Mar 14, 2009
Even as she prepares for her 70th birthday in September 2008, Joan Tower is looking forward as much as she is looking back on a career that spans over five decades.
Hailed as "one of the most successful woman composers of all time" in The New Yorker magazine, Joan Tower was the first woman to receive the Grawemeyer Award in Composition in 1990. She was inducted in 1998 into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters, and into the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in the fall of 2004.
She was the first composer chosen for the ambitious new Ford Made in America commissioning program, a collaboration of the League of American Orchestras (at that time, the American Symphony Orchestra League) and Meet the Composer. In October 2005, the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra presented the world premiere of Tower's 15-minute orchestral piece Made in America. The work went on to performances in every state in the Union during the 2005-07 seasons.
The Nashville Symphony and conductor Leonard Slatkin recorded Made in America, Tambor, and Concerto for Orchestra for the Naxos label. The top-selling recording won three 2008 Grammy awards: Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance.
Joan Tower has been a member of the American Composers Alliance since the mid-1960s. ACA is the proud publisher still, for several of her early works, including the well-known Hexachords for solo flute (1972), Brimset for 2 flutes and 2 percussion (1965), and two early piano works, Fantasia (1966) and Circles (1964), and quite a few others. We chose the earlier piano solo piece for this festival, because it appears that this work has not been performed in concert, perhaps ever. It's a complex thoughtful piece by the young composer, the ideas moving in waves and in circles, often turning around the same notes.