Last Friday, Jennifer Higdon met with our composition students. Interesting person; interesting career. She has led, by her own assertion, a charmed professional life, being in the right place at the right time on several occasions. Her music is very direct, ingratiating, and well conceived.

When we have guest composers, I like to let them talk about whatever they wish – their own music, artistic issues, creative process, whatever. Every guest has something valuable to offer. Jennifer played and talked about a movement from her piano trio and her entire (one-movement) percussion concerto. But the majority of the session seemed to focus on professional development, which I don’t believe had ever happened with a guest composer here before. She had a lot of great suggestions for our students, tips on entering competitions, getting commissions, self-publishing. They ate it up, asking questions and taking notes.

She is certainly a pleasant, unpretentious individual, with a charming disposition, a great sense of humor and a wide-eyed enthusiasm that I can’t help finding infectious.

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