Composer Jennifer Higdon (standing, right) with Curtis Chamber Orchestra conductor Robert Spano (center) & soloist Roberto DÃaz following the March 7, 2015, premiere of Higdonâs âViola Concertoâ in the Libraryâs Coolidge Auditorium. The debut recording of the composition won a 2018 Grammy Award. Photo by Shawn Miller.
The Library of Congress is delighted to report that a composition it co-commissioned won a 2018 Grammy Award: Jennifer Higdon, acclaimed composer of contemporary classical music, accepted the award in Madison Square Garden in New York on January 28 for âViola Concerto.â The Library co-commissioned the work from Higdon with the Curtis Institute of Music, the Aspen Music Festival & the Nashville Symphony for the 90th anniversary season of Concerts from the Library of Congress.
Commissioned in honor of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, âViola Concertoâ premiered in the Libraryâs Coolidge Auditorium on March 7, 2015. Robert Spano conducted the Curtis Chamber Orchestra, & Roberto DÃaz performed on the Tuscan-Medici viola, made by Antonio Stradivari in 1690. It is on long-term loan to the Library. The debut recording of âViola Concerto,â performed by DÃaz with the Nasvhille Symphony conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero, won the Grammy for the Best Contemporary Classical Composition.
Roberto DÃaz warms up on the Tuscan-Medici viola backstage at the Coolidge Auditorium before the premiere of âViola Concerto.â Photo by Shawn Miller.
âThis project was a wonderful way to honor the Libraryâs impressive nine decades as a concert presenter, AND also to spotlight the 325th birthday of the Tuscan-Medici. Itâs a truly magnificent instrument, made for the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando deâ Medici,â says Anne McLean, Senior producer for concerts AND special projects & the Library.
The commission was made possible thanks to generous support from the family of Jane AND Cameron Baird & from John J. Medveckis of the Libraryâs James Madison Council. The Musical Fund Society supported the participation of the Curtis Institute.
This was not Higdonâs first Grammy Award. Her âPercussion Concertoâ won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in January 2010. Higdon also received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her âViolin Concerto.â
The Washington Post has described Higdon as a âsavvy, sensitive composer with a keen ear, an innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit.â Her music has been performed throughout the worldwide, & she has more than 60 CDs to her name. Her orchestral work, âblue cathedral,â is one of the most performed contemporary orchestral compositions by a living American.
Higdonâs Grammy win was not a first for the Library of Congress, either. The Recording Academy presented the Library with a special Grammy Award in 2013 in recognition of its work in preserving historic audio recordings.
Earlier, in 2006, âJelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings by Alan Lomaxâ won Grammys for best historical album & best liner notes; the Libraryâs American Folklife Center houses the original Jelly Roll Morton discs.
Over the years, the centerâs archives have inspired multiple Grammy nominations & wins, among them Bruce Springsteenâs 2007 Grammy for best traditional folk album for âWe Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.â Springsteen interpreted folk music songs made popular by famed folk musician Pete Seeger, who learned many of the songs as an intern at the folk archive in the 1930s.
Scroll down to view the webcast of the 2015 premiere of âViola Concertoâ in the Coolidge Auditorium & a preconcert interview of Higdon.
The Performing Arts Reading Room holds Higdonâs score with hand-written revisions, available to researchers today & preserved for future generations of scholars to study.