Jefferson, In His Own Words

“Shatin engages complex rhythms and timbre-play to create a fascinating palette of sound for what is essentially an orchestra-narrator duet. Maestro Steven Smith was attuned to this balance, and, just as importantly, to the shape of the music on its own….In the first movement, Political Passion, rhythms crackled like the fire in front of which Jefferson sat to write about his vision of a bill of rights. At one point in the second movement, the woodwinds passed around a pensive melodic line, effectively telling the emotional story behind Jefferson’s constructed argument between Head and Heart, the movement’s title. The third movement Justice Cannot Sleep, contrasted roiling agitation with lyrical bits, while the brass delightfully closed the fourth movement, Freedom of Reason, with a fanfare”.  – Richmond Times Dispatch

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“Shatin’s large-scale, impressionistically colorful orchestration evokes misty Blue Ridge vistas in its quieter and more contemplative moments, but more often enlarges, with some turbulence, on the text’s suggestions of Jefferson’s inner emotional life. The portrait that Shatin paints is far from the usual picture of an enigmatic and cerebral man. This performance by conductor Steven Smith and the Richond Symphony played up the color and drama of Shatin’s score.”  – LETTER V, The Virginia Classical Music Blog

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“Judith Shatin’s Jefferson in His Own Words gives American orchestras a rare opportunity–the chance to represent real-world issues, in a meaningful way, in a symphonic context. Judith Shatin has selected some of the most powerful and poignant texts to come from Jefferson’s pen, arranged them so that a non-musician may serve as narrator, and accompanied them in a way our audiences found spellbinding.”  – Benajmin Rous, Associate Conductor, The Virginia Symphony

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“Judith Shatin has written a dramatic and provocative work; her choice of Jefferson’s letters is diverse and interesting, and her music beautifully illuminates the text to offer a fascinating portrait of the man and his times”  – Kate Tamarkin, Conductor, The Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra