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Frances White

Princeton, NJ   

Frances White studied composition at the University of Maryland, Brooklyn College, and Princeton University.  A 2004 Guggenheim recipient, she has been given commissions, awards, grants, and fellowships from organizations such as The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Alice M. Ditson Fund, the Mary Flagler Cary Trust, the Aaron Copland Fund, Prix Ars Electronica, the Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges, the International Computer Music Association, Hungarian Radio, ASCAP, the Bang On A Can Festival, the Other Minds Festival, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Dale Warland Singers, the American Music Center, the MacDowell Colony, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.  Recent commissions include one from the Third Practice Festival to write for the acclaimed ensemble eighth blackbird; from the Fromm Foundation; from the MAP Fund;  from The Crossing Choir of Philadelphia, and from the Solaris Vocal Ensemble of Seattle.  She just  completed “Between here and not here”, funded by Commissioning Music USA (formerly Meet the Composer).  

White’s music can be heard on CD on the Wergo, Centaur, Nonsequitur, Harmonia Mundi, and Bridge Records labels.  Two CDs of her chamber works are available:  Centre Bridge (Mode Records), and  In the library of dreams (Pogus Productions).  White’s music was featured as part of the soundtrack of three of Gus Van Sant’s award-winning films:  Elephant, Paranoid Park, and Milk.  

White studies the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and finds that  the traditional music of this instrument informs and influences her work as a composer.  Much of her music is inspired by her love of nature, and her electronic works frequently include natural sound recorded near her home in central New Jersey.  

The root of the wind

For shakuhachi, taiko, and electronic sound. Written for TaikOz with funding from the Guggenheim Foundation. Performed by TaikOz and Hozan Nomura.

For me, the most important thing that taiko and shakuhachi share is a kind of elemental power. While they manifest this power very differently, I believe that it comes from the same source. The title, from a poem by Emily Dickinson, evokes this source.

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Centre Bridge (dark river)

For string quintet and electronic sound. Commissioned by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Performed by Pauline Kim and Airi Yoshioka, violins; David Cerutti, viola; Susannah Chapman, cello, and Paul Hostetter, conductor.

This is second piece that I’ve written about Centre Bridge in Stockton, NJ. In both pieces, I made recordings of the traffic on it, and then used what I heard to shape the pitches and timing of the music. In this work, I particularly wanted to address the transforming power of the bridge.

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From a Fairy Tale

For viol consort and narrator. Text by James Pritchett, read by Valeria Vasilevski.

I have always loved fairy tales, and believe that they reach truths hidden deep inside of us, truths that music also reaches. James Pritchett and I have collaborated on several works that explore story telling and fairy tales. We hope someday to create a piece based on a tale from one of Andrew Lang’s collections:  “The Princess in the Chest”. From a fairy tale is a brief glimpse into the world of this story.

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