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Joan Tower studied at Bennington College and Columbia University, but she credits her years living in Bolivia as a youth for the rhythmic foundation of much of her music. She is currently Professor of Music at Bard College, where she has taught since 1972. She was the founding pianist of the Da Capo Chamber Players, which commissioned many of her most popular works. In 1990 she won the Grawemeyer Award for her orchestral piece Silver Ladders, and in 2008 the Nashville Symphony’s recording of Made in America, Tambor, and the Concerto for Orchestra won Grammys for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance.

“Night Fields, my first string quartet [1994], is dedicated with affection and admiration to the Muir String Quartet,” the composer wrote. “The title came after the work was completed and provides an image or setting for some of the moods of the piece: a cold windy night in a wheat field lit up by a bright full moon where waves of fast-moving colors ripple over the field, occasionally settling on a patch of gold.”