Rhythm Stand, by Jennifer Higdon, pays tribute to the constant presence of rhythm in our lives, from the pulse of a heart beating to the rhythmic sounds of the world around us. Celebrating the “regular order” we all experience, Higdon incorporates traditional and non-traditional sounds within a 4/4 meter American style swing to heighten student awareness and enhance their creativity. Organized in unique compositional and rhythmic patterns, this work invites students to explore multiple ways of organizing sounds and making music.

In the composer’s own words: “Since rhythm is everywhere, not just in music (ever listened to the tires of a car running across pavement, or a train on railroad tracks?), I’ve incorporated sounds that come not from the instruments that you might find in a band, but from ‘objects’ that sit nearby…music stands and pencils! Music stands are played with pencils, which are both ‘objects’ at hand. Not only that, but some of the performers in this piece get even more basic…they snap their fingers. Because music can be any kind of sound arranged into an interesting pattern, I decided to add sounds that you wouldn’t normally hear coming from band instruments, sounds which are created out of ordinary things that might be sitting nearby. Composing is merely the job of combining interesting sounds into interesting patterns. ¬†And interesting patterns create cool rhythms. So…I’m making a STAND FOR RHYTHM!”


5-B flat clarinet 1
5-B flat clarinet 2
2-B flat Bass Clarinet
4-E flat alto saxophone
2-B flat tenor saxophone
2-E flat baritone saxophone

6-B flat trumpet
4-F horn
2-Baritone BC
2-Baritone TC
1-String Bass
2-Percussion 1: maracas, cowbell, sus. cym.
2-Percussion 2: B.D., glock
2-Percussion 3: claves, tambourine, triangle, whip
2-Percussion 4: S.D., xylophone
2-Percussion 5 (optional): bongo, glockenspiel
1-Piano (optional)

Meet The Composer

Jennifer Higdon (b. Brooklyn, NY, December 31, 1962) is active as a freelance composer. She has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts & Letters (two awards), the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, the International League of Women Composers, Composers Inc. (the Lee Ettelson Prize), the University of Delaware New Music Competition, the Louisville Orchestra New Music Search, the Cincinnati Symphony’s Young Composer’s Competition, NACUSA, and ASCAP. In addition she has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet-the-Composer, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Music From Angel Fire Festival, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Walden School, the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, and the Prism Saxophone Quartet. Most recently she was named Composer-in-Residence with the Philadelphia Singers. Her work, Shine, was named Best Contemporary Piece of 1996 by USA Today in their year-end classical picks.

Upcoming commissions include works for the Cypress String Quartet, the Ying Quartet, eighth blackbird, the Gilmore Piano Festival, the Philadelphia Singers, the Vail Music Festival, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, and National Symphony. Recent commissions come from groups that are as diverse as the The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Atlanta Symphony, The Minnesota Orchestra, The Oregon Symphony, The Curtis Institute of Music Symphony Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the Women’s Philharmonic, St. Lukes’ Chamber Ensemble, pianist Gary Graffman and the Lark String Quartet, the Verdehr Trio, The American Guild of Organists, The Network for New Music, The National Flute Association, the DaVinci String Quartet, ZAWA! and flutist Carol Wincenc.

Ms. Higdon’s works have been performed extensively around the country, including performances at the White House, Weill Hall, Merkin Hall, Alice Tully, Carnegie Hall, and by such performers as Carol Wincenc, Jeffrey Khaner, Marc-Andre Hamelin, the Cassatt String Quartet, the Miami String Quartet, the Lark Quartet, The Pacifica String Quartet, The Prism Sax Quartet, Synchronia, Earplay, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the American Composers Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Louisville Orchestra, the Oregon Symphony, the New England Philharmonic, and the Knoxville Symphony.

Her works have been recorded on two-dozen CDs. During 2003, Telarc will release her work blue cathedral on a recording with the Atlanta Symphony, Robert Spano, conducting. The year will also see the release of half a dozen other works on various labels. As a flutist, she is recorded on the Access and I Virtuosi labels and as a conductor on CRI.

She holds a Ph.D. and a M.A. in composition from the University of Pennsylvania, a B.M. in flute performance from Bowling Green State University, and an Artist Diploma from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her teachers have included George Crumb, Wallace DePue, James Primosch, Jay Reise, Ned Rorem, and Marilyn Shrude (composition), Judith Bentley and Jan Vinci (flute), and Robert Spano (conducting).

Ms. Higdon is currently on the composition faculty of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She formerly served as conductor of the University of Pennsylvania orchestra and wind ensemble and has served as Visiting Assistant Professor in music composition at Bard College. She is published by Lawdon Press.

About The Premiere

This piece was premiered May 27, 2004 by the Baldi Middle School Band in Philadelphia, PA under the direction of Sandra Dylan.