Women in Music Festival

2009 Composer Biographies

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2009 Composer Biographies

Composer Biographies

(in alphabetical order)

Yoshiko Arahata  |  b. 1988
Yoshiko Arahata is a dual major in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester and in piano performance at the Eastman School of Music where she studies with Barry Snyder.  She has been a top prizewinner in numerous competitions, including the Long Beach Mozart Festival Concerto Competition and the Antelope Valley Bach Competition.  In the words of Arahata, “Through music, I hope to expand the audiences’ imagination and enthusiasm, enrich their emotions and most importantly inspire them to love music more.”

Amy Beach  |  1867-1944
Composer and pianist Amy Beach wrote over 300 works in a variety of genres. Considered the foremost American female composer of her time, she was highly disciplined and known for her ability to create large-scale pieces rapidly. Primarily self-taught, Ms. Beach received critical acclaim not only in the United States, but also in Europe. Her compositional style has been described as both Romantic and post-Romantic.

Jennifer Bellor | b. 1983
Jennifer Bellor holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Cornell University, a master’s degree in composition from Syracuse University, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in music composition at the Eastman School of Music. At Eastman, she holds a teaching assistantship as a composition teacher for non-majors, and is a recipient of the Samuel Adler scholarship. Currently, she is studying with David Liptak. Her former composition teachers include Steven Stucky, Sally Lamb, and Andrew Waggoner.

Lili Boulanger  |  1893-1918
French composer Lili Boulanger began musical studies at the age of three, and with the composer accompanying her, she sight-read Fauré songs a few years later. At nineteen, she caught the world’s attention by becoming the first woman to win the Prix de Rome (for her cantata Faust et Hélène). Although she was awarded a year of study in Rome, her stay was shortened due to poor health, and she died of tuberculosis at age twenty-five. In her short life, she composed more than fifty works.

Cécile Chaminade  |  1857-1944
French composer and pianist Cecile Chaminade composed over 400 works, nearly all of which were published in her lifetime. She held an extensive touring schedule, performing throughout England as a frequent guest of Queen Victoria, and the United States, where Chaminade clubs were formed. Her music is characterized by clear textures and French wit. Among her most popular compositions are her piano pieces.

Yie Eun Chun  |  b. 1985
Yie Eun Chun received a B.M. in Music Composition from Seoul National University, graduating summa cum laude in February 2008.  Her orchestral work has been performed by the SNU Symphony Orchestra and she has worked with esteemed composers Unsuk Chin, Michael Finnissy, and Samuel Adler in the master class setting.  Chun currently is pursuing a master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music where she is the recipient of the Warren Benson, Samuel Adler, Paul Sacher, and Ralph Jackno Fellowships.  Her primary teachers include Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez (composition) and Tony Caramia (piano).

Rebecca Clarke  |  1886-1979
English-born composer Rebecca Clarke began composing at age sixteen and was the first woman composer to win the celebrated Mendelssohn Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. An accomplished violist, she played chamber music with Hess, Casals, Thibaud, Szell, Rubinstein, Schnabel, Monteux and Grainger, among others. Her oeuvre includes fifty-eight vocal works and twenty-four instrumental works.

Judith Cloud  |  b. 1954
Judith Cloud is a composer and mezzo–soprano soloist who has performed widely, premiering many new works by young composers as well as her own music. The Northern Arizona University (NAU) Men’s Chorus recently commissioned and performed Philsophia Perennis for men’s chorus, mezzo, flugelhorn, and piano, and the Shrine of the Ages Choir recently performed Long, Long Ago. She received performance degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts and Florida State University, and is Coordinator of Voice at NAU, where she teaches studio voice and vocal pedagogy.

