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.