b. 1962

When it comes to living composers played by American orchestras, Jennifer Higdon is a leader of the pack.  Her orchestra piece “Blue Cathedral” was written in 1999 and received 19 performances last year — more than any other orchestra piece written in the last 25 years.  During the same period, she was the third most widely performed living composer after her more senior colleagues John Adams and John Corigliano. 

Higdon is a 47-year-old out lesbian who lives in Philadelphia and teaches at the Curtis Institute.  She met her partner Cheryl Lawson when they were in high school band together in Tennessee.  A few years ago, Lawson abandoned her career in events management to work full time at Higdon’s in-house publishing company.  Considering that Higdon’s music receives more than 200 performances a year, there’s plenty to keep the two of them busy.  [link]


Jennifer Higdon on the floor of her studio, propped up on her elbows over sheet music, next to a laptop with music stands in the background. Her orange tabby cat is walking towards the camera over the laptop and music.