Valerie Coleman  |  b. 1970
Valerie Coleman, flutist, is the founder and resident composer of the Grammy nominated wind quintet, Imani Winds.  Noted for her highly developed sense of “timbral color and texture” (The Atlantic Journal-Constitution), Coleman’s music blends Afro-cuban tradition with jazz and Contemporary orchestration.  Her works are featured on four recordings released by KOCH International Classics: UMOJA (2002), The Classical Underground (2005), IMANI WINDS (2006), and “Josephine Baker: A Life of Le Jazz Hot” (2007).

Ruth Crawford  |  1901-1953
Ruth Crawford was the first woman to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.  Crawford’s ultra-modernist compositions caught the attention of Henry Cowell who published her works in his New Music Quarterly.  Joseph Straus has described her angular melodies as “giving the impression of living organisms, like amoebas that change shape as they move.”  In 1929 she left Chicago for New York to study dissonant counterpoint with Charles Seeger, whom she subsequently married.  From the mid-thirties onward, she abandoned modernism and devoted herself to the arrangement and dissemination of American Folk Music.

Emma Lou Diemer  |  b. 1927
Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, composer/organist Emma Lou Diemer received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition from Yale University and a doctoral degree from the Eastman School of Music.  Her primary teachers included Paul Hindemith, Howard Hanson, and Roger Sessions.  Diemer has written a wide range of keyboard works including the Hommage to Cowell, Cage, Crumb, and Czerny (1981) which features extended techniques for piano. The American Guild of Organists named Diemer ‘Composer of the Year’ in 1995 and in 1999 she was granted an honorary doctorate of letters by Central Missouri State University.

Jake Heggie  |  b. 1961
Composer and pianist Jake Heggie has written over 200 songs in addition to concertos, orchestral works, chamber music, and operas.  He is best known for his vocal works, including the operas Dead Man Walking and Three Decembers.  Currently, Heggie is composing an opera based upon Herman Melville’s Moby Dick which is slated to receive its debut performance by Dallas Opera in April of 2010.  “Heggie may prove be contemporary opera’s savior…” (Chicago Tribune).

Ruth Watson Henderson  |  b. 1932
Canadian pianist, composer and teacher Ruth (Louise) Watson Henderson studied piano with Viggo Kihland, Alberto Guerrero, and Hans Neumann and composition with Oscar Morawetz, Richard Johnston, and Samuel Dolin.  Her association as an accompanist for the Toronto-based Festival Singers from 1968-1979 inspired her to write a generous amount of choral music; her output includes over 80 pieces for this medium.  Among other accolades, Henderson was a prizewinner at the 1989 International Competition for Women Composers in Mannheim, Germany for her Chromatic Partita for Organ.

Jennifer Higdon  |  b. 1962
Jennifer Higdon has been a recipient of the Pew and Guggenheim Fellowships and has twice received awards from the American Academy of Awards and Letters.  Her work has been championed by The Washington Post for its, “innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit.”  Since its premiere in 2000, Higdon’s work blue cathedral has been performed by 150 orchestras.  She has been commissioned by the San Francisco Opera to write an opera to premiere in the Fall of 2013.

Elizabeth Kelly | b. 1982
Elizabeth Kelly is a PhD student in composition at the Eastman School of Music. The recipient of a Sproull fellowship from the University of Rochester and a Javits fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education for her current studies, she also holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Michigan. Her works have been performed by orchestras, wind ensembles and chamber groups throughout the United States and Europe.

Misook Kim  |  b. 1963
Mike Greenberg (San Antonio Express-News) has praised Misook Kim’s music for its “fearless modernism, its concision and its strong individual profile.” She has been the recipient of several awards, including the International Alliance for Women in Music Judith Zaimont Award.  A pianist as well as a composer, Kim completed master’s and doctoral degrees in piano performance at the University of Texas at Austin.  Kim currently is a faculty member at the Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College, IL.

Libby Larsen  |  b. 1950
Libby Larsen has been praised as “the only English-speaking composer since Benjamin Britten who matches great verse with fine music so intelligently and expressively” (USA Today). She has written over two hundred pieces of music in nearly every major genre, from chamber music and song cycles, to large-scale orchestral and choral pieces. Well-known and highly regarded, Ms. Larsen is a composer whose works have become standard in the classical music repertory.

