Cold Mountain
Composer: Jennifer Higdon
Composer Bio: Pulitzer-prize winner Jennifer Higdon (b. Brooklyn, NY, December 31, 1962) started late in music, teaching herself to play flute at the age of 15 and then beginning formal musical studies at 18, with an even later start in composition at the age of 21. Despite this late start, Higdon has become a major figure in contemporary classical music and makes her living from commissions, representing a range of genres from orchestral to chamber and from opera to choral to wind ensemble. Hailed by the Washington Post as "a savvy, sensitive composer with a keen ear, an innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit," the League of American Orchestras reports that she is one of America's most frequently performed composers. Higdon's list of commissioners and performing organizations is extensive and includes The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony, The Atlanta Symphony, The Baltimore Symphony, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, The London Philharmonic Orchestra, The Luzern Sinfonieorchester, The Hague Philharmonic, The Melbourne Symphony, The New Zealand Symphony, The Pittsburgh Symphony, The Indianapolis Symphony, The Dallas Symphony, as well as such groups as the Tokyo String Quartet and the President's Own Marine Band. Higdon received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, with the committee citing Higdon's work as a "deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity." She has also received awards from the Serge Koussevitzky Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts & Letters (two awards), the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Meet-the-Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ASCAP. Higdon was the University of Wyoming's Eminent Artist-in-Residence during the 2010-11 season. In 2012, she was honored by the Delaware Symphony with the A.I. DuPont Award for her contributions to the symphonic literature. She has been a Featured Composer at festivals including Tanglewood, Vail, Cabrillo, Grand Teton, Norfolk, and Winnipeg. She has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony. Higdon enjoys several hundred performances a year of her works. Her orchestral work blue cathedral is one of the most performed contemporary orchestral works and has received more than 500 performances worldwide since its premiere in 2000. Her works have been recorded on over four dozen CDs. Her Percussion Concerto won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in January, 2010. Other CDs including her music that have won Grammys: Higdon: Concerto for Orchestra/City Scape, Strange Imaginary Animals, and Transmigration. She is currently writing an opera, based on Charles Frazier's book Cold Mountain, which is scheduled to be premiered in August, 2015, by Santa Fe Opera. It has been co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia which will present the opera in February, 2016, and by the Minnesota Opera (dates to be announced). Dr. Higdon currently holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Composition Studies at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her music is published exclusively by Lawdon Press.
Librettist: Gene Scheer
Librettist Bio: Mr. Scheer’s work is noted for its scope and versatility. With the composer Jake Heggie he has collaborated on a number of different projects, including the critically acclaimed 2010 Dallas Opera world premiere, Moby-Dick, starring Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab; Three Decembers (Houston Grand Opera), which starred Frederica von Stade; and the lyric drama To Hell and Back (Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra), which featured Patti LuPone. Other works by Scheer and Heggie include Camille Claudel: Into the fire, a song cycle premiered by Joyce di Donato and the Alexander String Quartet. Mr. Scheer worked as librettist with Tobias Picker on An American Tragedy, which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005. Their first opera, Thérèse Raquin, written for the Dallas Opera in 2001, was cited by Opera News as one of the ten best recordings of 2002. Other recent collaborations include the lyrics for Wynton Marsalis’s It Never Goes Away, featured in Mr. Marsalis’s work Congo Square. With the composer Steven Stucky, Mr. Scheer wrote the oratorio August 4, 1964. The work, recently nominated for a Grammy, was premiered by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 2008 and last season was performed by the orchestra, with Japp von Sweeden conducting, at Carnegie Hall. Also a composer in his own right, Mr. Scheer has written a number of songs for singers such as Renée Fleming, Sylvia McNair, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Larmore, Denyce Graves, and Nathan Gunn. The distinguished documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, prominently featured Mr. Scheer’s song “American Anthem” (as sung by Norah Jones) in his Emmy Award-winning World War II documentary for PBS entitled The War.
Original Cast: Isabel Leonard (Ada)
Emily Fons (Ruby)
Jay Hunter Morris (Teague)
Roger Honeywell (Veasey)
Nathan Gunn (Inman)
Robert Pomakov (Monroe/Soldier/Guard)
Kevin Burdette (Stobrod/Blind Man)
Premiere Date: August 01, 2015
Description: The opera tells the story of W.P. Inman, a Confederate soldier who, after being treated for wounds he received during the battle of Petersburg, chooses to desert the army and make his way back to his beloved Ada Monroe. Inman knows that the Home Guard is hunting down deserters. Emotionally gutted by the horrors he has experienced and desperate to see Ada again, he decides to take the risk and begins the dangerous journey home. When Inman left for the war, he believed the war would not last but six months. It is now four years later. Ada, a Southern lady once used to a life of privilege, has now been forced to deal with a life of profound deprivation. With the help of Ruby, a resourceful mountain woman, Ada’s life has been slowly transformed. The women helped each other not only to endure the war, but also to grow in ways that are both unexpected and profound.

Cold Mountain, set during the American Civil War — the pivotal conflict in our nation’s history — is the story of a soldier who wonders (as many have and alas many still do today) whether the violence he has endured has in some way ruined him and made him unworthy of love. In the struggle to answer this question Inman, the hero of the opera, is forced to examine where his real allegiance lies. Is it to his country? Is it to a cause? What is at the center of his soul? What are the core principles that he needs to abide by to feel essentially human again?

Cold Mountain, like The Odyssey on which it is loosely based, has at its center a transformative journey. It is of course a tragic story, but it is a profoundly uplifting story too. In the end, Inman, Ada and Ruby have each carved away everything that is unessential, a distraction, and a hollow promise, and have all been pared down to the truth that love is the only reliable compass that can lead to redemption.
Character List (Major): Ada (Soprano or High Mezzo)
W.P Inman (Baritone)
Teague (Tenor)
Ruby (Mezzo)
Veasey (Tenor)

Length: 02:45
Total Acts: 2
Contact: Lawdon Press
Address: Cheryl Lawson, Vice President
Lawdon Press
1008 Spruce St., #3F
Philadelphia, PA 19107
phone: (215) 592-1847
fax: (215) 592-1095
Composer Web Site: http://jenniferhigdon.com/
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