Listen to an excerpt from
Higdon’s All Things Majestic
Jennifer HIGDON (b. 1962)
All Things Majestic
Viola Concerto1 • Oboe Concerto2
Roberto Díaz, Viola1
James Button, Oboe2
Nashville Symphony
Giancarlo Guerrero


Jennifer Higdon is one of the most distinguished composers working in America today, and her music is a perfect fit for the Nashville Symphony, which has long maintained a commitment to championing the country’s most important voices. All Things Majestic is a four-movement suite which vividly captures the breath-taking beauty of the American landscape, and her wonderfully expressive concertos for viola and oboe bring out the unique textures and sonorities of these frequently overlooked solo instruments.
Jennifer Higdon| Giancarlo Guerrero| Nashville Symphony| Roberto Díaz| James Button
Jennifer Higdon
© Candace diCarlo
   About Jennifer Higdon
Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Higdon is one of America’s most performed living composers. Higdon received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, with the committee citing Higdon’s work as “a deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity.” She is the recipient of many other awards, including a Pew Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and two awards from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. Her works have been released on over three dozen CDs, and most recently her Percussion Concerto won the 2010 GRAMMY® for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Higdon holds the Rock Chair in Composition at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.


Giancarlo Guerrero
   About Giancarlo Guerrero
Giancarlo Guerrero is Music Director of the Nashville Symphony and Principal Guest Conductor of Cleveland Orchestra Miami. His recordings with the Nashville Symphony won GRAMMY® Awards in 2011 and 2012, including Best Orchestral Performance. A fervent advocate of contemporary music and composers, he has championed works by several of America’s foremost composers, including Joan Tower, John Adams, John Corigliano, Osvaldo Golijov, Jennifer Higdon, Michael Daugherty, Roberto Sierra and Richard Danielpour.
Nashville Symphony
© Mark Mosrie
   About the Nashville Symphony
One of the most active recording orchestras in the country, the Nashville Symphony has released more than thirty recordings, including 28 on Naxos. These recordings have received a total of 20 GRAMMY® nominations and eight GRAMMY® wins, including two for Best Orchestral Performance. Throughout its history, the Nashville Symphony has championed the music of America’s leading composers and has commissioned innovative new works from Nashville-based artists, including bassist Edgar Meyer, banjoist Béla Fleck, and singer-songwriter-pianist Ben Folds.


Roberto Díaz
© Alisa Garin
   About Roberto Díaz
The violist Roberto Díaz is president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music. As a soloist, he collaborates with leading conductors and composers, including Krzysztof Penderecki, whose Viola Concerto he has performed many times with the composer and whose Double Concerto he premièred in the United States. In addition to performing with string quartets and pianists in chamber music series and festivals worldwide, Díaz has toured Europe, Asia and the Americas as a member of the Díaz Trio. His tenure at Curtis has seen the construction of a new building that doubled the size of the school’s campus, the introduction of a classical guitar department, the launch of summer courses open to the public, and the launch of an international touring series for students, Curtis on Tour. Díaz was awarded an honorary membership by the National Board of the American Viola Society. In 2013 he became a member of the American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin. In addition to his decade-long tenure as principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Díaz was principal viola of the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovich, a member of the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, and a member of the Minnesota Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner. Díaz plays the ex-Primrose Amati viola.


James Button
   About James Button
Originally from Australia, oboist James Button made his solo début with the Melbourne Symphony at the age of seventeen. Principal oboist of the Nashville Symphony since 2011, he was previously a member of the Seoul Philharmonic and the New World Symphony. In 2015 he served as guest principal with the Chicago Symphony under Riccardo Muti. Button has performed at the Verbier, Edinburgh and Tanglewood Music Festivals, as well as at Italy’s Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi and the Granada Festival of Music and Dance. In 2006 he performed the Beethoven Quintet for Piano and Winds with James Levine at the Verbier Festival. He attended Temple University and The Juilliard School, where his teachers were Jonathan Blumenfeld and Eugene Izotov, respectively. Other teachers include John Mack, John de Lancie, Joseph Turner and Ian Falloon. Button spends his summers in Santa Fe, N.M., performing as a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra.
Jennifer Higdon’s music on Naxos
“A set of exceptional performances filled with moments of crude primitivism and
delicate lyricism.”
– Fanfare
“All the musicians involved give committed performances”
– Limelight Magazine
Recent recordings by
Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony
“Giancarlo Guerrero allows the voice to move on a bed of sensitive sounds.”
– Pizzicato
“Guerrero and the orchestra sound as if they’re
savouring every fresh Daugherty detail.”
– Gramophone
GRAMMY® Winner
Naxos Interview: Giancarlo Guerrero
March 20, 2017 • by Laurence Vittes

