While at Curtis, Hilary met and studied with the composer Jennifer Higdon, whose violin concerto she also recorded.
Pay no attention to the video as it has nothing to do with the audio track, which is of Higdon's Violin Concerto. Higdon was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in music for that piece. Incidentally, when I put up my final post on the album I posed a few questions about the commissioning process and Jennifer Higdon herself left a comment answering them. Nice gesture! She even complimented this blog. Higdon has also won a Grammy for best contemporary classical composition in 2009 for her percussion concerto.
So I think that the task of finding a good living female composer has been achieved very easily: Jennifer Higdon, currently professor of composition at the Curtis Institute. The Wikipedia article assembles a nice paragraph of praise for her work:
Higdon's music is popular with orchestras and audiences and the League of American Orchestras recently reported Higdon as one of the most performed living American composers. "Higdon's music is lithe and expert," wrote Robert Battey of the Washington Post. "Jennifer Higdon's vivid, attractive works have made her a hot commodity lately," wrote Steve Smith of the New York Times. "Jennifer Higdon is in my assessment one of the greatest of the newer composers," wrote Steven Ritter of Audiophile Audition. Of her Concerto for Orchestra, Richard Morrison in The Times(London) stated that "it is rare to witness a big new orchestral piece being acclaimed as Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra was cheered on ... The most impressive aspect is the panache with which a huge orchestra is deployed ... This colourful, ever-changing instrumental panoply is doubtless one reason why the work makes an instant impression ... Higdon's work is traditionally rooted yet imbued with integrity, freshness and a desire to entertain. A promising mixture. More, please."Let's listen to some more of her work. Here is her Percussion Concerto dating from 2005, played by the University of British Columbia Orchestra:
And here is her Concerto for Orchestra, dating from 2002 played by the Atlanta Symphony:
She doesn't just write concertos. Here is an excerpt from a piece she wrote for the Lark Quartet titled, "An Exaltation of Larks":
And here are "Trumpet Songs" for trumpet and piano:
So I think that she easily qualifies as a good, living composer. Does her music rise to the level of greatness? We will have to check back in fifty or a hundred years!!