Salzburg Global Seminar Session Participant Profiles
Sat 02 Apr - Wed 06 Apr, 2011

Pierre Jalbert Pierre Jalbert (Faculty)

Country/Region: United States of America

Rice University

Composer, Professor of Composition and Music Theory, Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, Houston

Earning widespread notice for his richly colored and superbly crafted scores, Pierre Jalbert (b. 1967) has developed a musical language that is engaging, expressive, and deeply personal. Among his many honors are the Rome Prize, the BBC Masterprize, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's 2007 Stoeger Award, given biennially "in recognition of significant contributions to the chamber music repertory", and a 2010 award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Jalbert has drawn inspiration from a variety of sources, from plainchant melodies to natural phenomena. His orchestral work big sky was inspired by the vast, open landscapes of the western United States. In Icefield Sonnets for string quartet, Jalbert created transparent, glassy textures in response to poems by Anthony Hawley about life in northern latitudes.

Spiritual concerns are also central to Jalbert's work. Symphonia Sacra (2001), inspired by the splendor of Roman churches and cathedrals, incorporates plainchant melodies. Les espaces infinis, another orchestral score from 2001, is described by the composer as "a quiet meditation on the nature of time and space."

Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA, Jalbert grew up in northern Vermont. He began piano lessons at a young age, immersing himself in the classical repertoire. Growing up, he also heard French and English folk songs and Catholic liturgical music, gaining a deep respect for music that communicates powerfully with an economy of means. Following undergraduate studies in piano and composition at Oberlin Conservatory, Jalbert earned a doctorate in Composition at the University of Pennsylvania under principal teacher George Crumb.

His music has been performed worldwide, with four Carnegie Hall performances of his orchestral music, including the Houston Symphony's Carnegie Hall premiere of his orchestral work, big sky, in 2006. Other major works for orchestra include In Aeternam (2000), performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Symphony (2004), commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Fire and Ice (2007), commissioned for the Oakland East Bay, Marin, and Santa Rosa Symphonies through Meet the Composer Foundation's MAGNUM OPUS Project, and Autumn Rhapsody (2008), commissioned by the Vermont Symphony. He has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (2002-2005), California Symphony (1999-2002), and Music in the Loft in Chicago (2003). Select commissions and performances include those of the Ying, Borromeo, Maia, Enso, Chiara, and Escher String Quartets (the Escher Quartet recently performed his Icefield Sonnets at the Louvre in Paris); violinist Midori; and the symphony orchestras of London, Budapest, Seattle, Houston, Fort Worth, Colorado, and Albany among others.

Jalbert is Professor of Music at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music in Houston, and he serves as one of the artistic directors of Musiqa, a Houston-based contemporary chamber ensemble. Current projects include works for the Emerson String Quartet, Music from Copland House, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Houston Symphony.

Media files from Pierre Jalbert

The Power of the Spirit: Music, Transcendence, and Reconciliation