about the Louisville Orchestra called “Music Makes a City”, which is currently being offered as a gift from WUOL if you pledge during our spring membership campaign.
Enjoy this interview with Ms. Tower as she discusses the challenges faced by the contemporary composer.

Spring Membership Drive: Music Makes a City Premium


During this Spring Membership Drive only, you can receive a copy of the DVD Music Makes a City with your sustaining contribution of $15/month or more ($180/year). Click here or call (502) 814-6565 to find out how.

Carnegie Hall Live: The English Concert


Early-music specialist Harry Bicket returns to Carnegie Hall with The English Concert for the next installment in their Handel project—the rarely heard oratorio Theodora. Featuring some of the composer’s most glorious music, this tragic work depicts the self-sacrificial love between a Christian virgin and a Roman imperial bodyguard, sung here by vocal greats Dorothea Röschmann and David Daniels. This deeply moving oratorio serves as a timeless parable of spiritual resistance to tyranny and an indictment of persecution, topics that still resonate with audiences today.

Women’s History Month – Dobrinka Tabakova


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.

Enjoy this excerpt of Dobrinka Tabakova’s Dawn:

Women’s History Month – Jennifer Higdon


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: