Jennifer Higdon has been awarded the $100,000 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition for 2018, given to contemporary classical composers of exceptional achievement "who have significantly influenced the field of composition," according to a Wednesday announcement from the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, which gives the prize.
"It's pretty big," said the Philadelphian, 55. "I am having an unreal year with the Grammy [her second award, this new one for her Viola Concerto], and some of the premieres that have gone pretty well."
This season, Higdon's Low Brass Concerto has been premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra, and other orchestras have performed her Tuba Concerto and Harp Concerto.
Higdon has been so busy as a working composer that "this has been my year of not teaching at Curtis, I've been on the road so much," she said.
Higdon has also written a piece to honor Network for New Music artistic director Linda Reichert, who is retiring at the end of the season. That work will be played along with many others honoring Reichert on April 29.
The Nemmers Prize comes with a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and will bring Higdon to Northwestern to lead coaching sessions with ensembles and to conduct lessons and seminars with composition students in two residencies over the next two years. The award was established in 2003 and has previously gone to composers such as John Adams, Kaija Saariaho, John Luther Adams, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Steve Reich.