Indiana State University Newsroom

Iconic American composer to headline concert

November 12, 2018

The Indiana State University Symphony Orchestra will welcome American composer Joan Tower to campus for a concert in celebration of her 80th birthday at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, in Tilson Auditorium.

Tower is among the most important living American composers, and has been described by The New Yorker as "one of the most successful woman composers of all time." She was the first woman to receive the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Music in 1990, has won several Grammy awards, and her music is performed all over the world. Tower is perhaps best well-known for her series of compositions Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, written somewhat as a response to the famous Copland Fanfare for the Common Man.

"This is an incredible opportunity for both our students and the community," said Erik Rohde, director of String Activities and Orchestra at Indiana State University who will be conducting Thursday's performance. "Every year our students get to work with living composers, especially during our annual Contemporary Music Festival, but to have Joan Tower on campus for this concert is a unique experience, and we're very fortunate to be able to bring her to Terre Haute. Tower is someone who we already read about in our music history books, so to have the chance to meet her and work with her in person is something none of us will easily forget."

The concert will open with Tower's Sixth Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, the latest installation of her series of fanfares, this one having been written in 2014. It will also feature her Piano Concerto, written in 1985 in homage to Beethoven.

"For Tower's Piano Concerto, we are very fortunate to be working with a local artist who is a world-class player. Pianist Clare Longendyke lives in Indianapolis and has worked with Joan Tower on her music before," Rohde said. "She now performs extensively in the United States and throughout the world and it has been really inspiring to work on this concerto with her. It's an electrifying piece and she has brought incredible energy to our rehearsals."

In addition to the two works by Joan Tower, the University Symphony Orchestra will perform three of Brahms' Hungarian Dances under the direction of Tianxi Wen and the Suite for Variety Orchestra by Dmitri Shostakovich.

The performance is free and open to the public. For more information, email

Photo: - Joan Tower