Blue Cathedral (tr Nowlin)

From Wind Repertory Project
Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer Higdon (trans. Ryan Nowlin)

General Info

Year: 1999 / 2020
Duration: c. 11:55
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Symphony
Publisher: Lawdon Press
Cost: Score and Parts – Rental   |   Score Only (print) - $55.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
Solo B-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II
E-flat Contra-Alto Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II (I doubling Soprano Saxophone)
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
C Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • Crotales
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Sizzle Cymbal
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tom-Toms, low
  • Triangle, high and low

Crystal Glasses:

  • 2 pitched G5 played by 1st & 2nd Horn
  • 2 pitched C5 played by 3rd & 4th Horn
  • 2 pitched A5 played by 1st Trombone and one Euphonium
  • 2 pitched D5 played by 2nd Trombone & Bass Trombone

50 (approx.) Chinese Reflex Bells (Contact publisher)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Blue … like the sky. Where all possibilities soar. Cathedrals … a place of thought, growth, spiritual expression … serving as a symbolic doorway into and out of this world. Blue represents all potential and the progression of journeys. Cathedrals represent a place of beginnings, endings, solitude, fellowship, contemplation, knowledge and growth.

As I was writing this piece, I found myself imagining a journey through a glass cathedral in the sky. Because the walls would be transparent, I saw the image of clouds and blueness permeating from the outside of this church. In my mind's eye the listener would enter from the back of the sanctuary, floating along the corridor amongst giant crystal pillars, moving in a contemplative stance. The stained glass windows' figures would start moving with song, singing a heavenly music. The listener would float down the aisle, slowly moving upward at first and then progressing at a quicker pace, rising towards an immense ceiling which would open to the sky … as this journey progressed, the speed of the traveler would increase, rushing forward and upward. I wanted to create the sensation of contemplation and quiet peace at the beginning, moving towards the feeling of celebration and ecstatic expansion of the soul, all the while singing along with that heavenly music.

These were my thoughts when The Curtis Institute of Music commissioned me to write a work to commemorate its 75th anniversary. Curtis is a house of knowledge -- a place to reach towards that beautiful expression of the soul which comes through music. I began writing this piece at a unique juncture in my life and found myself pondering the question of what makes a life. The recent loss of my younger brother, Andrew Blue, made me reflect on the amazing journeys that we all make in our lives, crossing paths with so many individuals singularly and collectively, learning and growing each step of the way. This piece represents the expression of the individual and the group … our inner travels and the places our souls carry us, the lessons we learn, and the growth we experience.

In tribute to my brother, I feature solos for the clarinet (the instrument he played) and the flute (the instrument I play). Because I am the older sibling, it is the flute that appears first in this dialog. At the end of the work, the two instruments continue their dialogue, but it is the flute that drops out and the clarinet that continues on in the upward progressing journey. This is a story that commemorates living and passing through places of knowledge and of sharing and of that song called life.

This work was commissioned and premiered in 2000 by the Curtis Institute of Music.

- Program Note by composer, for orchestral version


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY) Wind Ensemble (Mark Scatterday, conductor) - 13 November 2023
  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles) Thornton Wind Ensemble (Michelle Rakers, conductor) - 6 October 2023
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony (Kevin Michael Holzman, conductor) - 27 January 2023
  • University of Illinois (Champaign/Urbana) Wind Symphony (Kevin Geraldi, conductor) — 30 September 2022
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Ensemble (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 20 April 2022
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) - 18 February 2022
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (JoAnn Falletta, conductor) – 17 February 2020 *Transcription Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer