Joan Tower


Joan Tower (b. 1938) is a Grammy-winning contemporary American composer, concert pianist and conductor. Her bold and energetic compositions have been performed in concert halls around the world. After gaining recognition for her first orchestral composition, Sequoia (1981), a tone poem which structurally depicts a giant tree from trunk to needles, she has gone on to compose a variety of instrumental works including Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, which is something of a response to Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, the Island Prelude, two string quartets, and an assortment of other tone poems. Tower was pianist and founding member of the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players, which commissioned and premiered many of her early works, including her widely-performed Petroushskates. Tower became the first woman recipient of the Grawemeyer Award (Music Composition), awarded by the University of Louisville for her composition “Silver Ladders”, in 1990. That same year, Tower’s “Island Rhythms” was recorded by the Louisville Orchestra on First Edition, with conductor Lawrence Leighton Smith.