Carrie Magin  |  b. 1981
Striking a unique balance between her creative outlets of performance and composition, marimba-focused percussionist and composer Carrie Magin has had successful performances in both the United States and Europe.  Her recent compositions include Charrette for Duo46 (violin and guitar) and Špilberk (marimba duo), which was composed/performed under the guidance of Keiko Abe in Villecroze, France.  Among other European performing engagements, Magin composed, performed, and organized the unique multi-media concert experience Marimba & Music (Brno, Czech Republic, 2007). Carrie Magin holds two Bachelor’s Degrees (composition/percussion) from the University of Michigan and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Composition from the University of Cincinnati.

Maria Ignez Cruz Mello  |  1963-2008
With a background in composition, anthropology, and cultural studies, Mello was an Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina.  An active researcher, she devoted herself to studies of music and genre, as well as the music of Brazil’s indigenous tribes of the Amazon.  Her works have been performed at the XVI Bienal de Musica Brasileira Contemporanea (Rio de Janeiro), and by the Coral Paulistano.  In 2005, she was featured in a special broadcast dedicated to women composers which was hosted by Radio Eldorado (São Paulo, Brazil).

Undine Smith Moore  |  1904-1989
Undine Smith Moore, known as the “Dean of Black Women Composers,” graduated from Fisk University in 1926.  From 1927-1972 she taught at Virginia State College (now Virginia State University).  Moore received many awards for her work including the National Association of Negro Musicians Distinguished Achievement Award (1975) and the Virginia Governor’s Award in the Arts (1985).  Her choral works, in particular, have received high praise.  Moore’s Scenes from the Life of a Martyr, inspired by the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Thea Musgrave  |  b. 1928
The music of Scottish-American composer Thea Musgrave has been noted for its “strong sense of drama.”  Musgrave’s orchestral works have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Orchestra, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, with the composer at the podium.  She has been a two-time recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and in 1974 she won the Koussevitzy Award, subsequently composing the chamber work, Space Play.  Musgrave was Distinguished Professor at Queens College, City University of New York from 1987-2002.

Lynne Palmer  |  b. 1918
Seattle-based harpist Lynne Palmer received her formative training from the legendary Carlos Salzedo, while she was a student at the Curtis Institute of Music.  Among others, she was principal harpist in the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Eugene Ormandy.  She is a former faculty member of the University of Michigan and the University of Washington.  Palmer has arranged several works for the harp and her Classical Suite for Harp Alone, a frequent competition piece, has been recorded for Naxos by Judy Loman.

Maria Teresa Agnesi Pinottini  |  1720-1795
Maria Teresa Agnesi Pinottini was an Italian composer who also was known as a singer and a harpsichordist.  Her known output includes concertos, sonatas, and miniatures for keyboard as well as operatic works.  In 1747, Agnesi-Pinotti composed her first cantata, Il restauro d’Arcadia, in dedication of the Austrian governor Gian-Luca Pallavicini.  Thereafter, she continued to compose vocal and instrumental music for the rulers of Saxony and Austria.

Flicka Rahn  |  b. 1944
Flicka Rahn enjoys an active career as a performer, teacher, and composer.  Rahn is an Associate Professor of Music at Texas A & M University in Corpus Christi where she teaches voice.  Of her recent performance in Carnegie Hall, a Boston Globe review noted her, “true, sweet assaying of the soprano part, as confidently placed as the stars in their courses.”  Rahn is planning a recording of Art Songs by American Women Composers with pianist Ruth Friedberg.  She has written music for chorus and solo voice and her works are published by Southern Music Company.

