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Frances White

Princeton, NJ   

Frances White is a composer of instrumental, vocal, and electronic music.  Her music has been called “stunning” (American Record Guide) “moving” (Fanfare), “spectacularly beautiful”,  and “so atmospheric and sensuous it is almost fragrant” (Musicworks).  A 2004 Guggenheim fellow, she has also received awards and grants 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. Notable commissions include one from the Third Practice Festival to write The ocean inside for the acclaimed ensemble eighth blackbird; from the Fromm Foundation to write A flower on the farther side for the viol consort Parthenia; from the MAP Fund to write Tracing for trombonist Monique Buzzarté; from The NY Viola Society, funded by Commissioning Music USA (formerly Meet the Composer) to write Between here and not here for Ensemble Meme; from the Solaris Vocal Ensemble of Seattle to write far, still for chorus, cello and electronic sound; and from The Crossing chamber choir of Philadelphia to write The third night. Most recently, she wrote The book of evening for shakuhachi and string quartet, commissioned by the Momenta Quartet with funding from the Sparkplug Foundation and a New Music USA Project Grant.  Her work A flower on the farther side appeared as part of the installation Traces on the farther side at the 2019 Biennale in Venice.  White studies the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), and finds that its unique spiritual and sonic voice informs and influences her work as a composer. In recent years, she has become increasingly interested in telling stories through music, and has collaborated with writer James Pritchett to create a number of works that involve narration with music

White’s music can be heard on CD on the Wergo, Centaur, Nonsequitur, Harmonia Mundi, Albany, Ravello, Mode, MSR Classics, and Bridge Records labels. 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.  For more information, please visit Frances White’s website: rosewhitemusic.com.

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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