Telarc’s Higdon SACD Wins Major Award

Telarc's stunning hybrid multichannel SACD of Jennifer Higdon's City Scape and Concerto for Orchestra has received the 2005 OutMusic Award for Outstanding New Instrumental Recording. The disc has also received the 2005 Grammy for Best Engineered Classical Recording (well-deserved by Jack Renner) and 2005 Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance (equally well-deserved by Higdon champion Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra).

Higdon's recognition marks the first time in their five-year history that the annual OutMusic Awards, which celebrate excellence in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) recording, songwriting, and cultural activism, have recognized a classical composer. The award, presented in Chicago on June 12 at a ceremony cohosted by Telarc jazz artist/comedienne/actress Lea Delaria, was judged by a group of LGBT music professionals who included this writer.

Judges were asked to rate discs for "Performance," "Production," and "Overall Impression." Higdon's disc arrived in judges' hands as a two-channel burn lacking liner notes; most had no opportunity to hear the hybrid multichannel SACD version that has accounted for 40% of the disc's sales. Furthermore, judges, faced with a plethora of low-budget indie offerings, were asked to ignore sound quality. Thus, it was Higdon's compositional mastery and the Atlanta Symphony's superb performance, rather than Telarc's state-of-the-art engineering that earned the award.

In one sense, granting Higdon the award was a no-brainer. Its competition included formulaic CDs of dance/lounge music and a mildly spooky score for a science fiction flick. Even so, Higdon's recognition might not have been possible were her music not so high-spirited, colorful, and instantly appealing.

The 42-year-old Higdon has discovered her music so in demand of late that she has had a hard time keeping track of performances and commissions. In order to free up time for composing, she has enlisted her partner of 26 years, Cheryl Lawson, to handle the publishing end of the business. On April 16, the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, under Robert Spano, celebrated both its 50th anniversary and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass with the world premiere of one of Higdon's most recent commissions, Dooryard Blooms.

For further information, see www.outmusic.com and www.telarc.com.

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