Lourde Saraivo  |  b. 1966
Lourdes Saraiva holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music composition from the Universidade Federal de Porto Alegre, where she studied with Celso Loureiro Chaves and Antonio Carlos Borges Cunha.  Her works have been performed at various composition symposiums and contemporary music festivals in Brazil.  Saraiva is an Assistant Professor at the Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, where she teaches theory and composition, and coordinates a community outreach program called CRIAMUS – Nucleus of Musical Creation.

Rachel Seah  |  b. 1989
Rachel Seah was born in Singapore, raised in Hong Kong, and moved to Australia as a teenager, where she began her formal study of music composition.  Influenced by her life-changing experiences of working with the poor and destitute in Hong Kong and the Philippines, Seah seeks to explore the fragility and brokenness of human nature through her creative output.  Seah is a freshman at the Eastman School of Music where she studies composition with Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez.

Clara Wieck Schumann  |  1819-1896
Hailed as Europe’s “Queen of Piano,” composer-pianist Clara Schumann began writing music at the age of nine. Her sixty-six works include songs, partsongs, pieces for piano and orchestra, pieces for solo piano, and cadenzas for piano concertos. Greatly admired by her contemporaries, Ms. Schumann was awarded the title of “Royal and Imperial Chamber Virtuosa, With Great Distinction” in Vienna, by the Emperor.

Erica Seguine  |  b. 1987
Erica Seguine’s music has been performed by numerous groups, including the Eastman Jazz Ensemble and the Eastman Studio Orchestra. In 2009 She was named honorable mention in ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards.  She is a student at the Eastman School of Music pursuing a B.M. degree in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media with a concentration in composition.  Her teachers include Bill Dobbins for jazz composition and Harold Danko for jazz piano.

Maria Szymanowska  |  1789-1831
Maria Szymanowska was referred to as the, “Queen of tones,” for her brilliant and expressive piano playing.  Of Polish decent, Szymanowska was a touring virtuoso in the early nineteenth century whose teachers included Antoni Lisowski and Tomasz Gremm.  Little definitive information is known with regard to her formal training in composition.  She wrote approximately 100 compositions: three chamber works, roughly twenty art songs with piano accompaniment, and numerous piano miniatures.

Germaine Tailleferre  |  1892-1983
The French composer Germaine Tailleferre was the only female member of the group Les Six, comprised of Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honneger, Darius Milhaud, and Francis Poulenc.  Impressed with her formidable musical gifts, Erik Satie considered her his “musical daughter.”  Tailleferre’s extensive output includes music of nearly every genre: operas, ballets, incidental music, film and television scores, orchestral, wind band, choral, songs, chamber and solo instrumental works.  Some of her most notable works include the Second Violin Sonata (1947-8), the Clarinet Sonata (1957) and the Piano Trio (1978).

Hilary Tann  |  b. 1947
Now residing in America, Welsh composer Hilary Tann draws much of her compositional inspiration from nature. She was schooled at the University of Wales at Cardiff and at Princeton University, and she has composed a number of works that reflect her deep interest in Japan. She chairs the Department of Performing Arts at Union College in Schenectady, and since 1989, her music has been exclusively published by Oxford University Press.

Nancy Telfer  |  b. 1950
Nancy Telfer has written over 300 works for solo instrumentalists, chamber ensembles, orchestra, band, and choir.  Her sacred and secular choral works comprise the largest portion of her output; De Profundis (2001) and Missa Brevis (1993) are frequently heard at international choral competitions.  Tefler enjoys an active career as a composer, conductor, and choral clinician.  She holds bachelor’s degrees in arts and music from the University of Western Ontario as well as an honorary licentiate from the Canadian National Conservatory of Music.

Augusta Read Thomas  |  b. 1964
Augusta Read Thomas has been noted for her, “precisely calibrated music of refined beauty” (The Boston Globe).  The recipient of numerous awards, her Astral Canticle for violin, flute, and orchestra was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2007.  Her works have been programmed by the leading conductors of our time, including Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, Seiji Ozawa, and Leonard Slatkin.  Thomas is the Director of the Festival of Contemporary Music at the Tanglewood Music Center for the 2009 Season.