On their new CD of music by Jennifer Higdon, Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony play the world première recordings of two woodwind concertos and an important orchestral piece. One concerto is  for principal oboist James Button and one is for violist turned head of the Curtis Institute of Music Robert Díaz. The big piece is only the second recording of Higdon's All Things Majestic, a Grand Tetons Music Festival commission that was so important, its 2012 premiere in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was featured in Gramophone.

Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Concerto (2014) was commissioned by The Library of Congress, in honor of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Library’s concert series. The work was co-commissioned by the Curtis Institute of Music, the Aspen Music Festival and School and the Nashville Symphony. The Oboe Concerto (2005) was commissioned by the Minnesota Commissioning Club.

Recording live at the Laura Turner Concert Hall, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, in Nashville, in January and March 2016, the production team consisted of Tim Handley and Gary Call. Lawdon Press publishes the music, and the booklet notes were written by Thomas May.

I spoke to Maestro Guerrero in Nashville.

LV How did the CD come about?

Giancarlo Guerrero It was our responsibility as part of the commissioning group to record the Viola Concerto–we didn't care about the world première, the most important thing to us was doing the recording. When James Button, after doing a lot of research, said that Jennifer's Oboe Concerto was the one he wanted, I called her and said we needed another 40 minutes and she immediately suggested All Things Majestic. That there was no recording made it an even more obvious choice.

LV What were the forces that had to be mobilized to make this recording happen?

Giancarlo Guerrero The saying, "it takes a village," was really true in this case. Because in Nashville, it's not only the production team and all the people you mentioned, it's also everyone who attends our concerts and hears our live recordings on Naxos. In fact, our audiences have come to the realization that they are making the most important contribution to the orchestra, they are totally invested in what we are doing, and in a real sense they feel like they own the Symphony.

LV It sounds like the fan base of a professional sports team.

Giancarlo Guerrero Think about it: the music is being written for them and so naturally they're going to be rooting for new pieces that were written for them to become the next great warhorse. We do pre-concert and post-concert discussions at each concert, and I do them both when I am conducting. I tell the audience,  "This is your orchestra, it's been tailor-made for you in this 21st century day and age."

LV Do you live in Nashville yourself?

Giancarlo Guerrero I do. And as a proud band dad, I am proud to be conducting the Tennessee All-State orchestra in Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony at the Grand Old Opry on April 8 where we will be hearing the next generation of musicians in Tennessee.

LV How do they prepare for such an awesome assignment?

Giancarlo Guerrero I will tell them that they are expected to come with a solid understanding of the music. This means taking the music to their private instructors and having fingerings marked. I also included notes like "3rd Movement string divisi should be distributed as listed below."

LV It sounds like a lot of work.

Giancarlo Guerrero It is. Plus, since no one will be seated until they arrive for All State week, the strings will have to be ready to play multiple parts. And of course they will need to spend time listening to recordings of the Symphony.

LV It sounds like some serious bonding is going on between the Symphony and the city.

Giancarlo Guerrero We know that orchestras basically serve as cultural ambassadors and they do it best and most authentically when they connect with their communities every day–whether they're the Berlin Philharmonic or the Nashville Symphony. It's not just about playing concerts. For an orchestra to be successful it must have roots.

LV How are your investments in roots paying off?

Giancarlo Guerrero We are just beginning to see the results of our investments in making classical music accessible to the widest possible diversity of young Nashville audiences. We have one new program called Accelerando designed for serious music students from ethnic communities underrepresented in today’s orchestras, who have a high musical aptitude and the motivation to pursue a professional music career on a standard orchestral instrument.

LV What are your next recordings?

Giancarlo Guerrero Next month we will be recording Brad Warnaar’s Horn Concerto and Behzad Ranjbaran’s Flute Concerto; we've already recorded the third work on the CD, Frank Ticheli's Flute Concerto.

LV What are the best places to eat in Nashville after the concerts?

Giancarlo Guerrero Lots of times we just walk a block to hear the best bluegrass in the world at Honky Tonk Central; Like recently, after a concert of Higdon and Alban Berg, the bluegrass was just right.