On A Wire

Jennifer Higdon

1 percussionist

6 players total plus orchestra

Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Marimba, Piano, and Orchestra


Composing a concerto for one soloist and orchestra is a bit of a balancing act… so imagine throwing in five more soloists. On a Wire is eighth blackbird’s high-wire-act of a concerto.  Having already written two chamber works for this group, I am familiar with their ability to do all sorts of cool things on their instruments, from extended techniques, to complex patterns, to exquisitely controlled lyrical lines. I also admire the pure joy that emanates from their playing, no matter the repertoire. Written as a one-movement work, it highlights the group as an ensemble, allows each member to solo, and utilizes some of their unique staging: the players move about and perform beyond their respective primary instruments (the work begins with bowed piano). So imagine 6 blackbirds, sitting on a wire…

On a Wire was commissioned by The Atlanta Symphony, The Akron Symphony, The Cincinnati Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Toronto Symphony, West Michigan Symphony, The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts with the Vermont Symphony, and The Cabrillo Festival. eighth blackbird premiered the work with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in June 2010.

-Jennifer Higdon


Annotated by Tyler Flynt