Jennifer Higdon
Born December 31, 1962, in Brooklyn, New York
2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion, strings
Performance time
17 minutes
August 1, 2015, Santa Fe Opera
Last Performed by the TSO
October 8, 2023

While creating this suite, it was a wonderful challenge to determine which music to feature in order to create a dynamic and engaging orchestral work. Because Cold Mountain is about love, war, and death (imagine that in an opera!) there was a lot of dramatic music from which to pick. I chose various arias, duets, and quintets, with the idea that they would be arranged not in story order, but in a manner to create the greatest contrast for the listener. The beginning and end of the suite come from the opening of Act 2 and the closing of Act 1—purely for its style of ramping up. It then quickly moves into the Storm Music; followed by the quintet, I Should Be Crying; the duet, Orion (which I calculated would need two weeks to write, but in an amazing fit of inspiration, came to me in one day—the very thing creative types dream about); the fiddling duet, Bless You Ruby; Ada’s contemplative aria, I Feel Sorry For You; then music from the scene where Inman and Ada get together after four years of his being away at war; and finally to the music that ends Act 1 to close out the suite.

After taking 28 months to write this opera, and having lived with the characters so deeply in my heart and soul, it is truly a privilege to share this music with you. Thank you for joining us on this journey through Cold Mountain. Based on Charles Frazier’s National Book Award–winning novel, the opera, Cold Mountain (2015), was commissioned by Santa Fe Opera, Opera Philadelphia, North Carolina Opera, and Minnesota Opera. The suite was commissioned by New Music for America, and co-commissioned by the Tucson Symphony and 36 other organizations.

Jennifer Higdon