Pegram’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble has been awarded the Frederick Fennell Prize from the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) and the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA). Initiated in 2002, the ASCAP/CBDNA Frederick Fennell Young Composers Award is a biennial recognition of an outstanding new work for winds by a young American composer. The winning work is selected through a juried competition that attracts submissions from eligible composers from across the United States.
Higher Ground (2018) is a sixty-minute opera in one act with a libretto by North Carolina-based writer Jim Whiteside and music by Jules Pegram, written in partial fulfillment of the dissertation for the Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition degree. Premiere performances were held April 4 & 5, 2018 at McIntosh Theatre in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a cast that included John Daugherty, Antona Yost, Madeline Thibault, Samuel Kidd, and Christopher Wolf, an SATB chorus, and a 13-piece orchestra.
Set in 1913 and situated in a small Missouri town facing a record-setting “flood of the century,” the opera focuses on J.T. Fitzgerald and his decision to fortify the family’s homestead while wife Hattie evacuates north to Chicago with infant Lucy in tow. Prompted by the guilt of losing another daughter to a previous year’s flood, J.T. stays behind against Hattie’s wishes, promising a letter every day to assure her of his and the town’s safety. Through the intimate lens of a family tested by external crisis, the story tackles broader issues of honor and loyalty, of love’s ability to transcend space and time, and of the true meaning of home.