Joan Tower  |  b. 1938
Acclaimed as “one of the most successful woman composers of all time” by The New Yorker, Joan Tower’s career has spanned five decades. In 1990, she became the first woman ever to receive the Grawemeyer Award in Composition. Four years later, Carnegie Hall’s “Making Music” featured artists such as Ursula Oppens, the Tokyo String Quartet, and others in a retrospective of her compositions. Ms. Tower teaches at Bard College and is composer-in-residence for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.

Grace Vamos  |  1898-1992
Grace Vamos a native of San Francisco, resided in Berkeley for many years and studied cello with the outstanding teachers in the area.  She concertized extensively with “Trio Moderne” (harp, flute, and cello) for which she arranged much of the music they performed.  A Damrosch Scholarship enabled her to continue her studies in France at the Fontainebleau School of Music at the Paris Conservatory.  At a late date, she had the privilege of being a student of Zoltan Kodaly in Budapest.  She has won several awards for her compositions among them the Sigma Alpha Iota award for her “Suite for Cello and Piano.”  One of her prized possessions is a letter from Pablo Casals, praising her “Suite for Violoncello and Piano.”  To encourage music students of the younger generation, the Grace Becker Vamos Scholarship for promising young cellists was established in 1975.  Vamos also endowed the Grace Vamos National Cello Competition.

Eva Wasserman-Margolis  |  b. 1956
Eva Wasserman Margolis was born on the island of Key West, Florida. Currently, she is a main instructor at the Conservatory of Givatayim as well as the national chairperson for the International Clarinet Association in Israel.  In 2004, she was the only woman to receive an honorary professorship for her performance at the International Clarinet Festival in China.  Her published works include The Generation of Hope and Ode to Odessa, both for solo clarinet.  To learn more about her recordings and publications, visit: www.leonarda.com and www.ortav.com.

Judith Lang Zaimont  |  b. 1945
Judith Lang Zaimont’s music is internationally acclaimed for its expressive strength and dynamism. Many of her 100 works are prize-winning compositions; these include three symphonies, chamber opera, music for wind ensemble, oratorios and cantatas and other works for chorus, compositions for voice, solo instruments and a wide variety of chamber music. Her composition awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, commission grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and American Composers Forum, a 2003 Aaron Copland Award and 2005 Bush Foundation Fellowship.

Zaimont’s music is frequently played in the United States and abroad and has been programmed by ensembles such as the Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Mississippi symphony orchestras, the Berlin Radio Orchestra (Germany), Czech Radio Orchestra (Prague), Kremlin Chamber Orchestra (Moscow, Russia), Kharkov Philharmonic (Ukraine), and the Women’s Philharmonic (CA). Her works are widely published and recorded, extensively researched (the subject of 15 doctoral papers to date), have served as competition repertoire for international piano (Cliburn; San Antonio) and conducting competitions (Jordania), and two are cited on the Century Lists of Piano International and Chamber Music America.

Zaimont’s own research and writings on music have dual concentrations. Her essays and speeches probe questions of professionalism and artistic survival for American concert-music composers of the current era; they have appeared in journals of The College Music Society, International Alliance for Women in Music and the American Music Center’s online magazine, NewMusicBox. And her decades-long concerns for increased visibility, as well as elevation in prominence, for women composers of the past and of the present produced articles, speeches, and the four Greenwood Press books whose concepts she created and for which she served as editor-in-chief. These are Contemporary Concert Music by Women and the three volumes of The Musical Woman: An International Perspective (for which she was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from which Volume III received First Prize in the Pauline Alderman musicology awards) .
After a distinguished career as an educator (Peabody Conservatory, CUNY, Adelphi University and the University of Minnesota), she and her husband, painter Gary Zaimont, moved to the greater Phoenix area, and she is now concentrating fully on composing.

For complete Information and Lists of Recordings and Printed Music see www.judithzaimont.com/