A Visit With Renowned Composer John Harbison

Apr 4, 2014
Originally published on April 4, 2014 6:22 pm

In 2004, Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer John Harbison released “Songs America Loves To Sing – Old and New Music for Winds, Strings and Piano,” a compilation of recognizable choral preludes with a twist putting the spotlight on the true meanings of the work. It includes hymns like “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and classics such as “Anniversary Song” — which we know as “Happy Birthday.”

This weekend the acclaimed composer will join Philadelphia’s Network For New Music for workshops and several concerts, including a performance of songs from “Songs America Loves to Sing.”

Here & Now’s Robin Young sits in on a rehearsal and speaks with musicians from Network For New Music as they try tackling Harbison’s interpretations of American popular songs. She then visits Harbison at his home in Cambridge, Mass., to find out what inspired the variations of the music.


  • John Harbison, Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer and pianist.
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