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Jennifer Higdon
Low Brass Concerto

Low Brass Concerto
Jennifer Higdon
(b. 1962)


Premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its famed low brass section in 2018, Jennifer Higdon’s Low Brass Concerto was commissioned by three orchestras: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In Higdon’s consultations with the low brass sections of each orchestra, the musicians emphasized their desire for a work that would bring out their ability to play softly and lyrically. To this point, Higdon notes, “normally, when people think of brass they think of power, which is not an inaccurate assessment. But brass players are quick to tell you that they also can play beautiful melodies, and do so quietly and with exquisite control. So early on in the planning process for this concerto, I decided to think about the music as reflections of the qualities of majesty, grace, and power.”

Higdon’s orchestral works have been commissioned and played by the country’s leading orchestras in the nation’s most venerated concert halls, and her Violin Concerto (2008), composed for the acclaimed violinist Hilary Hahn, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. Her previous residencies with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and awards by the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, among others, attest to Higdon’s reputation as one of the most celebrated American composers of our time.


  • The opening quartet amongst the soloists, whose slow-moving, interweaving lines showcase the brass’s ability to play sustained, legato melodies 
  • The contrast between sections in which all four soloists play together and duets that feature different pairs of soloists—such as the bass trombone with the tuba 
  • Quick passages in which the soloists are stacked in complex layers of rhythms and engage in quick and exciting bursts of exchanges 
  • Interlocking layers of rhythms in which the strings and woodwinds play shorter patterns and are supported by the slower-moving brass underneath 


Quartet of two trombones, bass trombone, and tuba; two flutes, two oboes, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, timpani, percussion, strings