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When Jennifer Met Hilary–More on Higdon’s Violin Concerto

Jennifer Higdon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Violin Concerto, written especially for her former student Hilary Hahn, was co-commissioned in 2009 by the Indianapolis, Toronto, and Baltimore symphony orchestras, as well as by the Curtis Institute of Music, where both Hahn and Higdon studied, and where Higdon has been a faculty member since 1994. They first met at Curtis where Higdon was Hahn’s professor of 20th-century music history.

“I was overjoyed by this news,” Hilary said. “It was both artistically and intellectually rewarding to collaborate with Jennifer on this concerto, and she put so much energy into the work. She has been a wonderful colleague throughout the whole process, attending nearly every performance of the piece as well as the recording sessions in Liverpool last spring. From a performer’s perspective, there’s no substitute for that kind of support. Congratulations, Jennifer!”

Violin Concerto was premiered on February 6, 2009 in Indianapolis, where it was met with great critical acclaim. To date, Hahn has performed Higdon’s Violin Concerto with the commissioning orchestras; with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (May 29 and 30, 2009), with whom she also recorded the piece; with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra (January 7-9, 2010); and with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (January 21-23, 2010).  Hahn will play the work with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra on May 13-16, 2010, and with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra on February 14, 2011 at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center and February 15, 2011 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. These performances will mark the concerto’s Dallas, Philadelphia, and New York premieres, respectively.

Hahn’s recording of Higdon’s Violin Concerto will be released internationally, paired with the Tchaikovsky concerto, by Deutsche Grammophon in September 2010.

After the premiere in Indianapolis, Hahn interviewed Higdon about the composition process and the first performances.   Part 1 is above.   You’ll find more of Higdon interview on Hahn’s YouTube channel.


Comment from Dave Lewin
Time: April 12, 2010, 9:18 pm

I was fortunate enough to have heard the incomparable Hilary Hahn perform this engaging and delightful work in January with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Congratulations to both Ms. Higdon and Ms. Hahn on this wonderful achievement.

Comment from Aaron Fryklund
Time: April 12, 2010, 10:02 pm

That’s pretty cool, Dave. It must be interesting to look back on your first impressions of the work, knowing now about the Pulitzer. Congratulations to Higdon!