LJ White, composer

LJ White headshot

LJ White's music serves ideals of direct, focused and socially relevant expression, assimilating an unrestricted array of influences through strange and evocative sonorities and rhythms, concise gestures, and apposite forms.  He has worked with many of the leading performers in contemporary classical music, including Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble SIGNAL, Ensemble Dal Niente, the JACK Quartet, the Spektral Quartet, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Third Angle Ensemble, Third Coast Percussion, Lucy Dhegrae, Volti, and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble, Roomful of Teeth, the Talea Ensemble, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars.  White’s recent projects include collaborations with the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra under Steven Schick, the Breckenridge Music Festival, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Music NOW series, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s “Live at the Pulitzer” series.

White’s string quartet Zin zin zin zin was included on the Spektral Quartet’s album CHAMBERS, released by Parlour Tapes+ in 2013, and has been hailed by the New York Times as “rich in implications," by New Music Box as "a tour-de-force of quartet writing," and by the Washington Post as “a terrific satire on the inflections that give language meaning.”  His work on the evening-length Everything Means Nothing to Me, created in collaboration with composers Christopher Cerrone, Jacob Cooper, Ted Hearne, Robert Honstein, and Scott Wollschleger and based on songs by the singer-songwriter Elliot Smith, will be released by Third Angle Ensemble on a Jackpot Recordings album on September 17, 2020.  White’s 30-minute song cycle for four voices with live electronic processing, The Best Place for This, was commissioned by the Quince Ensemble with support from a Chamber Music America grant in 2016.  White is currently developing and recording a version of the piece for his own voice, combining his countertenor and baritone registers with soprano recordings from before his gender transition, with support from the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission.

White has won the Craig and Janet Swan Prize, the Margaret Blackburn Composition Competition, an Emil and Ruth Beyer Award from the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Dolce Suono Ensemble Young Composer Competition, the North American Saxophone Alliance Composition Competition, and the American Prize.  He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Banff Arts Centre, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and his work has been featured at venues and festivals including the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, CULTIVATE at Copland House, the Ecstatic Music Festival, the Resonant Bodies Festival, REDCAT, the Ear Taxi Festival, Omaha Under the Radar, and the Composers Conference at Wellesley College.  

White currently lives in Chicago. He completed his DMA in composition at Northwestern University in 2017 and taught composition and music theory at Washington University in St. Louis as a full-time lecturer from 2017-2020. Beginning in fall 2021, he will be a Visiting Professor of Music at the New College of Florida.

LJ White's Attractive Forces premiered on March 12, 2021 with the Grossman Ensemble.

Program notes:

Attractive Forces is inspired by motion of submicroscopic particles, as understood through kinetic molecular theory. All matter is made of these particles, which are constantly moving, with varying amounts of kinetic energy depending on the state of matter, density of particles, temperature, pressure created by the size of the space, and any attraction between the particles themselves. This piece is put together in an analogous way. Much of the musical material is quite pointillistic, and it is not organized by traditional rhythmic and metric notation; rather, the players are given segments of time, in seconds, and a certain number of ordered pitches to distribute through each segment, within a loose hierarchy of note values that allows for variation. There are also parts where one player’s notes will trigger another’s, as if there are forces of attraction between the particles depicted by those pitches.

LJ White's "Attractive Forces"